Body-gripping traps: cruel & indiscriminate

Body-gripping traps are indiscriminate. Many companion dogs and cats have been caught, maimed or killed in these dreadful devices, and even with the help of frantic humans, they have died in shock and pain because these traps are nearly impossible to open without the correct key device to release the locking mechanism. These traps can and often do catch non-target wildlife species of no value to fur trappers, including birds and even rare and endangered animals. In Nevada, trappers are allowed to set such traps next to and even on trails used by hikers and hunters….and their dogs!   And there is no set-back distance from communities (see our Testimonials section and you’ll see a recent example of a dog trapped just 50 yards from a housing development in the Reno city limits.)

We define “body-gripping traps” as leghold traps; neck snares; leg or foot snares; and Conibear and other traps designed to instantly kill by crushing the neck or torso of the animal. Some such devices may kill instantly but more often the victims suffer severe physical injury, psychological trauma, thirst, hypothermia, frost bite and predation.

Trappers have designed a class of “quick-kill” traps that supposedly kill instantly by slamming shut on an animal’s body, crushing vital organs. Like all traps, they don’t always work as planned, often with horrific results. The animal may enter a “quick-kill” trap the wrong way, and is partly crushed, and dies slowly. Snow and ice conditions can prevent proper closure. Aquatic mammals, like beavers, reflexively close off their air passages when submerged, and slowly suffocate while frantically trying to reach the surface, dying in terror without actually drowning.  A beaver can take 20 minutes to die in such a “quick kill” trap.

Hunting: Choose fair chase, not trapping

Hunting season is approaching, and, although I no longer hunt, I still feel the stirrings of the primordial urge to go out and bring wild game back to my cave. Through the years, most of my friends have also been hunters. Barring a very few bad apples, they all share with me the dedication to “fair chase” when it comes to bagging a deer or elk.

Central to the fair chase is being sure that one makes a clean, humane kill. Ideally, the animal “didn’t know what hit him.“ Wounding an animal and having to track it down to finish it off is deeply regretted, not just because of the extra time and effort it takes, but because of the hunter’s remorse that he has caused the animal unnecessary pain and suffering. I believe Fish, Wildlife and Parks even has regulations requiring a hunter to make every effort to not allow a wounded animal to escape and die a slow, painful death.

And yet, there is a “sport” in which an integral part of the activity involves causing an animal great physical pain and emotional trauma, even under the most ideal conditions. This sport is called trapping and, far from being condemned by the FWP as one would expect of such a cruel, inhumane activity, it is condoned, licensed, and they are now offering classes.

Any hunter who believes in fair chase should denounce the whole idea of trapping, and should demand that it be prohibited. It not only is unnecessary (fur bearers for the most part do not need to have their numbers held in check as herds of deer or elk do) but, by association, it gives a black eye to legitimate hunting.

John Ohrmann, Drummond

(published in the Missoulian, Oct. 2012)

[ed note: NRWM is not arguing for the abolishment of trapping, but reasonable and human regulation.]