Below are a few more reasons that The Fur-Bearers oppose trapping.
1. It is cruel. Wild animals don’t want to be trapped.
Traps are designed to hold or kill a wild animal who does not want to be caught. As such, many animals die trying to free themselves, as well as from dehydration, blood loss and hypothermia. Many animals become so desperate, they resort to chewing or wringing off their own trapped limb in order to escape, breaking teeth and bones in the process.
In Canada, regulations for trap checking vary depending on whether or not the trap is a ‘restraining trap’ (leg-hold) or a ‘killing trap’ (Conibear, snare). Generally speaking, trap checking times range from once every 24 hours to once every 14 days. As if this isn’t haunting enough, these regulations are largely unenforceable, which means untold amounts of animal suffering goes undocumented and uninvestigated.
Additionally, traps are indiscriminate and will capture and/or kill ‘non-target’ animals, including endangered species, birds, deer, and even domestic dogs and cats.
2. Trapping disrupts our ecosystems.
Hundreds of thousands of animals are trapped and killed in Canada each year. Some of these animals include: badgers, bears, beavers, bobcats, cougars, coyotes, ermines, fishers, foxes, lynx, martens, mink, muskrats, otters, rabbits, raccoons, seals, skunks, squirrels, wolves and wolverines. Despite industry claims, these animals are not ‘harvested’ because they are surplus, weak or diseased, but rather because they happen to be one of the 20 species in Canada (out of an estimated 140,000) who has soft, thick fur.
It is becoming more widely understood just how vital a role furbearing animals play in our ecosystems. For example, 50% of North America’s threatened or endangered species rely on wetlands for their survival. These wetlands are created and maintained by families of beavers – the very same who are trapped at extraordinarily high rates.
The majority of trapping in Canada occurs on registered trap lines (on federally owned land) with some as big as 500 square miles. In order for trappers to travel to, and patrol their trap lines in the woods, as well as to transport dead animals and trapping equipment, automobiles and/or snowmobiles are routinely used. In fact, many trap lines actually run along makeshift roads so that trappers can drive along from trap to trap.
3. Trapping regulations/enforcement/monitoring is weak.
Trapping regulations are weak and extremely difficult to enforce, particularly because the number of enforcement officers assigned to this responsibility is disturbingly inadequate.
For example, according to 2013 documents provided to us by the province of British Columbia, there are only 87 field officers in the BC Conservation Officer Service. British Columbia’s land area is 944,735 square kilometres (364,800 sq mi). That averages 1 Conservation Officer per 11,000 km2.
As stated in a 2007 survey of environmental law enforcement and compliance in the province of British Columbia by West Coast Environmental Law, “[t]he new policy on deregulation, together with lack of staffing capacity meant that enforcement actions plummeted [in 2007] by more than half”.
This pattern is seen in every province and territory across the country.
4. Trapping kills our dogs and cats.
Traps are indiscriminate, which means that any person or animal (including pets and endangered species), young or old, can and do get caught in traps. The reported numbers are consistently disturbing. For example, the American Veterinary Medical Association reported that ‘non-target animals’ can account for up to 67% of total catch.
There is almost no incentive for trappers to report non-target catches, especially if they are endangered species (which could result in penalization) and there is virtually no way to enforce the laws that make it illegal to catch endangered species. And because traps don’t have the capacity to discriminate, there is no way to prevent non-target catches. For a partial list of reported non-target animals who have been caught in traps, click here.