Congress says no to trapping restrictions on wildlife refuges

Congress says no to trapping restrictions on wildlife refuges


By: Patti Strand  Date: 01/13/2012 Category: | Wildlife Journal |

The Congressional conference committee reconciling the House and Senate versions of the Interior Department funding bill eliminated the trapping ban sought by animal rights activists. The ban passed the House in July but failed in the Senate.

The amendment from Representative Sam Farr, Democrat of California, would have banned the use of leghold traps and neck snares in wildlife refuges except for predator control, research, protection of refuge facilities, and subsistence, in effect banning only trapping by private citizens who make extra income by selling pelts. And although federal officials could continue to control predators with the same traps, experience in California indicates that they will be reluctant to do so because of the potential for lawsuits filed by animal rights activists.

Proponents of the measure want the leghold trap restricted as inhumane, but evidence shows that it is used to trap endangered animals for relocation and to protect endangered species from depredation. The trap actually grabs the animal by the foot, not the leg, and injuries and stress are unusual according to a report(1) on the California trap ban passed in 1998. Outdoor writer Ted Williams wrote in Audubon Magazine(2) that "trapping is still a useful tool for managing wildlife" but anti-trapping forces have been successful in spreading misinformation that the devices are cruel and therefore should be banned. Bans have been approved by the voters in California and Massachusetts with serious consequences. In Massachusetts, beavers wreak havoc on private and public property and endanger aquatic species as their population nearly tripled from 18,000 to more than 50,000. In California, where Audubon opposed the ban, non-native red foxes have a devastating impact on several endangered species of birds. Padded leghold traps are the primary method of trapping foxes. Williams wrote that when US Fish and Wildlife started trapping foxes to protect a colony of least terns in 1986, animal rights groups sued for an injunction and forced the agency to spend $500,000 on an environmental impact statement before trapping could resume. Even though the 1998 California ban allows agency officials to trap for predator control, virtually all trapping ended when the initiative passed.(3)

The National Trappers Association and various hunting groups campaigned heavily against the Farr amendment and convinced some members of Congress to examine it further.

Representative Ralph Regula, a Republican from Ohio, voted for the amendment in July, but reconsidered his stand in October. "I think this is something that demands a hearing before we take this step," Regula told the Associated Press.

Animal rights activists campaigned for the amendment to the final vote with full page ads showing a bald eagle caught in a leghold trap and the usual claims that pets are often victims of the traps and that animals chew off their limbs and suffer from severe stress if caught.

  1. "Effects of ProPaw initiative on threatened, endangered, and migratory bird species," by Dean Carrier, available at Wildlife Damage Control, PMB 102, 340 Cooley Street, Springfield, Massachusetts; (413) 796-9916.
  2. "Management by majority" by Ted Williams, Audubon Magazine,
  3. Ibid.



About The Author

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Patti Strand - NAIA President

Patti is a recognized expert and consultant on contemporary animal issues, most notably responsible dog ownership and the animal rights movement. She often appears on radio and television and her articles on canine issues, animal welfare, public policy and animal rights have appeared in major US news publications and in trade, professional and scientific journals. Patti and her…


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