Source: Reveal News by Tom Knudson February 8, 2016
Warning: This article contains graphic photos of animals injured in traps.
The traps are set near hiking trails, on public land, even in wildlife refuges.
Their purpose: to capture bobcats and other wild animals whose pelts are exported to China, Russia, Canada and other countries.
Steel-jaw traps, though, don’t simply catch animals, as a recent Reveal investigation showed. They often hurt them, sometimes severely. They also injure and kill scores of species by mistake, from mountain lions to bald eagles and family pets.
As the carnage grows, trap reform efforts are stirring in Congress, which has not held hearings on trapping in more than 30 years, and more than a half-dozen states.
“These bone-crushing devices are inherently indiscriminate and inhumane,” Collin Wolff, a New Mexico veterinarian, wrote in a letter to Congress last month. “There have been an exasperatingly large number of reports of trap-related injuries to non-target animals, including cats, dogs, and humans.”
He added: “All too commonly these injuries occur on public lands.”
Defenders say that traps are no more cruel than nature and that opposition to them is limited.
“That’s a small portion of the people,” said Larry Gogert, a trapper in Nevada. “It’s big-city people or Hollywood people. It’s not the rural people. Almost all of them say trapping is fine.”
Here’s a rundown of the current proposals and ideas that could reduce the suffering:
Ban trapping on wildlife refuges
More than 80 nations have banned steel-jaw traps. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., is the author of a bill that would bar them on national wildlife refuges.
“Traps are not just cruel, but they are absolutely indiscriminate,” Booker said last month at a hearing of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.
No database tracks the collateral damage on refuges. But records obtained by Reveal show many animals have been caught by mistake, including bald eagles, river otters, raccoons, ducks, geese, dogs, cats, rabbits, turtles, squirrels and opossums.
Committee Chairman Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., has drafted an amendment that would require reporting of wildlife killed by mistake on refuges. Booker called that “a step in the right direction.”
“Dear God, I hope we can continue to work together to address what I think is a level of cruelty that is unbecoming of the greatness of our nation,” Booker said.
Prohibit traps on public land
Seven states have banned or restricted traps. Now, some are trying to eliminate them from public lands out West, too.
“Public lands belong to everyone,” said Mary Katherine Ray, a volunteer for Trap Free New Mexico, which supports such a ban. “These are the public’s wildlife, and they are selling them on the global market.”
Trappers say the land belongs to them, too, and the bobcats and other species they target are not at risk. That’s true. But trapping also can deplete or even wipe out bobcats in some places and runs the risk of capturing rare and endangered species by mistake. [click here to read full story]