In Utah, animals such as bobcats, foxes, coyotes and many others, may legally be ‘harvested’ through the use of traps, and thousands of wild animals are killed every year in this state alone. Trapping is a dangerous, cruel activity that threatens wildlife, humans and their pets. Trappers use devices such as steel-jaw traps, snares and conibear traps to catch animals for the fur trade, wildlife management, pest control, and hunting. They are often placed in areas where people hike or recreate, and near populated areas. Humans have been caught and injured in traps by inadvertently triggering one by stepping in it, or by attempting to free a trapped animal or pet. Trapping is indiscriminate and often captures unintended victims such as family pets, deer, cougars or endangered species like bald eagles.
Trapping devices used:
Snares: Categorized as either foot or neck/body snares. Generally, they are made of a light wire loop through a locking device and usually suspended from a small tree or a branch to catch an animal. As the animal moves forward, the wire snare pulls tight and traps the animal. The harder it struggles to free itself from the trap, the tighter the wire noose becomes. Snares are designed to kill by strangulation or crushing of vital organs. Depending on what part of the body was caught, it could take several minutes, hours or days for the trapped animal to die. Snares are very cheap and easy to set, so trappers will often saturate an area with dozens of them, to catch as many animals as possible.
Steel-jaw Leghold Trap:
The most common trap used by recreational and commercial fur trappers in the United States is the steel-jaw leghold trap. They are triggered when the animal steps between the jaws of the trap, causing it to slam shut on the victim’s leg or other parts of the body. Many animals react to the pain by desperately pulling against the trap in an attempt to free themselves. They often suffer bone fractures, blood loss, ripped tendons, dislocated shoulders, damage to their mouths from biting and chewing on the trap, starvation, and self-amputation. Those that manage to escape, often end up dying from their injuries.
“Padded” Leghold Traps:
These traps have a thin strip of synthetic nylon attached to the jaws of the trap. While trapping proponents tout the “padded” leghold trap as a humane alternative, numerous studies have shown that padded traps also cause severe injuries to their victims, and suffer the same types of injuries as with conventional leghold traps. Further, research also indicates that less than 5% of trappers even use padded traps.
Conibear traps work in a similar way to a mouse trap, but for a much larger animal. They are commonly referred to as a body grip trap and are designed to snap shut in a scissor-like action on the animal’s spinal column at the base of the skull. Trapping proponents tout conibear traps kill very quickly and are more humane than other types of traps. However, because it is impossible to control the species and size of the animal entering the trap, or the direction of travel, most animals do not die instantly and endure prolonged suffering. Conibear traps are often used in water to trap beaver and muskrat but are also used on land to capture bobcats, raccoons and other furbearers. Numerous studies have shown that Conibear traps do not kill instantly.
Utah law mandates that traps are only required to be checked every 48 hours, which exposes the trapped animals to excruciating pain, suffering, and slow death. Some types of traps that are intended to kill quickly, but may or may not do so, are only required to be checked every 96 hours. There are no bag limits for furbearers, except bobcats. Coyotes, muskrats, red fox, raccoon, and striped skunk can be trapped year-round, without a license.
When a trapper finally returns to check the trap, live animals are “dispatched” or inhumanely killed in ways that avoid damaging the animal’s fur. Animals may be shot, suffocated, choked, clubbed, stomped to death, or drowned, and sometimes skinned alive.
Trapping is a barbaric, inhumane activity that causes unimaginable suffering and often, a slow death. It threatens native and endangered wildlife, pets and people. We supposedly live in a civilized society, yet the United States traps more wildlife for the fur industry than any other country in the world; between 3 and 5 million animals each year. Trapping is not humane or representative of a civilized society; to inflict such cruelty, pain, and torture on any living being. Voices of Wildlife is working to put an end to this dangerous and archaic tradition that endangers people and slaughters our wildlife so indiscriminately.
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