Snares and strychnine are cruel ways to kill wildlife, and Dr. Gilbert Proulx wants the collective body of researcher available to change their use in Canada.
Dr. Proulx’s recent book, Intolerable Cruelty: The truth behind killing neck snares and strychnine, combines much of the existing research on killing snares and the poison strychnine with his own, as well as anecdotes and arguments meant to dispel myths.
“This book is not against trapping, hunting or industry,” Dr. Proulx wrote in his preface. “This book is a plea for help to eliminate improper and unethical methods used by trappers, some wildlife managers, and farmers. It is an appeal to our politicians to raise their standards and support ethical and professional wildlife conservation programs.”
An anecdote early in the book expresses the cruelty of snares: trail cameras hidden on an active trapline, which had snares set to the standard outlined by the industry, revealed that a coyote caught struggled for 23 hours before succumbing, and a wolf who spent nearly four hours in a snare. Notably, in the case of the coyote, Dr. Proulx wrote, “at the time of death, the position of the animal suggested a quick and humane kill. However, the neck snare did not quickly render the coyote irreversibly unconscious. It was not a humane kill, based on existing humane criteria.”
Bookended by solid, peer-reviewed research, it is difficult to dispute the devastation in stories shared by Dr. Proulx, such as the experience of retired predator control specialist Dwight Rodtka. Dr. Proulx wrote: “In the winter and summer 2011, Dwight Rodtka … found 8-15 wolf snares set around a draw bait near Rocky Mountain House. The trapper captured 2 white-tailed deer, 1 cougar, 1 black bear, 1 grizzly bear (a threatened species in Alberta) and 2 wolves.”
And though Dr. Proulx is not opposed to trapping of wildlife, he is clearly fed up with the status quo on snares: “Trappers who continue to use killing neck snares in spite of our knowledge of their intolerable cruelty should stop pretend that, more than anyone, they want to harvest furbearers in a humane and ethical way … A wildlife biologist who remains passive towards the use of killing neck snares is a disgrace to the profession … Politicians who refuse to recognize the cruelty of killing necks nares should be voted out.”
The book also challenges the use of strychnine, citing numerous studies of the devastation to individuals and entire ecosystems.
“Strychnine is a non-0selective poison to kill carnivores,” Dr. Proulx wrote. “Any vertebrate feeding on strychnine-laced baits and any predator or scavenger feeding on strychnine-poisoned animals will die.”
Further, “the use of strychnine for euthanasia is considered unacceptable under any circumstances by most government agencies and veterinary organizations,” Dr. Proulx wrote.
Intolerable Cruelty is a book published out of necessity, and at The Fur-Bearers we believe Dr. Proulx’s work will help make change for animals across Canada. It does contain graphic images and descriptions, and may not be appropriate for all ages or individuals. However, it is a powerful tool for advocates and decision makers.
Take action on snares in Canada: www.TheFurBearers.com/Snares
Take action on the use of strychnine in Canada: https://petitions.ourcommons.ca/en/Petition/Details?Petition=e-2060
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