March 17th may be the day we celebrate St. Patrick driving all the snakes out of Ireland, but March 15th is apparently the day to broadcast the folk who kill beavers. This morning’s beavers headlines read like a Where’s Waldo of trapping beavers. Apparently extermination is an equal opportunity employer. In more ways than one.
Don’t believe me? Let’s start with Mr. Les Wedge in Syracuse New York, who boasts he has been killing animals for 57 years. His glossy cover story comes with video, and and he sagely notes;
“I do it for the enjoyment. It’s another excuse to be outdoors and observe nature,” Wedge said. “Secondly, it’s a kind of game with the animal. You have to be right on a particular spot to trap so that they don’t miss it.”
Now there’s a man who knows how to have fun. His nature-lovin’ “hunger games’ must be a hoot at parties.
Or let’s talk about Mr. Philip Engle, who very generously comes down from the frozen climes of Montana in the winter just to trap beaver in Mississippi. Sometimes there are so many beaver that need killing he bring his friends.
Every day the three were in Monroe County, they probably set 40 to 50 beaver traps each day and collect most the following day. It’s a grueling routine that starts at 7 a.m. and typically ends at 7 p.m. with the rest of the night skinning the day’s catch.
“Some nights, we may stay up until midnight skinning. We don’t waste a thing with the beavers. We may get a buck for this and a buck for that so we really get $3 per beaver. The landowners are happy to have them off their land and we’re happy just having fun trapping,” Engle said.
3 dollars a beaver. And you get to have fun trapping. The thoughtful part of me would like to know just how much you are costing the state with all the fish and duck population you are destroying, and exactly how many dollars Monroe County received in federal FEMA funds for drought compensation. But surely that’s water under the bridge. Or a drop in the bucket. Or some other water-based metaphor that basically means you people are so deeply committed to stupid that its almost a religion.
You think you’ve seen it all. That you have read the most remarkably short-sighted and inhumane article possible and that nothing will have the power to shock you any more. And then you see this:
Leslie doesn’t fit the stereotype for a fur trapper. She wears insulated camouflage waders and she has all the appropriate tools and methods. She knows the state regulations. But she also looks like she just stepped out of a beauty salon.”I don’t have to change who I am to trap animals,” Leslie said. “This is just who I am.”
In fact, instead of fitting the mold of a trapper, trapping fits the mold of Leslie’s family.
I won’t mention that she brings along her 11 year old son. Or that the reporter is compelled to mention that her personality is as ‘sparkly’ as her sunglasses. I will just say that they really, really hate beavers in Missippi, and leave you with this.
“We absolutely have to set and check our traps every day before sundown, so this just fits our needs perfectly and it gives us something to do outside,” Leslie said. She added that the outdoor activity meets additional needs for her son. “This also helps me to teach him about the balance of nature,” Leslie said.
Let’s review what we’ve learned, shall we?
- Some people need an excuse to go outside.
- Men and women can be equally ignorant and heartless. (But men may have a head start.)
- Mississippi really, really resents the animal that tries to give them fresh water.
- When people refer to the balance of nature they visualize a pyramid, with man at the top.
- Reporters across the country admire, idolize, and regularly fantasize about trappers.
- Trapping connects people to nature in much the same way that serial killing connects you to humanity.