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Fur, Cruelty and Animal Rights - Trapped in the Wild


Fur protestor with leghold trap

Fur protestor with leghold trap. Photo by Manny Ceneta.

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The Cruelty of Fur Trapping

Approximately 10 million animals are trapped and killed worldwide each year for fur. Animals caught in traps suffer immensely while waiting for the trapper to come and kill them. In the U.S., trappers are licensed by state agencies, just as hunters are. Beavers, raccoons, opossums, muskrats, skunks, and foxes are among the animals targeted by trappers. Many states require the traps to be tagged with the trapper’s identifying information and require trappers to check their traps once a day, but even a short period of time with a limb caught in a leg hold trap is excruciating. Animals will chew off their own limbs to escape the traps. Several U.S. states and many countries have banned the steel-jawed leg hold trap, which is notorious for its cruelty. Trappers now get around this ban by using other types of traps, including snare traps, conibear traps or leg hold traps with a thin layer of padding added. Once the trapper finds the captured animal, if the animal is still alive, the trapper will usually club or stomp the animal to death. Shooting is not as popular because the trapper would risk damaging the pelt.

Unintended Victims

Another problem with any kind of trap is the lack of discrimination. For every intended victim of the traps, there are 2 to 10 unintended victims: birds, porcupines, deer, cats, dogs and other animals are caught, maimed and killed in traps. Even animals listed under the Endangered Species Act are caught and killed. In the industry, these unintended victims are referred to as “trash” animals. There have also been cases where children were caught in these traps.

How to Release a Trap

If you spend time in the woods with your animals, it is important to carry rope and wire cutters, and learn how to release your cat or dog from a conibear trap and from a snare trap. Unlike other types of traps, the conibear trap and the snare trap are designed not only to trap but also to kill. It is also important to learn how to release a leg hold trap.

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