Animals In Print
The On-Line Newsletter
From 29 October 2002 Issue
Leg-hold traps are barbaric and indiscriminate killers
by Richard Donovan in the Idaho Statesman
Edition Date: 08-30-2002
A Kuna family´s pet "was put out of its misery" after stepping in a leg-hold trap in a popular recreation area near Stanley, according to an article in
the Aug. 13 Idaho Statesman. The trap was set by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service just 20 inches off a well-used hiking trail in a public recreation area. The parents expressed concern that their young son could have easily stepped in the trap.
Unfortunately, this incident is not uncommon. Trappers kill over 10 million animals in the United States each year. Although fur trapping is on the decline, business for "nuisance" animals is booming. Animals trapped because they are damaging property accounted for roughly one- third of the animals
killed. However, leg-hold traps are indiscriminate and can harm a wide range
of victims. They catch any animal that triggers them, including family pets,
protected species, raptors, birds and even humans. For every "target"
animal, at least two other "non-target" animals are trapped.
The American Animal Hospital Association, American Veterinary Medical
Association and American Humane Association have issued policy statements
opposing the use of leg-hold traps on the grounds that they are cruel and
inhumane. These traps, designed to slam closed and tightly grip a leg or
other body part, cause extreme suffering, pain and fear. Victims sustain
lacerations, broken bones, joint dislocations and torn ligaments in their struggle for freedom. Animals often chew off a leg to escape or break teeth by biting the metal trap. Victims are usually alive and suffering for hours or days and may die as a result of fatal wounds, blood loss, thirst, starvation, exposure to the elements and predation by other animals while they are vulnerable.
Carter Niemeyer from the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service explained that the teeth of the leg-hold traps for the wolf "recovery" project were to keep the animal´s foot from sliding and being damaged until biologists return the
next morning to inject a tranquilizer and fit a radio collar. Understanding the damage caused to the victim of such a device, which is well documented, it appears Mr. Niemeyer not only made an error in judgment for the location of
the leg-hold traps, but in using them as a means for capture.
In November 1996, a national poll indicated 74 percent of Americans support
banning leg-hold traps. During the 1990s, voters in four states, including
Arizona and Colorado, succeeded in outlawing or severely restricting their
use. These barbaric devices have been banned or severely restricted in seven
states and over 80 countries worldwide. In 1995, the European Union banned the use of leg-hold traps and the importation of pelts from animals killed in this fashion. The United States was given notice that as of Jan. 1, 1996, fur
products would not be accepted for import into the European Union unless the use of leg-hold traps was banned or internationally agreed-upon humane
trapping methods adopted. Despite the high percentage of public opposition, the United States has failed to enact legislation, and in fact, its own agencies like the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, employ archaic and brutal devices which inflict horrible suffering and agonizing death. It is irresponsible to
continue with these barbaric practices and time to join the civilized world by
managing wildlife humanely and scientifically.
The Idaho Humane Society opposes the use of leg-hold traps not only on the
grounds that they are cruel and inhumane, but on the very real threat to the
safety of companion animals and children. We are asking for public support
through letters to elected officials advocating legislation to ban leg-hold traps and other inhumane trapping devices. We are also imploring Idaho trappers, private and governmental, to seek more humane methods.
Return to Animals in Print 29 Oct 2002 Issue
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