Human Crimes Against Animals, Part 17 - Fur Trapping
An Animal Rights Article from


Dave Bernazani

(Global)– a whole separate atrocity from fur farming and skinning– animals left in traps, sometimes for days. Often stomped on by trappers if found still alive. About two-thirds of the animals caught in the indiscriminate traps are “junk” catch– animals not used for fur, including domestic dogs and cats.

Although the majority of animals slaughtered for their fur come from notoriously cruel fur factory farms, every year, trappers kill 10 million raccoons, coyotes, wolves, bobcats, opossums, nutria, beavers, otters, and other fur-bearing animals.

Varieties of Trapping

There are various types of traps, including snares, underwater traps, and Conibear traps, but the leghold trap is the most widely used. The American Veterinary Medical Association calls these traps “inhumane.” This simple but barbaric device has been banned in 88 countries and in a growing number of states across the U.S. since 1973, including California, Florida, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Washington state. In 1994, Arizona banned the use of leghold traps on public lands. California voters prohibited all commercial leghold traps in 1998, and Washington voters followed suit, adding a ban on body-gripping traps, in November 2000.

trapped coyote

When an animal steps on the leghold trap spring, the trap’s jaws slam on the animal’s limb. The animal will frantically struggle in excruciating pain as the trap cuts into his or her flesh, often down to the bone, mutilating the foot or leg. Some animals, especially mothers desperate to get back to their young, fight so vigorously that they attempt to chew or twist off their trapped limb. This struggle may last hours. Eventually, the animal succumbs to exhaustion and often exposure, frostbite, shock, and death.

If trapped animals do not die from blood loss, infection, or gangrene, they will probably be killed by predators or hunters. Victims of water-set traps, including beavers and muskrats, can take up to 20 agonizing minutes to drown.

Because many trapped animals are mutilated by predators before trappers return, pole traps are often used. A pole trap is a form of leghold trap that is set in a tree or on a pole. Animals caught in these traps are hoisted into the air and left to hang by the caught appendage until they die or the trapper arrives to kill them. Conibear traps crush animals’ necks, applying 90 pounds of pressure per square inch. It takes animals three to eight minutes to suffocate in these traps.

Traps Do Not Always Kill

For animals who stay alive in the traps, further torture awaits them when the trappers return. State regulations on how often trappers must check their traps vary from 24 hours to one week. Some states have no regulations at all. To avoid damaging the pelt, trappers usually beat or stomp their victims to death. A common stomping method is to pin the head with one foot and stand on the chest area near the heart with the other foot for several minutes, which suffocates the animal.

"Accidental" Victims

dog caught in bear trap

Every year, dogs, cats, birds, and other animals, including endangered species, are crippled or killed by traps. Trappers call these animals “trash kills” because they have no economic value. In Middleboro, Mass., the body of a skinned dog was found with his front paw missing. Evidence led the investigating officer to believe a trapper caught the dog in a leghold trap, then shot and skinned him. In Oregon, a woman watched helplessly as her companion dog let out screams of pain after stepping into a steel-jaw leghold trap hidden in a meadow frequented by people and their companion dogs. It took three firefighters 24 grueling minutes to release the terrified dog from the trap. In Montana, a woman walking her dogs on public land struggled frantically as her canine companion screamed and writhed in agony when he suddenly became trapped by a baited Conibear trap. She unsuccessfully tried to release the clamp as her beloved companion slowly suffocated. “I’ve never seen anything as traumatic as this girl trying to raise the dog from the trap,” said a witness who heard the woman’s screams for help. Later, she discovered that another dog had been caught in a Conibear trap on the same trapline only six days earlier and that the trapper responsible for the traps had been informed at that time by a game warden.

Ecological Concerns

Contrary to fur-industry propaganda, there is no ecologically sound reason to trap animals for fur; In fact, trapping disrupts wildlife populations by killing healthy animals needed to keep their species strong, and populations are further damaged when the parents of young animals are killed. Left alone, animal populations can and do regulate their own numbers. Even if human intervention or an unusual natural occurrence caused an animal population to rise temporarily, the group would soon stabilize through natural processes no more cruel, even at their worst, than the pain and trauma of being trapped and slaughtered by humans. Killing animals because they might starve or might get sick is simply an excuse for slaughter motivated by greed and ignorance

Recent progress: Israel has introduced the world’s first nationwide bill to prohibit the fur industry in its entirety, including all importation, production and all sales in Israel. Also the 2009 EU ban on seal fur will make a huge difference on the annual Canadian seal slaughter.

Who’s fighting it: HSUS, IDA, Mercy for Animals, Animal Alliance, Peta, ALF,, Born Free USA, Life Force Foundation, ALV, Fur-Bearer Defenders,,,,,,,,

Go to Human Crimes Against Animals, Part 18 - Gorilla Murder and the Bushmeat Trade
Go to Human Crimes Against Animals - Introduction

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