From ANIMAL PEOPLE, June 2012:
Sierra Club national board takes stand against body-grip trapping
SAN FRANCISCO–The Sierra Club national board of directors on May 19, 2012 adopted a new “Policy on Trapping of Wildlife” which may be the 110-year-old organization’s strongest statement yet against any form of hunting.
States the policy, “Use of body-gripping devices–including leghold traps, snares, and Conibear traps–are indiscriminate to age, sex and species and typically result in injury, pain, suffering, and/or death of target and
non-target animals. The Sierra Club considers body-gripping, restraining and killing traps and snares to be ecologically indiscriminate and unnecessarily inhumane and therefore opposes their use. The Sierra Club promotes and supports humane, practical and effective methods of mitigating human-wildlife conflicts and actively discourages the use of inhumane and indiscriminate methods. The Sierra Club recognizes the rights of indigenous peoples under federal laws and treaties granting rights of self-determination and rights to pursue subsistence taking of wildlife.”
The policy statement stipulates that the phrase “body-gripping device includes, but is not limited to, any snare (neck, body, or leg), kill-type trap (such as the Conibear), leghold trap (including steel-jaw, padded, offset), and any other device designed to grip a body or body part. This definition includes any device that may result in injury or death because of the mechanism of entrapment. Live cage and box traps, and common rat and mousetraps shall not
be considered body-gripping devices.”
Said Project Coyote founder Camilla Fox, “I served on the task force of experts appointed by the Sierra Club board to help develop this policy, as did Project Coyote advisory board member Paul Paquet. For 18 months we worked on
this–and our hard work paid off. Hundreds of thousands of coyotes, wolves, foxes and other wild animals are trapped in cruel and indiscriminate leghold traps and snares each year.”
Glue traps are not covered by the new Sierra Club policy, Fox told ANIMAL PEOPLE, because it applies only to trapping methods used against “free-ranging wildlife,” not to “pest control devices” used indoors.
Fox credited Pulitzer Prize-winning Sacramento Bee reporter Tom Knudsen with helping to raise Sierra Club board awareness of leghold trapping with a multi-part exposé of USDA Wildlife Serv-ices, published in the week preceding the board vote. “Because of this exposé,” Fox said, “members of Congress including Representatives John Campbell of California and Peter DeFazio of Oregon are calling for a federal investigation into the machinations of this federal agency that kills more than five million animals each year, of whom about 85,000 are coyotes.”
The new Sierra Club policy is consistent with the views of Sierra Club founder John Muir, who detested trapping, and called sport hunting “the murder business,” but swallowed his opinions in 1892 to court the political support
of avid hunter Theodore Roosevelt. As U.S. president 1901-1908, Roosevelt rewarded Muir by designating 150 National Forests, five National Parks, and 18 National Monuments, together protecting 230 million acres of wildlife habitat.
The Sierra Club grew into the largest nonprofit organization in the animals-and-habitat sector that still has a member-elected board.
With 1.3 million members and a staff of 530, the Sierra Club in recent years has had an annual operating budget of $80 to $85 million. The Sierra Club adopted the new trapping policy about six months after former board chair Carl Pope on November 11, 2011 retired to a role as senior strategic advisor. A Sierra Club employee for nearly 40 years, Pope as executive director from 1992 to 2010 courted alliances with hunters and trappers. Pope was succeeded as
executive director in January 2010 by Michael Brune, who had headed the Rainforest Action Network since 2003.
The May 2012 Sierra Club national board meeting elected Allison Chin of Virginia to head the board. Formerly Sierra Club treasurer, Chin earlier was board president, 2008-2010. The Sierra Club relected board vice president David Scott of Ohio, and secretary Lane Boldman of Kentucky. Treasurer Donna Buell of Iowa and fifth officer Jessica Helm of New York complete the new Sierra Club executive committee.
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