If these cruel traps were judged by the agony they inflict, they would never be justified.
SOME FACTS AND TALKING POINTS
• The use of body-gripping traps is cruel. The suffering of animals caught and held
by leg hold traps for long hours or days is unjustifiable: the struggle to be free,
the agony of a limb imprisoned in sub-zero cold, the pain of injuries caused by the
all-out fight to escape, the broken teeth from biting at the trap, the thirst, hunger,
anxiety, terror, the menace of attack by other animals. And the way of death: the
trapper clubs the animal, then stands on its chest to cause suffocation.
• The American Veterinary Medical Association’s position on leg hold traps: "The
AVMA considers the steel jaw leghold trap to be inhumane."
• Until the last few years, there has been no economic incentive for fur trapping.
It has been a "sport." Animal fur is now back in fashion and trapping is on the
increase, with bobcat being the most in demand. The ODFW issued 1283 licenses for
the 2007-08 fur season, up from 891 in 2002. Even at today’s prices however, trappers
earn on average only about $600/season (see fur prices).
• During the 20008-09 trapping season, 19,148 animals were taken by Oregon fur trappers.
Often just for fun. That does not include non-targeted animals or victims of wildlife
management trapping. Click for trapping statistics.
• The ODFW actively promotes trapping. Like most state wildlife agencies, the ODFW
is funded mostly from the sale of hunting, trapping and fishing licenses. ODFW staff
defend trapping as a "long established and traditional practice," regardless of its
ethics and morality. Considering the brutality and indifference to animal suffering
inherent in trapping, how is it different from the dog-fighting industry, which is
illegal throughout the USA? Anybody who treated a domestic animal the way trappers
treat Oregon’s wildlife would be charged with a crime.
• It seems wrong that a state agency should promote and defend a practice so contemptuous
toward animal suffering. From another perspective, it's as if the ODFW should say
to an elk hunter, "Go shoot an elk in the stomach or the leg, just wound it, then
leave and come back in a couple of days to finish it off."
• The number of non-targeted animals caught is not reported by Oregon fur trappers,
but in studies, the ratio of non-targeted to targeted is at least 1:1, with 2 or
3:1 not being unusual. Non-targeted animals are usually killed. Protected animals
are often victims. Prior to anti-trapping restrictions in Arizona, trapping was the
number one cause of bald eagle deaths in that state. Now that wolves are moving into
Oregon, they too will be very much at risk from trapping.
• Hunting and fishing organizations such as The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Ducks
Unlimited and Trout Unlimited traditionally contribute towards habitat restoration
and wildlife conservation. Individuals volunteer time and money in an effort to preserve
and expand healthy ecosystems. Trapping organizations and trappers themselves contribute
nothing. They are purely exploitive.
• Oregon has no regulations stipulating how far from public roads, paths and trails
traps can be set. Incidences of dogs being caught, injured and in some cases killed
along popular recreational trails have increased in recent years. There is no requirement
to post traps. In fact, posters will usually be removed, sometimes by officials.
It is illegal to disturb a trap. There is no penalty for trapping a pet, even if
it's killed. Nobody knows how many dogs (or other non-targeted animals) have been
killed and discarded, no word uttered, a practice sometimes known as “shoot, shovel
A Conversation With A Trapper
Trappers and the ODFW consistently claim trapping is humane. Beyond the common sense
judgement that being caught in a steel leg-hold trap cannot by any definition be
“humane,” a conversation with former USFW Idaho Wolf Project Leader Carter Niemeyer
at the National Wolf Conference in April 2008 shows that trappers and wildlife managers
are fully aware of the suffering caused by trapping. Mr. Niemeyer, who has trapped
for 51 years, confirmed that:
• The impact of the trap jaws is powerful and can cause fractures. It is similar
to being hit with a hammer. Even animals released within an hour often suffer injury.
• So-called “softcatch” traps with padded or rubber jaws are more harmful than offset
steel-jawed traps because the jaws compress around the foot, acting as a tourniquet.
Although there’s little sign of damage, even a short time in the trap later causes
necrosis and loss of the foot. Mr. Niemeyer added that these traps are produced solely
so they can be described as “humane.”
• Fur trappers will often set 300 traps or more, known as long-line trapping. With
this many traps, it can be two or more days between trap checks.
• Trapping may be considered necessary (for instance to trap wolves for collaring),
but no one can truthfully call it humane.
Carter Niemeyer is one of the foremost experts on trapping wolves for the wolf recovery
program. Wolves are trapped with leg-hold traps, collared and released. He is also
a leader in non-lethal methods of managing wolf predation of livestock and has provided
training to the ODFW for Oregon’s Wolf Recovery Plan.
•There is no limit on the number of traps and serious trappers will set more than
100 at a time; some trap lines may include as many as 300. While leghold are the
most common type, Conibear traps and snares are also popular, especially for beaver,
but also for most other furbearers. All these traps and M44 poison too are used year
around on public and private land for animal control.