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Take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” ~ Elie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor

It is time to end trapping. Now. No more turning a blind eye. This is the time of the great awakening. It is the responsibility and privilege of every one of us to create a new and loving world.

The Department of Natural Resources has forfeited the pretense of science or humane stewardship of nature in Wisconsin by encouraging trapping. It has zero fealty to its mission statement: “To protect and enhance our natural resources, our air, land and water; our wildlife, fish and forests and the ecosystems that sustain all life…” The DNR has long been a farce; it is just a maximum wild slaughter facilitator. It must be dismantled and restructured.

“Owner Unaware of DNR Property Lines,” reads the Channel 3000 report on the trapper killing of Carolyn Schueppel’s dog Handsome in the town of Oregon Oct. 16. It goes on to say that the narrow strip of land people walk to reach the nature conservancy where she was headed “is owned by the DNR, which means hunting and trapping is legal.” There should be a significant correction to that statement. The land does not “belong to the DNR” — it belongs to the citizens of this state — all the citizens.

Eight thousand of Wisconsin’s 5.69 million residents trap, only because the DNR promotes this obscenity. Some 99.99 percent of us do not trap. So why are all of us and our pets put at risk and a million wildlife tortured and killed to facilitate the cruelty of 0.001 percent of the population? It is time to reform this corrupt agency.

We are truly the 99.99 percent, yet we are designated to walk narrow paths on our own public lands and guard ourselves and our dogs from hidden killing devices, with traps set any- and everywhere. The DNR and Legislature are assuring that our wildlife will be murdered out of the landscape. Bait in winter, while wildlife are starving, and unlimited trapping with no bag limits will attract the vulnerable and kill out our land. Wander off trail on your own land at your own risk.

This is a wake-up call for action. Now we are all put in danger by the DNR.

If Carolyn Schueppel had stepped into that trap herself, she could have bled to death. No one was around. She was not strong enough to open the trap to release her dog. With traps anchored into frozen ground, no child would be able to pull a trap free.

Bear hounders are compensated from the endangered species fund if their dogs are killed. Trapper fees should compensate Schueppel the usual $2,000-$10,000 for her dog’s murder.

A proposed bill, AB 311, has been co-sponsored by 33 representatives to promote trapping on 100 percent of our public lands. The bill requires the DNR to cut license fees for first-time state resident hunters and trappers to $4.25 (from as much as $24). Mentors would be eligible for a $20 license discount if they are named on a new hunter’s application. Nonresident hunters and trappers applying for a license for the first time would get 50 percent reduction.

The bill is a discount wholesale death sale on our wildlife to draft new hunters and trappers into even more killing to keep the DNR power base set against the general citizenry. This bill is a cheap slaughter-power fundraiser for special interests who fear losing their exclusive control. Trappers are salivating over their newfound power.

It requires school boards to offer online hunter, bow-hunter and trapper education for credit. It requires the DNR to establish a 15-member hunter and trapper recruitment and retention council. Composed of bear hunters, deer hunters and the usual death brokers, it will find more ways to up the demise of wild native nature to bolster hunter control of her destruction.

Laws are difficult to undo. The trappers know it.

Most significantly, this bill totally prohibits acquiring land through our publicly funded Warren Knowles-Gaylord Nelson Stewardship program unless hunting, fishing and trapping are promoted on all of it. To protect any of us or an endangered species on any land purchase would require a unanimous vote of the Natural Resources Board. Three new Gov. Scott Walker-appointed board members — a dairy farmer, a real estate executive and a business owner — are added to the four hunting/trapping facilitators already on board. What are the chances of a unanimous vote to protect land, air, plants, or any species? Zero.

“I wouldn’t think that a trapper would set a trap that you could get hurt in. Nobody would think that,” said Schueppel. A trap crushed her dog slowly one day after trapping season opened. Some 461,000 target animals were reported killed in traps in Wisconsin last winter, with another million-plus nontarget “trash” wildlife or pets killed. Trapping seasons are open now through the end of February. (

My archives hold the 1975 congressional testimony of Harry Lillie, a veterinarian: “I stress again that all these creatures left alone and leaving nature alone will regulate themselves.”

Lillie describes just one trapline as “one corner of a tremendous continent from the Atlantic to the Pacific that throbbed with long drawn-out agonies night and day for months.” He found a coyote and “what had been a beautiful happy creature who with his friends had sung us to sleep in the cabin, was now an emaciated twisted body. He had dragged the trap with its heavy anchor pole until the chain had snarled on a fallen tree. His smashed leg and paw was stripped to the splintered bone in the trap jaws. One single chewed sinew alone had held him from getting away on three legs. He had no strength left to chew the sinew.”

He described a rare great grey owl in a squirrel trap, “battering his wings until the trap and chain dragged him down … how many dawns had he seen from that trap before hunger and exhaustion ended it? I found him wings still stretched across the snow, his eyes wide open but frozen white.”

Of the many agonies described was a young beaver not drowned, but dead of exposure, shock and fatigue through a bitter night. “The bank, snow, willow feed sticks and ice were churned to porridge. The others of his family in their house must have heard it all and gone through almost as much misery. ... Searches ended so often with a whole paw in the jaws.” Part of the story of one trapline. Unlimited traps visited whenever and monitored by no oversight.




Bobcat in steel jaw trap

Multiply that agony by millions just here in Wisconsin. Deriving pleasure from another’s misery is some form of insanity.

Lillie concludes his testimony with, “What had our planet and its fine forms of life done that man should have been inflicted on it? What harm do they ever do to us that we do this to them?”

Thirty-six years have passed since that testimony.

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The DNR counts on your apathy. Trapping ends only when you care enough to end it.



Nov. 13: Assembly Bill 311 to expand trapping: Carolyn Schueppel speaks out about the murder of her dog in a conibear trap



Sign a petition to stop the slaughter of black bears in Wisconsin:



Patricia Randolph of Portage is a longtime activist for wildlife.

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