Trapping Myth No. 5: Trapping controls the spread of disease

Trappers play on the public’s fear of rabies and other diseases by arguing that trapping is necessary to control the spread of disease – but there’s no science behind this claim. The Centers for Disease Control, the National Academy of Sciences, and the World Health Organization, as well as many other scientific, public health, and veterinary organizations, disagree with trappers’ claims. The National Academy of Sciences subcommittee on rabies concluded that, “Persistent trapping or poisoning campaigns as a means to rabies control should be abolished. There is no evidence that these costly and politically attractive programs reduce either wildlife reservoirs or rabies incidence. The money can be better spent on research, vaccination, compensation to stockmen for losses, education and warning systems.”

Rather, trapping can actually increase the spread of disease.  By removing mature animals who have acquired immunity to disease, trappers make room for newcomers who may not be immune. In addition, animals infected with rabies do not eat during the latter stages of the disease, and therefore do not respond to baited traps. Hence, traps set in an area infected with rabies will more than likely capture healthy animals rather than infected animals, thereby increasing the likelihood that the disease will spread.