On Trapping Laws, US Caught in the Dark Ages

The Global Legal Research Center of the Law Library of Congress released Laws on Leg-Hold Traps Around the World in August, a report that identifies countries that prohibit the use of steel-jaw leghold traps. The tally—based on an initial survey of international laws and regulations—is impressive in both size and scope: more than 100 countries prohibit or impose stringent limits on the use of traps.

Dozens of countries, from Albania to Uruguay, flatly prohibit hunting with traps. Some laws single out certain features. Mozambique, for example, bans traps that result in “indiscriminate killing.” Germany outlaws “devices that do not hold animals uninjured or do not kill them immediately.” For over half a century, Kenya has banned the “use of snares, traps, or any other device designed to cause ‘unnecessary suffering to an animal.’” Sweden outlaws “leg-hold traps, and all traps not selective in nature, that cause suffering to the animal, or are a threat to humans.”

One thing these laws have in common: They all outpace the United States. AWI and its allies in Congress are trying to change that. Three separate federal bills have been introduced that attempt to rectify our nation’s lax trapping laws and regulations: the Refuge from Cruel Trapping Act (HR 2016/S 1081), the Public Safety and Wildlife Protection Act (HR 5560), and the Limiting Inhumane Federal Trapping for Public Safety Act (HR 5954). Conversely, an AWI-opposed provision in a House bill (HR 2406)—which, as this issue goes to press, is being negotiated as part of a broad energy reform bill—threatens to expand the use of steel-jaw leghold traps and other body-gripping devices on public land.

The Library of Congress report provides legislators with important and timely information that underscores the critical need for the United States to modernize its trapping policies and prohibit the use of archaic and cruel leghold traps once and for all.

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