U.S. House of Representatives Takes Action to Protect Animals Against Cruel Traps on National Wildlife Refuges

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Washington, D.C. -- Today, Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) introduced legislation to end the use of brutal traps on furbearing animals within federal wildlife refuges. The Refuge from Cruel Trapping Act, H.R. 2657, is intended to help to restore the original intent of the National Wildlife Refuge System by placing a ban on the use of cruel body-gripping traps on these public lands.

"The use of steel jaw leg-hold traps and other barbaric mechanisms has no place in National Wildlife Refuges or other public lands," said Congresswoman Lowey. "Body-gripping traps are cruel and inhumane, and it is time to end this brutal practice once and for all."

Currently, animals living within National Wildlife Refuges (NWRs) are at risk of falling victim to body gripping traps where they may be tortured for hours or days - struggling to be free of the long-drawn-out pain inflicted on them by the traps. More than half of our country’s refuges currently allow trapping using steel jaw leghold traps, Conibear traps and snares. Steel jaw leg-hold traps are designed to restrain the animal by the leg, and some animals who are caught may chew off their own limb to escape on three legs. Conibear traps are designed to crush the animal’s spinal column for a quick kill. However, the trap often misses and clamps down on the chest or pelvis, crushing bones and causing the animal excruciating pain and prolonged death. Snares are among the oldest form of trap, a simple noose made of thin wire, which tightens around an animals neck or body as the animal struggles to get away.

Federal legislation is needed to stop this barbaric practice, currently allowed on more than half of our nation’s 550 refuges. These inhumane traps have been banned or severely restricted in 89 other nations and in 8 states throughout the United States. According to a 1989 study conducted by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal Damage Control division, such traps are indiscriminate and on average take 10.8 non-target animals for each trapped target animal. Referred to as “trash” animals by the trapper, non-target wildlife often are simply thrown away. Non-target animals that may be caught include raptors, songbirds, and deer.

"The Refuge from Cruel Trapping Act is a critical step toward reducing the suffering inflicted on our nation’s wildlife," said Cathy Liss, AWI President. "The Animal Welfare Institute applauds Congresswoman Lowey for her leadership in seeking to protect both target and non-target animals from traps that cause extensive physical trauma."

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Media Contacts:
Chris Heyde, AWI, (202) 446-2142