Death threat follows posting of trapped wolf picture

Earth Island Journal "fair use" photo from

Kathleen Stachowski  Other Nations

Imagine a wild animal lured to a baited foothold trap. The trap springs, catching the unsuspecting creature by the paw. Imagine–it isn’t difficult–the fear and pain; the thrashing attempts to free the firmly-clamped foot.

Now imagine people gathering to watch the terrified animal attempting to free himself. Guns–constant companions in this part of the world–are produced and shots are fired. The animal is hit but not down; a circle of pink forms in the snow, the trap’s anchor chain at its center. Pictures are taken; pictures are posted.

When the location is the Northern Rockies and the animal is a wolf, this scenario is not only feasible, it actually happens. This time it was in Idaho.

One dog too many

Anti-trapping sentiment picked up steam in the Missoula, MT area when, in 2007, a beloved border collie-cross died in an illegally-set body-grip beaver trap at a popular Forest Service recreation site. Cupcake, the dog, died in the arms of his frantic, anguished human.

Cupcake’s story was one too many for local activists weary of the way trapping flew under the radar, a mostly-hidden pursuit enabled by trappers at the state management agency, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks. Traps littering public landscapes were not only catching, injuring, and sometimes killing companion animals, they were causing untold suffering and death for wild species–both intended and unintended (“non-target”) victims. Adding insult to injury, trappers pocket cash for the skin and fur of native wildlife dwelling on America’s public lands.

Cupcake’s terrible death drew grassroots activists together and Footloose Montana (Promoting trap-free public lands for people, pets, and wildlife) was born. Footloose came amazingly close–for a first-time attempt–to qualifying a public lands anti-trapping ballot initiative in 2010, falling 1500 statewide signatures short (over 31,000 were gathered). Incidents like the one described above–a stark illustration of the cruelty inherent in trapping–only steel the commitment to try again.

Death Threat

After posting the wolf torture picture–copied from a trapping forum–on their Facebook page, Footloose personnel received this message:

“I would like to donate a gun to your childs (sic) head to make sure you can watch it die slowly so I can have my picture taken with it’s (sic) bleeding dying screaming for mercy body. YOU WILL BE THE TARGET NEXT BITCHES!”

Authorities–including the FBI–have been notified.

I should add that wolf-hater hysteria continues with at least one Republican candidate for Montana governor calling for a wolf trapping season (currently not legal). A population of 650-700 wolves is apparently too many for the fourth largest state–a state whose human population is ranked 44th with a scant one million.

Candidate Rick Hill worries that exceeding a wolf “tipping point” will cause irreparable harm. Says he: “The consequences of this are going to be a really poor hunting season this year…”
To read a full account of the Idaho wolf incident (including trapper comments and photos), visit the Earth Island Journal. To support Footloose Montana in any way you can, visit their website and Facebook page.

5 Responses

  1. What land minds are to war steel-jawed leghold traps, body-crushing Conibear traps, and wire choke snares and other “traps” are to wild life and domestic animals.

    This should be stopped. It never should have been to begin with.

    Hooray for the dedication of Footloose!

  2. On trapping, I don’t have much of an opinion one way or the other. It’s not a subject I know much about, I try to refrain from spouting off about things I’m mostly ignorant of.

    Regarding wolves, they tend to be an extremely polarizing subject in this part of the world. Still, as with any hot-button issue, the most shrill voices (on either side) tend to get the most attention — and press time.

    There are many more of us here than an outsider might be led to think by press reports, who hold more middle-ground views regarding wolves in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho.

  3. This by an ecologist and former Montana hunting guide on the insanity of wolf hunts and anti-wolf hysteria:

    Bravo for hunters who have the guts to speak out against this idiocy.

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  5. The struggle for Animal Liberation is already violent from the animal’s perspective, so why should anyone be surprised that angry rhetoric calling for violence is posted in reaction to sadism such as wolf torture? I would never engage in such rhetoric because it would likely dissuade others from attempting to reconsider the human animal relationship and speciesism, but why should humans who torture animals expect to get a free pass on violence and not expect it to boomerang back to them from dissenters?

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