Letter: Gov. Cox, do the right thing and settle the lawsuit that calls for repeal of barbaric wildlife trapping law

A foothold trap intended for bobcats is set by a trapper on Feb. 20, 2019, on the outskirts of Tierra Amarilla, N.M. (AP Photo/Morgan Lee)

It is very unfortunate that two nonprofit conservation organizations have to sue the state of Utah to force them to repeal a cruel and barbaric wildlife trapping law allowing the use of steel jawed traps. The 2023 Utah Legislature passed HB469 very late in the session after Sen. Scott Sandal amended the act at the last moment to include the use of steel jawed traps and wire snares targeting mountain lions and allowing such trapping to occur 365 days per year.

An animal caught in a steel jawed trap or wire snare will die a very slow and painful death — an inhumane death brought on by starvation or infection. Science tells us that adult predators teach their offspring the traditional methods of predation, but without a parent the young predator is forced to survive by any means.

The final, last-minute version of HB469 did not go through any public review process nor did it allow for input from the State’s wildlife management professionals in the state DWR agency.

This horrendous provision is contrary to the state’s wildlife management practices and contrary to what science tells us about best management practices. Only one other state in the U.S. allows the use of steel jawed traps and nearly all countries have banned this horrific practice.

So why would Utah allow this barbaric means of predator control, especially since the experts in DWR say the mountain lion population is not increasing, with an estimated annual hunting mortality of about 33%, and the estimated predation of livestock at approximately 1% which is a rather low level of predation. Also, livestock owners can be compensated for livestock lost to mountain lions or other predators through a state funded program.

The state could agree to settle the lawsuit brought about by the state’s adoption of HB469, and the governor could show the rest of the country that Utah is not the place where barbaric and inhumane wildlife treatment will be allowed. Governor, please practice the “Utah Way” which you say is a kinder and better way to deal with issues facing the state.

Bob Nicholson, St. George

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