Washington, DC—Representatives Alma Adams (D-NC) and Nita Lowey (D-NY) have introduced the Public Safety and Wildlife Protection Act (H.R. 5560), a bill that would curtail the use of steel-jaw leghold traps and Conibear (also known as kill-type) traps in the United States.
The Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) welcomes this comprehensive bill that would prohibit interstate commerce in and shipment of the two most notorious types of body-gripping traps—cruel devices that can inflict tremendous suffering on any animal caught in the metal jaws. The powerful clamping force of these traps can also pose a threat to people who mistakenly trigger and are caught in the devices.
Introduction of the Public Safety and Wildlife Protection Act was spurred in part by a horrific incident that occurred just outside Rep. Adams’ district in North Carolina. In 2015, a 12-year-old boy was injured by a Conibear trap when he was playing near a pond in his neighborhood. It took a team of six doctors and several hours in the emergency room to pry the boy’s arm free from the trap’s metal jaws.
“The preservation of human life and wildlife is a priority that lawmakers must take seriously. We can no longer afford to disregard the ill effects that animal cruelty has on our ecosystem and on us as well,” said Rep. Adams. “Steel-jaw leghold and Conibear traps are body-gripping tools that are inhumane and archaic. They also pose unnecessary risks to humans, especially young children. That is why I am proud to introduce this important piece of legislation with my colleague, Congresswoman Lowey.”
Although Conibear and steel-jaw leghold traps remain legal in most of the United States, including North Carolina, a number of states have instituted restrictions or outright prohibitions on them. Over 80 countries have banned steel-jaw leghold traps. By prohibiting interstate trade in these two traps, the Public Safety and Wildlife Protection Act would facilitate the phase-out of Conibear and steel-jaw leghold traps, thus making people, wildlife, and pets safer while promoting sound conservation policies.
Millions of animals are trapped and killed each year in the United States through the use of body-gripping traps. Due to their nonselective nature, Conibear and steel-jaw leghold traps injure not only the targeted wildlife species frequently sought by trappers for their pelts, but also companion animals, endangered and threatened species, raptors, ungulates, and—as the recent North Carolina incident illustrates—even children. When triggered, the jaws of a leghold or Conibear trap slam shut with bone-crushing force. Victims endure excruciating pain and frequently suffer lacerations, fractures, and torn or severed ligaments and tendons.
“Body-gripping traps are an archaic and indiscriminate method of catching wildlife,” said Rep. Lowey. “They cause tremendous suffering to animals and put humans at an unnecessary risk for injury. That is why I am proud to join Congresswoman Adams in introducing the Public Safety and Wildlife Protection Act. It is time for the United States to address the inherent cruelty of these devices and ban their use.”
“The vast majority of Americans have no interest in permitting animals to suffer in these gruesome devices, let alone run the risk of being caught in one of these traps hidden alongside a trail,” added Joanna Grossman, federal policy advisor for AWI. “AWI commends Rep. Lowey, a longtime champion in fighting inhumane traps, and Rep. Adams, who likewise represents a strong voice for animal welfare on the Hill, for advancing this commonsense bill that will help ensure that Americans can enjoy the outdoors without fear that they or their companion animals will fall victim to a Conibear or leghold trap.”
Amey Owen, 202-446-2128, email@example.com