Each year across Canada, countless fur-bearing animals are caught and killed in traps so that their fur can be used for fashion products. Wildlife in Canada are trapped for commercial and recreational purposes under the auspices of provincial regulatory frameworks. Fur-bearing animals are also trapped and killed because they are perceived to be ‘pests’ or ‘nuisances’.

Here is what you need to know about trapping:

Image of a leg-hold trap
A padded leg-hold trap. These traps are legal and used widely across Canada by trappers.

1. Trapping is cruel. Wild animals do not want to be trapped.

Traps are designed to hold or kill a wild animal who does not want to be caught. Many animals die through dehydration, blood loss, and hypothermia while they struggle to free themselves from traps. Animals become so desperate to escape that they resort to chewing or wringing off their own trapped limb, breaking their teeth and bones in the process.

There are 4 main traps used in Canada: leg-holds and cuff-style traps (restraining traps), and Conibears and snares (killing traps). There are significant problems with each type of trap, all of them resulting in significant distress and suffering for the animals caught in them.

View the following page to learn more about the traps used in Canada.

Types of Traps Used in Canada

A western coyote in British Columbia. Photo by southerfaithstudio / Getty Images

2. Trapping regulations are weak, underenforced, and do not prevent animals from being harmed.

Trapping is regulated provincially in Canada. And while each province has its own set of regulations with various similarities and differences, a common feature of them all is that they are extremely weak and difficult to enforce. This is due in large part because the number of enforcement officers tasked with ensuring compliance with the law is woefully inadequate. Laws are made, but they are rarely enforced.

On the international level, along with the European Union and Russia, Canada is a signatory to The Agreement on International Humane Trapping Standards (AIHTS). While the primary objective of the AIHTS is to “establish standards on humane trapping methods”, the agreement has been criticized in the two decades since its signing in 1997, particularly on a fundamental point: these are not “humane” standards at all.

To learn more about trapping regulations in Canada and the AIHTS, click the following link.

Canadian Trapping Regulations and the AIHTS

A cat caught by a leg-hold trap in 2012. He was treated by the Montreal SPCA.

3. Trapping is maiming and killing our cats and dogs.

Traps are indiscriminate, which means that any person or animal (including companion animals and endangered species) get caught in traps. It is an unfortunate reality that people across Canada regularly report that their dogs or cats become injured and killed because of traps. Provincial trapping regulations do not require warning signs to be placed near trap locations to alert people of their presence. As a result, even when traps are legally set in publicly accessible areas, people taking their dogs for walks are unaware of traps set in the area. A beautiful day out with their best friend can quickly turn into one of the most traumatic days of their life.

The Fur-Bearers has conducted research into the phenomenon of dogs and cats being caught in traps in Canada and compiled a partial list of incidents where non-target animals have been caught in traps in Canada. Click the following link to learn more.

Dogs and Cats in Traps

A beaver family shares an affectionate moment in Alberta. Photo by Dan Pepper / Getty Images

4. Trapping is unsustainable and disrupts ecosystems. It is killing endangered species.

Hundreds of thousands of animals are trapped and killed in Canada each year. 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. These animals are trapped and killed because they happen to be one of the 20 species in Canada (out of an estimated 140,000) who have soft, thick fur that has monetary value in the commercial fur trade.

Furbearing animals have a vital role to play in our environment. The overconsumption and mass killing of animals during trapping season not only disrupts animal families, but entire ecosystems and habitats. Because traps are indiscriminate, endangered species are also being caught and killed in traps, compounding the impact to ecosystems and fragile wildlife populations.

To learn more about the impact that trapping has on wildlife populations and the environment, click the following link.

Sustainability and the Environment

A raccoon on a fence. Photo by Ken Duffney / Getty Images

5. Municipalities across Canada are taking action against trapping

Many wild animals and pets are injured and killed by traps in urban environments. While wildlife is commonly understood to be provincial jurisdiction, many municipalities in Canada have shown leadership to protect people, pets, and wildlife against the harms caused by trapping.

Trapping restrictions can be found in several municipal bylaws, ranging from complete bans on the use of traps within city limits to specific trapping restrictions related to the types of traps or where they can be set. Some municipalities have taken steps to adopt non-lethal approaches to urban wildlife instead of trapping. For example, the City of Surrey in B.C. has a temporary prohibition on killing beavers and promotes non-lethal management methods as the default, recognizing the important role that beavers play in the ecosystem.

To view a list of trapping bylaws and see the steps that Canadian municipalities are taking to protect the public from traps, click the link below.

Trapping bylaws in Canada

Help Make A Difference

Join The Fur-Bearers today and help us protect fur-bearing animals in the wild and confinement. To become a monthly donor (for as little as $10/month – the cost of two lattes) please click here and help us save lives today. Your donation is tax-deductible.

About Us

Established in 1953, The Fur-Bearers is a charitable, non-partisan organization whose goals are to end the commercial fur trade and promote solutions for wildlife coexistence in communities. Your donation is tax-deductible. Charitable registration number: 130006125RR0002

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