Just when I think I’m burnt out and ready to hang up my hat with this whole outreach-thing, some local activist posts something incredibly foolish on the internet; and I suddenly get my mojo back. There seems to be a desire for attention from these folks, so who am I to deny them? Ask and you shall receive, because the “boogie monster of facts” is back, baby - to layeth the smacketh down!
For decades, the New Hampshire Trapper’s Association has generously donated a brand new fur coat each year to the winner of the Miss NH Scholarship Program. While still popular in colder climates like Russia and Canada, the Miss New Hampshire program is one of few pageants in America to still hold true to the state’s rural roots with the acceptance of a natural fur garment (the Pennsylvania Trappers Association has a similar program).
Its a pretty good relationship; the Miss NH contestant gets her own hefty warm coat, and the trappers get an opportunity to show off what honest, local support and sustainable use of a natural resource looks like. Each winner gets their own coat, to keep (forever) - an item that ranges in price up to $7,000.00 according to the NHTA website. For anyone who also wears cow-hide belts or tootles around with heated leather seats in their cars, it would seem like a perfectly normal thing to wear during New England’s frigid winters; not to mention a decent gesture.
While this makes the NH pageant unique, it also makes the program an easy target for people who just aren’t content with “agreeing to disagree”.
For the past few years a very small yet vocal minority has rallied a bit of turbulence with the Miss NH program over this gesture. The program has been protested by the “PETA crowd” off and on over the years, although the last three have seen a spike with the onset of social media - allowing keyboard protesters to fire off seething hatred in real time (and worldwide). When harassment of the Miss NH Program’s social media pages weren’t getting enough attention, local activists took to calling the Miss NH contestants “unintelligent”, “disgusting” and “uneducated” for choosing to accept the coat. When that still didn’t garner the attention they hoped for, they slammed Miss NH’s social media page again this year, and doubled down with a world-wide online internet petition demanding the program sever ties with the NHTA. Hey - freedom of speech right? (Or, something like that.)
Funny thing - nobody seems to raise a stink when these animals are bloated and rotting on the side of the Route 93 by-pass, unused and forgotten on the pavement. Nor do I hear too much on “protests” when stressed-out homeowners take “euthanasia” into their own hands over a nuisance critter living under the back deck. Make a functional coat out of those hides and suddenly you’ve got (some people’s) misplaced ire.
So Much Confusion
To add insult to the perceived “injury” - NHTA members were criticized a year ago by the same protesters when they attended a local conservation event without wearing fur - *gasp! (Worthy to note - it was a warm April day, when fur isn’t really functional). Heck, I was even slammed by the same individuals for being a licensed trapper and not wearing fur when I accepted an award from the NH Fish & Game Department (again, it was a warm spring day and the meeting was expected to last hours indoors - cut me some slack!) Now these same people are stomping on the idea of wearing fur. Gah, we can’t keep up!
First they criticized NH citizens for not wearing fur, now we’re getting flack for supporting the wearing of fur. What gives?
Wait, it gets better…
The same individual responsible for drafting today’s Miss NH fur coat online petition was quoted in December of 2018 in a newspaper editorial stating “A lot of this fur is shipped overseas. Now how patriotic is that to kill our precious wildlife to send the fur to Russia or China?”
So, a few months ago it was “unacceptable” to send our local furs overseas; and now its “unacceptable” to keep that fur here to be used locally in a sustainable manner?
Say… I’m beginning to think these activist folks don’t want humans utilizing animal hides at all! (Note I’m oozing with sarcasm!)
The same individuals continue by stating in recent editorials that “there are fewer than 500 trappers in N.H.” and that the Miss NH Program needs “to stop catering to less than 500 mostly male trappers” A comment that I translate to: “we are more important than the public who hunts and traps. Do as we say or face scathing harassment on the internet.”
Also noteworthy, a similar quote about trappers as a “minority” is posted on the online petition that currently has only 335 listed New Hampshire supporters at the time of this op/ed being written - and even that can’t be vetted because the online petition (with signatures from all over the planet) displays many signers as “name not displayed”. That’s right, an online petition with names from all over the world, supposedly all very passionate about stopping fur usage, yet many chose not to even give their name.
But hey, trust them - the names are legit. By the way, I own a bridge in Brooklyn I wanna sell to you at a one-time ultra low rate!
And what’s this talk about “mostly male trappers”? There’s plenty of women who take part in seasonal trapping. There’s plenty of wives, mothers, and daughters of those trappers, not to mention our female professionals in the biology field who also support the regulated activity. Me thinks this talk of “mostly male” is just a tad bit of a sexist statement! Its the 21st Century - women are just as capable of being honed in self-reliant outdoor skills as men. Furthermore, we’re being lectured on gender comparisons from the same crowd who refers to young women as “unintelligent”, “brainless” and “vain”.
Plastics Make It Possible!
And then there’s the most ironic kicker of the entire debate - the usage of natural fur fibers versus synthetic plastic ones. One of the repeated statements surrounding the Miss NH fur coat debacle cries “there is no need to wear fur, there are good synthetic alternatives .”
Beautiful - let’s talk about those “synthetic alternatives.”
