Wildlife Conservation Groups Commend Introduction of Refuge from Cruel Trapping Act

H.R. 2016/S. 1081 would prohibit body-gripping traps on National Wildlife Refuges

Washington, DC—Leading animal welfare and wildlife conservation organizations this week announced support for the reintroduction of the Refuge from Cruel Trapping Act (H.R. 2016/S. 1081) in both the US House of Representatives by Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) and the US Senate by Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ). This bill would ban the use or possession of all body-gripping animal traps—including snares, Conibear traps, and steel-jaw leghold traps—on lands within the National Wildlife Refuge System (NWRS).

Born Free USA, the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) commend Congresswoman Lowey and Senator Booker for backing the bill and urge swift passage of the legislation to ensure that all National Wildlife Refuges are safe havens for wildlife.

“Indiscriminate body-gripping traps on public land affect the welfare of wild animals and humans alike,” said Congresswoman Lowey. “That’s why I reintroduced the Refuge from Cruel Trapping Act to prohibit the use of inhumane steel jaw leghold traps, Conibear kill traps, and snares within our National Wildlife Refuge System. We need to address this inherent cruelty and restore the true meaning of ‘refuge.’”

"The use of body-gripping animal traps in federal wildlife refuges is contrary to the very mission and purpose of these protected areas. These cruel traps don't distinguish between targeted animals and protected animals, endangered species or pets, and are a safety hazard to people. It's past time to remove this antiquated and inhumane practice from federal wildlife refuges," said Sen. Booker.

“Animals and people should have the freedom to enjoy these Refuges without the threat of stepping into a body-gripping trap,” said Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA and the Born Free Foundation. “The brutality of these traps is shocking; they can crush limbs and organs, and animals often remain trapped for days, in massive pain, before dying. It is inexcusable to subject any animal to such a fate on lands intended for their preservation.”

The NWRS encompasses the most comprehensive and diverse collection of fish and wildlife habitats in the world, and provides a home for more than 240 endangered species. Overall, the NWRS harbors species of more than 700 birds, 220 mammals, 250 reptiles and amphibians, and 200 fish. Despite the NWRS’ mission “to administer a national network of lands and waters for the conservation, management, and where appropriate, restoration of the fish, wildlife, and plant resources and their habitats within the United States for the benefit of present and future generations of Americans,” a staggering 54 percent of the refuges within the system allow trapping on refuge grounds.

"Body-gripping traps slam closed with bone-crushing force on any animal that trips the device, while strangling snares tighten around the neck or body of their victims until death finally ends the torture. This cruelty should not be permitted in any place that is called a ‘refuge,’” said Cathy Liss, president of AWI. “Passage of this legislation would be a crucial step toward reducing the suffering inflicted on our nation’s wildlife.”

IFAW campaigns officer Carson Barylak added, “The Refuge from Cruel Trapping Act will put a stop to the use of cruel and ecologically destructive traps on wildlife refuges, allowing these public lands to serve their intended purpose—preserving wildlife and ensuring that all Americans can enjoy our shared natural heritage on refuges.”

Born Free USA, AWI, and IFAW assert that animals and people should have freedom to enjoy National Wildlife Refuges without that danger present, and urge other members of Congress to join Congresswoman Lowey and Sen. Booker in support of H.R. 2016/S. 1081.