Trapping Reform in Wyoming

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Poetry is vital and invincible.  Poetry has a power to inspire change like no other art form, and the power and impact of poetry is on the rise.  Your interpretation is yours alone and it can change the way we think or feel about something.  It can help in times of challenge and it can bolster in periods of unease.  The words below were shared with WU and our advocates by a friend that we respect and trust—if they speak to you like they did to us, we hope you’ll take a moment to share them with your own communities of allies and advocates.

…I have no sympathy for the delusions, denial, the apathy, and self-avoidance that one must embrace in order to defend their identity, their existence, as a Trapper.


To be trapped in a mind
that views the trapping of animals
as a point of pride—
as a way of life to be revered,
romanticized, and protected…

I wanted my next line to read:
Is a reality I cannot imagine.
But I can imagine it.
I’ve been there—but I got myself out,
I got myself free from my own binds.

My voice is one of empathy
devoid of sympathy.

I have no sympathy for the delusions,
denial, the apathy, and self-avoidance
that one must embrace
in order to defend their
identity, their existence,
as a Trapper.

There is nothing romantic,
nor mystic, about the blind delusion
of the Rugged Individualist, nor
the fiction of the Mountain Man—
fictions as easily accessed
as they are debunked.

The Mountain Man was never
one with Nature.
He was an exploitative exporter—
dependent on the City’s steel,
and the Chemist’s powder—
controlled by Big Business oceans away.
He was a man who toiled to diminish
Nature so he could privately profit from
its spoils in Foreign Markets.

Mother Nature has made no grievous error.
She does not need
sprung steel to balance Her order.

But those truths don’t paint
the Trapper’s portrait in the way
they wish to see themselves.

Of course I know how scared
the Trapper must be to face the fallacies
they’ve embraced—
the fallacies that have been passed down
through their generations.

It is a fearful thing, indeed,
to expose the Self to its own wrongdoings—
to the shortcomings
of the Ancestors that it was
taught to Worship.
It is a fearful thing, indeed,
to submit one’s identity to
the uncertainty of Change.

But it is better to face
one’s fears now—while there still
exists the luxury of Choice.
For if we wait until the Wilds
and its inhabitants have been diminished,
as has been done in other Lands,
there the Trapper will sit,
with their pile of rusted jaws, still Trapped
inside their minds—
and our Natural World will sit
alongside them, dormant and deadened,
as they search desperately
for some new Thing to blame
for their own miseries and folly.

Perhaps if the Trapper were to borrow
some virtue from the Lion—
maybe if they held the same
reverence for our waters as the Beaver,
the same devotion to family
as the Wolf—
perhaps if they borrowed some
awareness from the Marten,
and some wisdom from the Coyote—
perhaps then the Trapper might
find the strength—
the motivation and accountability
they so desperately need—
to free themselves from their Traps.

– Douglas Balmain

Yellowstone Wolf
Courtesy of @nickgarbutt


  • Maggie Larsen

    Have you read the Bible? I have, from cover to cover. God put these animals on this earth, not for us to revere or see as virtuous creatures. God put these animals on this earth for food and to use for our own needs.
    Your entitled to your opinion, that’s your choice-because God also gave us that too. But your way of thinking is just that…………your opinion. Doesn’t make it right or wrong.
    My only concern is that good, honest men that make their living being full time trappers may lose their way of life because of your ‘opinion’. That’s what it really not fair.
    God bless you, and all those trappers out there.

    • Annamarie Jones

      Oh my gosh, what hogwash. As it says in Proverbs a kind person is concerned for the welfare of animals, but even the kindnesses of the wicked are cruel & since kindness is the #1 priority with God & let a person prove their words by their kind deeds.

  • Harold Johnson

    More Nonsense. First of all, trappers should not be trapping where dogs abound. Secondly, dogs should not be running loose all over the country in the first place. I support trapping as it aids in livestock rearing and produces income for many people. Regardless of what you think, holding a coyote in a trap for a day is in no way inhumane. The damage coyotes and wolves do to livestock and other wildlife is appalling. I don’t like pictures of horses torn up by wolves or calves dragged out of their mothers by coyotes. To say that trapping is inhumane just means you are against hunting and fishing also. Good luck with that. We will fight you to the end on all issues.

    • Annamarie Jones

      I was raised on a cattle ranch. My Dad so enjoyed the wildlife. He neither hunted, trapped or fished & I never heard him complain about the coyote or mountain lions. God did not put animals on this earth for you to brutalized.

  • Nelson

    I’m going to pray the writer opens his mind to find that Trappers are the real conversationist and they love and care about the animals in ways and at depths he may never be able to comprehend.

    • Emily

      Violence and control do not equal love and care. Trappers, if they are real conservationists, have flagrantly failed to protect the species they exploit.



  • Annemarie Gallagher

    Disgusting cruelty barbaric to these animals

  • Bill Applegate

    The cruelest thing to do to wildlife is fail to manage it.

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