Friday, October 7, 2022
HomeWildlifeCruel Trapping Makes Wildlife Refuges Unsafe

Cruel Trapping Makes Wildlife Refuges Unsafe

Eagle trapped with leghold

It’s not something that I tend to think about (nor would I want to) as indiscriminately catching animals with body-gripping traps seems like something that could only be witnessed with the aid of transportation designed by H.G. Wells.  But the fact remains that trapping is not limited to the pages of history and is actually occurring in what I thought were nature’s safe havens.

Coyotes, bobcats, otters, foxes, mink, raccoons, wolves, beaver, and other targeted species that reside within our National Wildlife Refuge System are feeling the intense pressure of steel jaw leg-hold traps clamping down on their limbs.  But the victims are not limited to those for which the traps were intended.  In what can only be described as terra firma bycatch, Bald eagles, Canada lynx, gray wolves and other endangered and threatened species are finding themselves at risk in our National Wildlife Refuges.

According to a survey conducted by the FWS in 1997, more than half (280) of all refuges allow trapping of wildlife with various traps including leghold traps, Conibear kill-traps and neck snares. Commercial and recreational trapping with leghold traps and strangulation neck snares was almost banned in 1999 when the House of Representatives voted 259-166 in favor of an amendment prohibiting such devices on the refuge system. But pro-trapping and fur-interest lobby groups pressured the Senate to kill the amendment by a 64-32 vote.

A national Decision Research public opinion poll showed that 79% of Americans believe trapping on National Wildlife Refuges should be prohibited, while 88% believe wildlife and habitat preservation should be the highest priority of the refuge system. Trappers, who compromise less than one tenth of 1% of the population, already have access to millions of acres of public and private lands outside the refuge system for their activities.

Project Coyote

Photo Credit: Fur-Bearer Defenders’
Photo Credit: Fur-Bearer Defenders’

I think it is obvious that these cruel antiquated trapping practices should be put out of their misery, especially within sanctuaries that have been specifically set aside for wildlife preservation.  And that is exactly what a newly introduced piece of legislation is set to do.  H.R. 3710 (Refuge from Cruel Trapping Act) is designed to end the use of body-gripping traps in OUR National Wildlife Refuge System.  When 79% of Americans believe trapping should be prohibited on refuges we need to make sure our majority opinion is not only heard but understood by our Representatives.

For more information on the “Refuge from Cruel Trapping Act” please visit Project Coyote.

Scott Artis
Scott serves as Director of Development & Communications for Audubon Canyon Ranch (focusing on preservation, education and conservation science) and has almost fifteen years of experience spanning for-profit and nonprofit sectors in biotech, wildlife conservation and management, communications, and philanthropy. In addition to a strong track record in organizational growth and leadership, he is the founder of Urban Bird Foundation and Burrowing Owl Conservation Network, and presided over ECHO Fund, a coastal protection and restoration organization, as President for four years. Scott holds an M.A. in Environmental Studies with a concentration in Sustainable Development and Policy, degrees in Micro & Molecular Biology and Environmental Sciences, and has complemented his studies with a Master's certificate in Environmental Resource Management.


  1. How exactly due you intend to control the popualtion of fur bearing animals, rabies carrying animals such as Coyotes and Raccoons who’s numbers are increasing in the Northeast to the point of being dangerous. They DO kill livestock (Coyotes), and peole have been attacked on numerous occasions. The same people crying foul about trapping are some of the biggest hypocrites. You talk of the “cruelty” of trapping while tying the leather Nike sneakers you purchased that were made from the hides of domesticated animals that lived and were killed in a much less humane manner than that of the Red Fox caught by a responsible trapper. Did I mention those sneakers were more than likely made through the use of forced child labor in some 3rd world sweatshop. You people need to get off your high horses and realize that animals were put on this earth for man’s use and before stones start getting thrown in your glass house, you should take inventory of yourself and your lifestyle and have a reality check.
    I have to go now because I have 3 beautiful Grey Fox that I need to skin to get ready for auction. I sure hope whomever get’s the end product appreciates the effort it took to catch them (dang their smart).

