One man’s pet is another’s collateral damage, according to Born Free U.S.A, which announced on Wednesday a possible record high of non-target animal deaths as fur-trapping season draws to a close. While millions of fur-bearing animals are killed each year in archaic body-crushing traps for recreational and commercial purposes, the wildlife conservation group notes that hundreds of thousands more, including domestic cats, dogs, and some endangered species, also fall victim to the snares. In the past two months alone, Born Free has fielded more than a dozen incidents of non-targeted animals who were trapped, maimed, or killed from crushed limbs and broken bones. Hundreds of cases are likely to go unreported, the organization adds.
“For every target animal trapped at least two non-target animals are brutally captured,” says Adam Roberts, executive vice president. of Born Free. “Family cats and dogs, as well as endangered species, are often severely injured or killed as a result of traps set for wild animals by trappers who plan to capture them and strip their fur.” Because traps are often laid in areas where families hike with their pets and children play, they pose not only a threat to wildlife but are also a “frightening public safety risk that must stop,” he adds.
Because traps are often laid in areas where families hike, they pose a public safety risk, as well.
Recent cases in Born Free’s database include a dog named Cooper in Versailles, IN, who was caught and killed in a Conibear trap intended for raccoons while being walked through a state park. A cat named Hops, who was caught in a leg-hold trap for roughly 12 hours near Creedmore, NC, had to have her hind leg amputated. Another Conibear trap, set for bobcats in Grand Rapids, MN, crushed the legs of an endangered great horned owl so badly that rehabilitation wasn’t an option and it had to be euthanized.
Although the trapping industry and state fish and wildlife departments insist that the practice is humane and regulated, an undercover Born Free investigation in March revealed a cruel and brutal disregard for animal life, including the prolonged drowning of a raccoon by a trapper with a stick, the chest-crushing suffocation of foxes, the capture and killing of non-target animals, and the use of illegal traps.
An undercover Born Free investigation in March revealed a cruel and brutal disregard for animal life.
“Methods used to kill trapped animals would violate anti-cruelty laws in most states if inflicted intentionally upon domestic cats or dogs,” says wildlife biologist Monica Engebretson, senior program associate for Born Free. “Born Free USA’s investigation—and our other work to stop this cruel industry—demonstrate that despite years of research, there are no significant advances in reducing collateral damage—the non-targeted animals captured in traps set for other species.”
Prohibiting trapping, particularly on public lands, she adds, is not only humane for animals but also protects people from the emotional and financial strain of coping with the injury of loss of their pets to a trap. “The vast majority of states do not require trappers to report non-target animals who are trapped or killed,” Roberts says. “We become aware of incidents when they covered by the media or when a distraught family comes to us asking for help after they saw their animal crushed.”