Tag Archives: Tom Knudson

7 proposals that could save animals from cruel traps

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.


A bald eagle, America’s national bird, is caught in a steel-jaw trap along a hiking trail near Juneau, Alaska, in December 2014. It later was euthanized. Credit: Katt Turley
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.”


Mary Katherine Ray came across this coyote caught in a steel-jaw trap while hiking in New Mexico. When she returned with a warden the next day to rescue it, the coyote had wrung off its foot to escape. Credit: Mary Katherine Ray
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]

America’s trapping boom relies on cruel and grisly tools

The following is an investigative piece by Tom Knudson that exposes the gruesome realities of  trapping wildlife and the industry that supports it all. 

Source: Reveal from the Center for Investigating Reporting by Tom Knudson January 14, 2016 
Day after day, the mountain lion struggled to free itself. But the steel-jaw trap held its grip.
Desperate, the big cat bit the trap so hard that it broke a tooth. It tugged and wrenched and twisted. Finally, exhausted and dehydrated, the 7-foot-long male died in the mountains of Nevada in 2013, its left leg still pinned in the trap.
Across the United States, the resurgence of a frontier tradition – commercial fur trapping – is taking a hidden, often grisly toll on wildlife. The activity is legal. It is regulated by state agencies. And for the most part, it doesn’t pose a threat to species’ survival.
But it is carried out in ways that often inflict prolonged suffering and capture many species – including mountain lions – by mistake. And much of it is happening on public land, including national forests, even wildlife refuges.
Fur trapping might seem like a page from the past, a reminder of the days of Daniel Boone and coonskin caps. And in most of the world, it is. Among the few nations where it occurs, none is more important than the United States. Every year, 150,000 trappers here capture and kill up to 7 million wild animals, more than any nation on earth.
In all, more than 20 species are targeted for their fur, from foxes to raccoons, coyotes to river otters. But it is the spotted, marble-white fur of one animal that has sparked a Wild West-like trapping boom in recent years.
That species is the bobcat, a stealthy, stub-tailed cousin of the Canadian lynx that inhabits 47 of the 50 states, yet is rarely seen. As a commodity, bobcats are traded by their pelts, which are skinned off the animals after they are trapped and killed in the field.

For trappers, the value of a pelt has soared, from under $100 in 2000 to more than $1,400 for top-quality items. Just as the Gold Rush drew a flood of greenhorns into the mountains in the mid-19th century, so too has the prospect of striking it rich in fur drawn novice trappers into the countryside today. Although average prices dropped below $400 last year, bobcat pelts remain one of the most valuable wildlife products in America.
Most of those pelts, though, don’t stay in America, where fur has fallen out of fashion because of concerns about cruelty and pressure from animal advocacy groups.

What’s fueling the market now are buyers in China, Russia, Europe and other parts of the world where fur is a symbol of wealth and power, where luxury garments made from the pelts of 30 to 40 animals sell for $50,000 to $150,000. The number of bobcat pelts exported from the U.S. has quadrupled in recent years, climbing to more than 65,000 in 2013, according to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.
I wanted to know more about that trade, to connect the dots from the wide-open spaces out West where bobcats are caught and killed to the high-end fur stores overseas where eye-popping bobcat attire is sold. What I discovered was a world of stunning scenery and searing pain, a landscape where bobcats and other animals are captured with a device so hazardous that it is outlawed in more than 80 nations, from Austria to Zimbabwe: the steel-jaw trap.
Traps work by slamming shut on the paw or leg of an animal and holding it until a trapper arrives. Often, they are instruments of torture. Bones can be broken. Tendons are torn. Flesh is frayed. Some animals break free by chewing or twisting off a paw or limb. {Click HERE to read the full story}

Trapper Larry Gogert, shown holding fox and coyote pelts, says trapping is less cruel than the natural world. “If you didn’t catch them, they’ll suffer. Something else will kill them,” he said. Credit: Max Whittaker for Reveal
The home page for the Michael’s Furs/Montana Fur Traders website features a woman swaddled in pelts. Credit: Michaelsfurs.com