  2. Chris,

    1) If animals were put on earth for man’s use, then why are there so many animal species that live out their entire existence without ever coming in contact with humans or impacting human lives? Face it — animals exist for themselves. Humans just found a way to use them.

    2) The traps that are the most cruel have undergone little change in the many decades they’ve been in use. What is wrong with finding a more humane way to harvest animals. Steel traps are the lazy way to trap — just put it out and catch anything that comes in contact with it. Then let the animal die in agony, while trappers wait days to go out and see what they caught. This immense cruelty is why the steel-jaw trap is being banned in US states and European countries.

    If trapping is to continue, it must be modernized, or more groups will find a way to regulate trapping out of existence.

  3. Scott,
    I knew that hunting was permitted on at least some of our National Wildlife Refuges, which I immediately found contradictory. I assumed that “hunting” meant shooting with a gun or using a bow and arrow. It never occurred to me that trapping is another way of hunting or “harvesting” animals. My first reaction was to think, “they still trap animals?” I guess I thought that whatever real-fur products are available probably came from farm-raised animals.

    I feel much the same as you in that I am deeply troubled about wildlife suffering at the hands of humans. I find that I want to save every animal, everywhere! I am a big supporter of the natural predator-prey relationship as a manner of achieving wildlife population balance, though I am worried that human interference may have caused irreversible damage already.

    I just found your blog today, and have thoroughly enjoyed exploring your posts. I’ll be back. 🙂
    .-= Amber Coakley´s last blog ..Dawn Dishwashing Liquid Triples Donation to IBRRC =-.

  4. Dear Chris,

    Thank you for visiting and I thought I might be able to offer a bit of advice for any future debates in which you do so find yourself engaged. Making wild accusations in an attempt to classify your opponent as a hypocrite or utilizing smugness (i.e. 3 beautiful foxes to skin) to wrap up your opinion only makes your rebuttal less effective and essentially destroys your argument, which in this particular instance is an incredibly weak case for torturing wildlife.

    I take it from your ad hominem argument that you have exhausted any and all logic pertaining to this subject and are resorting to slander instead. As an FYI for those interested in Debating 101, according to The Prometheus Institute, “When your opponent uses ad hominem arguments against you…it is a signal that your arguments are so convincing that your adversary must launch personal assaults due to his inability to rebut your message.”

    In regards to the actual topic at hand, Lisa is exactly right regarding the use of steel jaw leghold traps. It is an invention of the 1820s that has remained relatively unchanged and is due for extinction. Needless suffering in steel jaw leghold traps is avoidable, especially since more humane alternatives exist and can/should be explored, and safer and kinder non-invasive methods of preventing attacks have been developed.

  5. Scott. I see no problem with trapping as a regulated pursuit of an outdoor activity by some folks. Where is it said that people like you alone can enjoy the outdoors? Some folks enjoy the outdoors by trapping muskrats or beaver. With proper regulations, trapping and other uses compliment each other. Hunting, for example, is allowed on parts of many refuges. Ducks Unlimited, by the way, is an organization that supports the refuge with much needed funding for habitat. I guess I see muskrats as a renewable resource, much like deer or ducks, that can be utilized by commone folks who live in the area. Again, regulation is the key. No one should be trapping where dogs or people abound. Many refuges have very few people visiting them. Some are very popular, for sure, although in my area I see very few people visiting our local refuge except the occational duck or deer hunter.

  6. a. Again, regulation is the key. No one should be trapping where dogs or people abound. Many refuges have very few people visiting them. Some are very popular, for sure, although in my area I see very few people visiting our local refuge except the occational duck or deer hunter.

  7. Well I think one must take strong actions against those who tend to destroy wild creatures. As an animal lover I would love people to gather and fight against those who are killing these creatures for their own good.

    • I completely agree Carl. I noticed you are affiliated with Burrs Wildlife Control Services and given your comment I was curious if your company utilizes some innovative/alternative methods that are wildlife friendly to prevent and reduce negative human-wildlife conflicts?


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