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The C.A.S.H. Courier

ARTICLE from the Spring 2010 Issue

C.A.S.H. Answers Trapping Question

This little raccoon should be the poster boy for all things wrong with trapping. Here's Rackus once again. His hands trapped off at two different times.

C.A.S.H. President, Joe Miele received the following request for information:

My name is Eva Mizer and I am a reporter with the online version of All Points North (found at www.apnmag.com). I am currently writing a story about accidents related to trapping, and would like to interview you through email. If you wouldn’t mind answering these questions by the end of the week, it would be greatly appreciated.

Joe replied with the following:

Thank you for contacting the Committee to Abolish Sport Hunting. I’ll be happy to help with your story about trapping.  Feel free to call me if you need additional information.

1. What is your opinion on trapping on public lands?

If I assume correctly, you’re speaking of recreational trapping, fur trapping, and sport trapping - not the kind of trapping that is done to help injured or orphaned animals or the kind that helps manage feral cat populations through Trap, Neuter, Return (TNR)

C.A.S.H. is opposed to all fur trapping and recreational trapping when the intent is to harm, rather than to help an animal.  We are opposed to it on both private and public lands.  We support animal damage control trapping when the animals are humanely and safely trapped and relocated. 

2. What are the general trapping laws that apply to most counties you
can explain?

Laws vary from state to state and county to county, but many include the amount of time an animal can remain in a trap, what kinds of traps can be used, what times of year trapping can occur, which species can be legally trapped, etc.  Some states do not have limits on seasons or the number of certain species that can be killed, and trapping these animals is unregulated to a large degree.

3. Are trappers required to register each trap? Are there other
guidelines for how many traps may be set in a given area?

Laws vary.  In certain circumstances trappers are required to obtain a trapping license and to mark their traps with their name and address, or an identification number approved by the state hunting agency.  I know of no laws that limit the number of traps that can be placed in a legal trapping area.

4. Have you ever witnessed or been a part of the investigation/rescue of
a trapping-related accident? When was it? Who was involved?

I have observed a wildlife rehabilitator as she was helping a hawk who had been caught in an illegal leghold trap (this was in New Jersey, many years ago)  The bird was able to recover, but she needed to be confined to a sanctuary because she was unreleasable.  The facility is named Raptor Trust.

5. Which is more common, trapping accidents on public or private land?

Trapping accidents are not as common as hunting accidents, but it seems that most take place on public land.  Each year there are many cases of dogs being caught in leghold traps or being killed by conibear traps.  A simple google search will yield many links for you to pursue.

6. What kind of traps are used for which kind of animal? Which are dangerous to humans, cats, and dogs?

Although there are several different kinds of traps, the main three are leghold traps, Conibear traps and snares. Leghold traps and conibear traps are used on the same species of animals - coyotes, minks, muskrats, weasels, beavers, otters.  Squirrels, fishers and marten are most often caught with conibear traps, while foxes and wolves are trapped most often with leghold traps.  Snares are often used on coyotes and bears.

Cats and dogs fall victim to each of the kinds of traps.  There have been instances of children being caught by leghold traps and conibears, but because of their footwear they have not been seriously injured. 

7. The stereotypical trap in the public eye is the kind with metal
teeth, is this trap used often, if ever? What is the most common trap

Leghold traps with teeth are still legal in the following states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. They are not used as often as traps without teeth, but they are still legal for use.  The most commonly used trap is indeed the leghold trap.

8. What is your advice to people traveling through parks and private
land to avoid getting caught in a trap?

The risk to people is very slim, but dogs who are allowed off-leash run a significant risk of being caught.  My advice is to know when trapping season is open and to not allow ones’ dogs to run free.  Trappers cannot be trusted to keep their traps away from areas where people bring their animals for a little bit of recreation.

9. If you find a trap, what should you do? Set it off with a stick and
remove it? Report it to the police?

Disturbing a legally-placed trap is against the law in all 50 states.  In New Jersey, leghold traps are illegal in all cases so if someone finds one the best thing to do is to set it off with a sturdy stick and then turn it in to the police.  Since possessing a leghold trap is illegal in New Jersey, turning it in to the police is a requirement.  In other states, if you find a trap that has been set outside of trapping season, my advice would be to carefully set it off and then to take it home.  There is nothing illegal about disturbing an illegally placed trap.

10. If a person wanted to formally protest trapping in general, what
would they have to do?

There are many areas to pursue.  Getting in touch with local officials to ban trapping within a local municipality is a positive step.  Nation-wide bans on leghold traps are often introduced but they die in committee due to lack of support.  Writing letters and op-eds to newspapers is a way to keep the issue in the public eye. Public demonstrations outside of stores that sell traps can educate the public.  Setting up information booths at street fairs and community events is also a positive thing that someone can do.

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