The very same individuals demanding Miss NH stop accepting a coat made of natural, locally sourced fibers by instead promoting the use of plastic fibers in faux fur, are also some of the same demanding an end to plastic usage due to the current degradation of our oceans and natural lands from said plastics.
We seriously couldn’t make this stuff up for web-page clicks if we tried! While these activists rabidly charge for an end to the usage of fur - they cite (and promote) the usage of petroleum-based “plastic” coat alternatives, while in the same keystroke share passionate stories of a need to “clean up” and remove those same plastics currently choking our oceans! They can’t stand the idea of regulated use of furbearing species in a controlled fashion, so much so that they’re willing to sacrifice marine life in the process - while telling you to stop using plastic for the environment.
Don’t just take my word for it, keep reading!
Synthetic clothing like polyester and nylon, for example, make up 60% of textile production in the world according to reports; and they rely on petrochemicals that are proven to be severely harmful to the environment. These synthetic materials are known to require more washing which obviously results in more water waste. Every polyester item washed releases micro-plastics into the world’s waterways leading to the death of countless flora and fauna according to many reports. Not to mention these products are known to be much less durable than natural materials, which means increased disposal of these materials ending up in landfills across the world - which in turn find their way into our natural environments and, inevitably, our oceans. As a back-country angler and omnivore - I have to eat those plastic-infused fish!
In a 2011 scientific paper by Mark A. Browne, it was determined that: “a large proportion of microplastic fibers found in the marine environment may be derived from sewage as a consequence of washing of clothes. As the human population grows and people use more synthetic textiles, contamination of habitats and animals by microplastic is likely to increase.”
Pot, meet the freaking Kettle. So much for the “holier than thou” approach.
Follow the leader
Miss New Hampshire isn’t the only one to feel the unsolicited effects of a recent “we know what’s best for you” ideology.
San Francisco is coming hot off a city-wide fur ban. Its a shame they couldn’t put that kind of effort into their homeless transient epidemic. (Read all about that one here.)
New York lawmakers have also just announced legislation to ban the sale of fur coats.
“Increasingly, consumers are looking to make ethical and sustainable purchases — fur is neither of those,” Says Linda Rosenthal (D-Manhattan), the assemblywoman responsible for introducing the ban.
Gee, that’s a similar argument used by the local protesters here in New Hampshire - an insinuation that fur isn’t popular, it isn’t ethical, and nobody wears it anymore.
Well if that was true, why conjure the need to force bans through lawmaking and force views of fur usage down people’s throats? If any of this was true, why do you need a petition and a campaign to forcefully impose your views on others after being repeatedly told to “go pound sand” by private citizens?
Something tells me the usage of fur isn’t as “unpopular” and “unethical” as these people claim if the masses need to be legally forced into believing it. On the contrary, the recent uptick in slandering the usage of fur is correlating with an increased interest in actual fur usage - with many media outlets calling the revival “the biggest fur boom since the French & Indian war.”
Neutral parties are starting catch on to the modern, regulated usage of wild fur - and its driving the “PETA crowd” (who’ve dominated the narrative for decades) absolutely batty.
A Question of Ethics?
If all that still isn’t enough, local critics of New Hampshire’s fur coat tradition have repeatedly implied that the Miss NH winner has the coat “forced upon her” by the pageant’s board members. This is not only a false statement, but speaks emphatically to the abhorrent behavior of these trapping critics. No one is forcing the NHTA coat upon any contestant, and I’m certain the NHTA wouldn’t throw the kind of temper tantrum we’re seeing now from the “anti-trapping crowd” if a pageant winner declined the coat. The only thing I’ve seen being “forced” on this subject are the local activists desperately trying to force their views upon others.
I’m curious how many people calling for Miss NH to sever ties with NHTA over a coat even knew about Miss NH prior to the posting of an online petition. More importantly, I wonder how many of those people will give two squirts of fox pee over Miss NH after the current publicity stunt settles. Like a barreling tornado of manufactured conflict, something tells me the Miss NH pageant will be left in the dust when those “claiming” the “moral high-ground” march onward to the next perceived social injustice.
I know for a fact the loudest ones protesting the Miss NH fur coat donation didn’t give a plugged nickel’s worth of time to the Miss NH program before they realized the NHTA was a sponsor. And I’ll be shocked if they give the program the same attention the NHTA does if/when the fur coat program is gone.
This animal rights mob seems to feel doxxing Miss NH board members and sharing social media screenshots of trappers symbolizes the smoking gun to “take down” decades of successful wildlife conservation and scientifically-endorsed ethical furbearer management. Alas - every state in the country still permits and promotes regulated trapping in one way or another. Why? Because its proven to be effective for healthy wildlife biodiversity. I didn’t make any of this up - it lingers in the halls of every state and national wildlife agency. Furthermore, NHTA’s fur coats aren’t made from the hides of rare and endangered chinchilla - these are furbearers with healthy and abundant populations we’re talking about. What better way to support our local wildlife diversity than by returning it back to the local community.
Bottom line, regulated trapping practices will still exist, and be needed, long after a young woman in New Hampshire is strong-armed and bullied into not accepting the gift of a fur coat.
As for the local activists…
Its easy to make someone else out to be a monster. Its hard, however, to see that you’re on that path yourself.