“Lost” One; Won One in The Battle Against Cruelty
Apparently I am a champion of mice. Well, not really. Mice are vermin and frequently need to be removed from human occupied buildings. I understand that and have for many, many years. But I’ve fought “the man” twice about how they take care of the situation.
My first encounter was at a six-week long camp for girls in the Gila Wilderness in New Mexico. I, at 16, was in the senior “cabin” – a dorm that housed 10-12 girls and we had a mouse problem. So the owners/directors of the camp decided that they’d trap the mice to get rid of them. They set out live-catch traps because they didn’t want to traumatize the girls in the cabin by using snap traps. Sounds considerate, doesn’t it? Well, the trap worked and they caught a live mouse. Of course the mouse had been traumatized but “that didn’t matter.” Okay, I can understand that, too.
But what did they do with the mouse?
I found out when I was taking a short cut through the woods back to the cabin. I came upon two/three men getting ready to put the cage into the creek to drown the mouse inside. That was pure and simple cruelty.
I raised quite a fuss and got the whole camp all excited. (Admittedly, I was a bit extreme but I had to make my point and 16 year old girls are very seldom listened to by adults.) If you’re going to kill it, then use the snap trap (I know sometimes they don’t work right, but most times they do.) At least a properly working snap trap will kill the mouse quickly but to capture it live, have lots of squealing girls crowd around it terrifying it more, then to lift it up off the ground and move it at terrifying speed (either faster or slower than it’s used to moving) and finally to plunge it into cold running water to drown it struck me as unnecessarily cruel. I argued that they should have taken the mouse across the stream and across the road to release it if they were going to go to all the trouble to live trap it. Finally they convinced me that they wouldn’t drown the mouse.
That evening after dinner, I was told to hurry up and pack as my father was coming to take me home two days early. They didn’t say why (but I could guess.)
When my father and I were driving home he asked me what was the mouse thing all about. I told him. He didn’t say one word against what I’d done. How could he? I was making a stand against cruelty. My mother, on the other hand, wasn’t all that pleased with me when I got home although I think my father explained it to her. She was fine the next day.
Now fast forward 20+ years. I’m working at a construction/maintenance site for the Lab. Our building was a transportable on top of a mesa in the high mountain desert. Hot, dry, and the perfect place for mice to come in out of the heat or avoid the numerous bull and rattlesnakes.
Management wants to keep the mice out or get rid of them if they come in. So they set out sticky traps. Sticky traps are nothing more than small plastic pans filled with super-glue topped with a piece or two of bait. They don’t kill the rodent, just make it stick around until it can be disposed of.
I came in to work one morning in the summer to learn that we had caught a mouse. It had started sniffing at the bait and had gotten its cheek stuck in the trap. It was terrified.
I asked what they’d do to it and was told that they just throw it in the dumpster. It was summer – we’d already been pushing 90 before noon – they were going to throw this poor animal in the dumpster to let it succumb to heat or thirst.
I picked up the trap. The mouse was shaking and trembling. I took it up to the machine shop where the work crews were getting ready to go out on their assignments. I stroked the mouse and talked gently to it.
I found two men in a truck and asked, with tears in my eyes, if they would help me. I wanted to put the trap just behind their front wheel and have them back up over it. It would be a much quicker and more compassionate way of ending the rodent’s life. The driver agreed.
I bent down to set the trap behind the wheel and the mouse quit trembling. It seemed to me that it knew what I was going to do and was relieved it wouldn’t have to be caught any more. The truck did its job. After, I had a hell of a time scrapping the glue trap with it’s burden off the tire. Then I put the trap in the dumpster.
A few weeks later I heard that the Lab would no longer use the sticky traps to get rid of mice.
So two minor skirmishes in the battle against cruelty. What would you battle for or against?