Thursday, March 29, 2012

Photos of “tortured” wolf draw death threat against Missoula anti-trapping group

467501_322236927831405_148235025231597_837264_533513780_o A Missoula-based anti-trapping organization said it received a threatening email this month after the group posted graphic photos on the Internet of a live Idaho wolf caught in a foot-hold trap.

Anja Heister, executive director of Footloose Montana, on March 22 posted a series of photos gleaned from an online trapping forum called on her personal and Footloose Montana Facebook sites.

Heister said she opened Footloose Montana’s email inbox on Monday and found what she believed to be a death threat directed at family members of the organization:

“I would like to donate (sic) 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!” the message read.

Heister said the email was in response to the group posting photos of a northern Idaho trapper’s March 18 wolf kill, which was detailed on the online trapping forum. Pinching

The photos show trapper Josh Bransford, a fire management officer for the Nez Perce National Forest, kneeling and smiling for the camera as a wolf he caught in a foot-hold trap stands behind him in a ring of blood-soaked snow. Another photo shows a close-up of the wolf’s paw caught in the trap. A third photo shows the trapper posing with his catch.

Heister said Footloose Montana, which is actively campaigning to ban trapping in Montana, has received plenty of hostile emails and phone calls since 2007 but never anything that rose to this level.

"It has a cumulative effect on your psyche," Heister said. "I’m not easily scared, but when I read this I got really concerned."

Heister said she reported the threatening email to local and federal law enforcement officials. Missoula Police Sgt. Travis Welch confirmed the department received the report of the malicious email and that it was assigned to an investigator, but he declined to comment further.

In an online blog on Earth Island Journal’s website, writer James William Gibson recounted what Bransford — who goes by the handle "Pinching" — wrote about the photos. Bransford’s post has since been removed.

“I got a call on Sunday morning from a FS (Forest Service) cop that I know. You got one up here,” the post said, and then continued, “there was a crowd forming. Several guys had stopped and taken a shot at him already,” the post read, according to Gibson.

According to Bransford the wolf was a 100-pound male with "no rub spots" making an "good wall hanger.”

Bransford did not return calls or emails seeking comment Thursday.

As of late Thursday the photos posted on Footloose Montana’s Facebook page had received nearly 900 comments. Online commenters on both the Earth Island Journal and the Footloose Montana Facebook page expressed outrage over the photos. Many viewers were angry Bransford posed for a portrait with the wounded wolf before killing it.

Dave Linkhart, spokesman for the National Trappers Association, said there’s nothing wrong with a trapper posing with his catch before killing the animal.

"You pose with a successful catch just like you do with a successful hunt," Linkhart said. "People make the problem of attributing human feelings and emotions to these animals."

Linkhart claimed trapped animals don’t suffer, so taking the time to shoot a photograph does not cross ethical boundaries.

458357_322237394498025_148235025231597_837267_1594147433_o "If you look at the trap — across the pad of the foot like that — if you were to release the animal it would walk away like nothing happened," Linkhart said.

Marc Bekoff is a former professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder and fellow of the Animal Behavior Society who has studied the social behavior of wolves and coyotes, among other animals.

"That wolf was suffering immeasurably. Not only physically by having his foot locked in a trap, but also being shot at," said Bekoff, the author of several books on animal psychology and emotion. "This was not hunting. This was having an animal having its foot smashed in trap and then shooting at it with bullets. This wolf was tortured."

Linkhart said if the wolf was shot at, that isn’t the trapper’s fault.

"Somebody else came up there and shot that animal first. That is illegal. What the trapper has done here is not," Linkhart said. "The problem was not the trap. It was the illegal activity of the hunters who shot at that wolf."

Lowdown EXTRA: This is video “Pinching” posted to showing a bobcat stepping into a foot-hold trap:


GoldenShoresGal said...

Trappers can try to defend Mr. Bransford's actions, but there are some other fairly ugly pictures, including that night video of "Pinching" Bradford trapping a bobcat, that are going viral and have drawn the attention of PETA. I do not support most of PETA's activities, but they are an effective organization that gets a lot of MSM attention. I wouldn't sic PETA on my worst enemy and if I were Mr. Bradford, I'd be very concerned about some of the photos of his kills he's put online, including the one of an elk in which he possess with his wife and his two toddlers. When does this turn into "Daddy kills animals, so I'll kill this little kitten." I believe Mr. Bradford is a man of extremely poor judgement and lacks the ability to understand that much of the Western world does not share his "enthusiasm" for what appears to be thrill killing. Feeding a family via hunting is one thing; killing animals for the heck of it is quite another matter.

john w said...

I wonder if i would be arrested if I disclosed in print, what I would like to do to to that "smiling" coward.....That "punk" should be trapped in place of the wolf or any other "tortured" victim of these immoral contraptions. A truly sick bas@#rd !

Anonymous said...

This is just messed up. It's bad enough that he's proud of his 'skills' if you wanna call them that. But video taping and taking pictures of the animals when they are hurt is wrong.. That poor wolf DID feel pain. Every animal including us is going to feel pain if their foor is caught in a metal trap. It is NOT 'pinching'..thats just the nice word for trap. Some forest ranger this guy turned out to be.

Anonymous said...

I really have to wonder which is the more evolved species in this photo.

EthicalOne said...

Trappers torture animals on their trap lines.
I document trappers forums and they torture animals on their lines.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how the stupid guy would feel if HIS foot were trapped in the trap, and people where filming him and his pain, and it is truly wrong that he is PROUD of his so called abilities. I think the man has something wrong with his mind. If I had to create a list of mean names for the guy, the list would go on for ever. Also, him smiling and posing with the poor dead wolf makes me sick not just to the stomach, but to my whole body, maybe even farther. Killing animals for food or some other life and death purposes is all right, but killing them for the heck of it is just plain unhuman, and he calls himself a forest ranger.

cowboyup1876 said...

That's not good operating procedure on a trapline. Standard procedure is to put the animal down immediately upon finding it in the trap, which needs to be checked once a day and if possible twice. Messing around before euthanizing the animal is not the way I trap, or the people I trap with.

Anonymous said...

Aww. Poor wolf. It was a beautiful black one too. :(

Anonymous said...

Someone wondered in one comment which of the species in the photos is the more evolved one. To me the answer is obvious: it's the wolf. No normal person will torture a living being like that. It's apalling that this man (to use a polite term, though I'd say he doesn't deserve it) has not been punished.

Only an idiot would say this wold didn't suffer. How about putting your own arm in such a trap aneeing how it feels?

This wolf was a really beautiful one. It's sad he (I refuse to say 'it') ended up as a trophy to this *******. To me wolves are endlessly fascinating and worth infinitely more than the likes of that guy.

Tumbledown said...

Sick. He should have put it out of it's pain. Dogs do feel pain...wolves do feel pain. Let them be...they are part of our natural ecosystem...

Anonymous said...

this is so sad!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! kill just to kill makes no sense.i do not believe in traps. where do the wolfs go to be safe? why cant they be left alone?

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