http://www.nevadaap peal.com/ article/20070319 /NEWS/103190076
Appeal Staff Writer,
kwoodmansee@ nevadaappeal. com
March 19, 2007
A group of about 20 people protesting leghold traps - most of them middle-school students - stood outside the Legislature Building on South Carson Street Sunday.
Waving signs that said, "Stop Wildlife Trapping," "What is Your Skin Worth," "Animals Shouldn't be Rugs," and "You Moved into Their Home," the group hollered happily each time a driver honked in support.
The protest was begun by 13-year-old Sarah Shadden, a student at Carson Middle School, after she saw a photo of a bobcat caught in a leghold trap.
"The photo really upset me so I decided to take action," she said.
Sarah, who said she doesn't wear fur or leather and rarely eats meat, called on people to join her protest in a letter to the editor published in the Appeal on Friday.
Hali Winston, of Carson City, didn't want to protest, but she did come down to congratulate Sarah for her activism.
"We should all get off our butts," Winston said. "When I saw the photo, I made a call to see how this could happen, but I didn't do anything."
The protest lasted from 11 am. to 4 p.m., with the kids bringing a picnic lunch. They had to move the demonstration from the grounds of the Legislature Building to the sidewalk because they didn't have a permit.
Legislative Police Officer Frank Bachman suggested the students contact the committee on Natural Resources to give them pointers on how best to hold a demonstration.
The dozen or so students were joined by a few parents, a teacher and several Reno activists.
"People's consciousness of animals is changing," said Trish Swain, a member of trailsafe.org, that wants trappers to keep their traps off of land used by people.
"People have a much different awareness of what is humane. More are saying, 'What is the animal feeling?'"
Though her group has not decided whether to push for a total ban on trapping or just force trappers to move their traps farther into the wild areas, Cassie Holmes, 14, of Carson City, knew what she cared about.
"I think it's wrong because, like, how can anyone do that to an animal just to wear its fur?" Cassie said. "They can leave it there for, like, 96 hours and it could starve to death or die of thirst.
That's so cruel, it's like someone killing you for your skin."
Robert Dodds, 13, of Carson City, said the issue was different from whether nor not to eat meat.
"Life is not about fur," he said. "We can live without fur."
Jim Curran, an officer with the National Trappers Association, said legal trapping is important not only for commercial reasons, but to control the wildlife population, which kills domestic animals.
"The harvest (of fur-bearing mammals) is part of wildlife management," he said. "It keeps populations under control, keeps disease down and keeps predation on domestic livestock and pets down.
There are as many domestic animals killed by coyotes and bobcats as there are coyotes and bobcats killed by trappers."
He also said that urban sprawl adds to conflicts between wild animals and people, which leads to an increased call for trapping predators and animals such as raccoons or skunks.
"There are more and more people living where the wild animals live, and trapping and hunting are two ways to keep populations in check and under management," he said.
"No one likes to see a cow be butchered or a deer be shot or a bobcat harvested. But whether it's a bobcat or a coyote or a cow or a chicken, it's part of life."
He said that despite several thousand trappers working in the state, there have been few conflicts.
Sarah, however said she plans to continue her efforts by lobbying legislators to pass legislation that would ban trapping.
"I want them to pass a bill and that's why I came out here today," she said.
� Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at kwoodmansee@ nevadaappeal. com or 882-2111 ext. 351.