THE FLAP over whether the Wisconsin Trappers Association should be allowed to promote their cause at Forest Fest in Eagle River is nothing new, for there will always be people who don’t understand and don’t support trapping.

Varied opinions in letters to the editor have hit our Forum Section in recent weeks, all of which were sparked by a letter that criticized Trees For Tomorrow for allowing a trapping-related booth at the annual event.

Opponents of the sport often minimize the significance of wildlife management and will never admit that the alternatives to trapping — disease and starvation included — are hardly more acceptable or more humane.

Out of touch with the history of our country and the outdoor traditions we’ve passed from generation to generation, the “antis” for the lack of a better word can’t relate to any of the positive impacts that trapping and hunting bring.

Renee Glembin of Milwaukee was totally correct on one very important point: “It is clear we all have diametrically opposed viewpoints on the purpose of animals in our world.”

To take that a step further, the animals rights folks believe a pig is a dog is a boy. They put animals on the same level as humans, calling them “fellow travelers on our life journey that we need to learn to live with harmoniously.”

To the charge that recreation is a part of hunting and trapping, we have to plead guilty. No doubt about it. But there is also heritage, family bonding, quality dinners from nature, personal challenges, and keeping people in touch with the great outdoors.

And while opponents of these sports always focus on economics as a negative factor, we who trap and hunt know that our investment in equipment and supplies supports a lot of American workers.

I’m not convinced that the word “humane” belongs in this discussion, for it would be difficult to argue that any form of killing for sport or food is truly humane.

The scribbler fully supports the meat packing industry and the grocery outlets that sell a wide variety of meat products, yet everyone should know that millions of animals are killed every day to feed humans.

What we do as hunters and trappers as we pursue these traditional, time-honored outdoor pursuits is attempt to utilize methods that create the quickest, most ethical way to harvest an animal.

It’s not a perfect system and nobody ever claimed it was. But we’re still talking about animals, not humans, and that’s the basic ideological difference in this debate.

Glembin quoted the Humane Society of the United States, a left-wing organization that opposes hunting, trapping and just about anything related to these sports.

I purposely point out that they represent the liberal left because of the irony and contradiction of their actions. Trapping and hunting are inhumane, they claim, yet many of these same people support abortion.

I’m no expert on anything, but even I can ascertain that the word “inhumane” is based on the word human. So one would think that mistreatment of the human fetus would be very high on their target list for protection, instead of the complete opposite.

The truth of the economic side is that there’s not a lot of money in trapping these days, for the prices being paid for raw furs have been depressed for years.

Yet die-hard trappers who enjoy their sport continue to pursue fur-bearing animals, sometimes resorting to using the furs for their own winter gloves, hats and garments when prices are low.

Opponents claim that trappers harvest animals only for their fur, but that’s not entirely true. I know a trapper in Sugar Camp who uses the meat from every beaver he catches — and beaver meat makes some great snack sticks and summer sausage.

Whether Americans like it or not, we’ve put ourselves in a position to manage wild animal populations. Not only that, but we spend millions of dollars every year trying to improve wildlife habitat and to keep those wild populations entirely sustainable for future generations.

Part of the economic picture that also escapes the “antis” is that hunters, anglers and trappers are the real conservationists in this country.

They have consented to excise taxes and license requirements that raise millions of dollars for wildlife management, habitat improvement and law enforcement. Some of those funds are used to purchase public lands and make facilities improvements that benefit wildlife and the general public as well.

The Humane Society of the United States spends little if any money to improve habitat or animal populations. And that’s true of most organizations that oppose hunting and trapping.

Trees For Tomorrow is completely correct in arguing that organizations such as the Wisconsin Trappers Association belong at an event such as Forest Fest.

Trappers not only use our forests but they help support wildlife management and conservation. They are not the public enemy that the Humane Society would like you to believe.

Trapping was an integral part of the early exploration and colonization of America. Native Americans, held in high esteem for their environmental compassion, trapped extensively.

There’s really not much else to say. And it is for these reasons — all of them — that trapping is a legal, well-regulated and important part of outdoor recreation in most states.

Thank you to the Wisconsin Trappers Association and Trees For Tomorrow for helping educate those who might not realize all of the different ways our forest resources are used.