Researchers want killing snares added to the AIHTS

Killing snares can cause injuries similar to those of leg-hold traps and fail to meet standards for other killing traps, and therefore should be part of an international agreement on trapping, two researchers are saying.

Dr. Gilbert Proulx and Dwight Rodtka recently published their argument in the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, titled Steel-Jawed Leghold Traps and Killing Neck Snares: Similar Injuries Command Change to Agreement on International Humane Trapping Standards.

The AIHTS was created when European nations wanted to prohibit the importation of fur from countries where leg-hold traps, considered inhumane, were used. The Agreement, signed by the European Union, Canada, and Russia in 1997, attempts to create frameworks that traps can be tested against in order to meet an international definition of “humane.”

The Fur-Bearers on the AIHTS

Killing traps, such as the Conibear, should, under the agreement, render the target animal irrevocably unconscious within 300 seconds. In their paper, Proulx and Rodtka outline their justification for forcing killing snares to be a part of the AIHTS.

“Previous scientific investigations have shown that neither manual nor power-killing neck snares can consistently render canids unconscious rapidly,” the pair wrote. “Animals caught in killing neck snares suffer injuries that are similar to or worse than those reported for leg-captured canids. The authors strongly recommend that AIHTS be modified to include killing neck snares and that such devices be subject to the criteria applied to other trapping devices.”

Neck snares have proven unreliable in past studies, with fewer than 50% of targeted canids losing consciousness within 300 seconds, the paper notes. Given that the snare often does not hit the specific part of the neck necessary to stop blood flow to the brain, they then perform like a restraining device.

“Because canids are not always captured by the neck, they also suffer severe injuries observed in animals captured in steel-jawed leghold traps,” Proulx and Rodtka wrote. “Abdominal captures may even lead to disembowelment. While edema is considered a minor injury in leg-captured canids, it is major in neck-captured animals who do not die quickly and is referred to as ‘jelly head’. Edema is so severe in these animals that it causes extreme swelling of the neck and head, including the eyes, which may freeze shut in winter. This is common on traplines where trappers only check the snares weekly. In some provinces, there are no mandated checking times for snares. Consequently, snared animals can die slowly from their injuries but also from exposure, exhaustion, dehydration, or starvation. Finally, neck-captured canids will break their teeth and cut their gums while chewing on snare wires. Those who escape with a tightened snare eventually die from infection and starvation.”

The case against snares is growing, and it is time that Canadians know the truth: they are inhumane, ineffective, and outright cruel to any animal unfortunate enough to be caught by them.

Please note that citations were removed from quoted material for readability. All citations are available in the published paper (

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