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jca's avatar

Why are steel leg-hold traps still allowed as a way for hunters to catch animals?

Asked by jca (35989points) March 12th, 2011

I just watched a video that an organization posted to my Facebook. It was sickening. It was about steel leg-hold traps that hunters use. It showed foxes, raccoons, and other animals caught in traps. Then this hunter would show up, the animal would be frantic, in pain, jumping around in a panic, with leg stuck, and the hunter would calmly take something that choked the animal. In other scenes the hunter would step on the windpipe or body of the fox to kill it. It was really sickening. I can’t imagine an animal being stuck in the cold, in terrible pain, for days until the hunter returned. It seemed like when the animal saw the hunter arrive, it knew that it was doomed, because the animal would become frantic.

The fur would not be usable since there was blood all over it and sometimes the animal chews off their foot to get out of the trap.

Why is this type of barbaric hunting still legal?

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38 Answers

john65pennington's avatar

I see no difference in a steel trap capture as compared to shooting a deer with a rifle.

Don’t get me wrong, I love all animals and I am not a hunter.

I believe the idea behind all hunting of animals is harvesting them to keep them in check.

jca's avatar

John – I am against all hunting too. However, shooting a deer with a rifle is quick. Hunting with steel traps that pierce the leg with metal jaws and break the animal’s bones, and hold the animal in pain for days waiting for someone to come put it out of it’s misery, then the panic that the animal experiences when the man comes to kill it, – i don’t see how it compares.

john65pennington's avatar

Ica, you have a valid point. the shot is quick and no suffering, the trap is a long wait and much prolonged suffering.

Thanks for correcting me.

tedd's avatar

Making no statement on the ethics of hunting at all….. a wild animal has a much better chance of surviving by avoiding a steel leg trap, than it does surviving modern weaponry armed weekend warriors.

jca's avatar

@tedd: I am against weekend warriors too, let me make that clear. My question was why are steel traps legal when they are so cruel? I will find the video and provide info on how you can view it and you can see for yourself.

jca's avatar

The website is called Born Free USA and if you go to the left side you’ll see “Fur trade and trapping” and then right in the middle of that page is the video, which, trust me is very graphic and will be hard to forget after you view it. It’s really sickening.

Nullo's avatar

Probably because death is the end result of any kind of successful hunting, so it doesn’t really matter. And some animals, like bears, can’t really be trapped any other way. And you could make the argument that more of the animal is usable that way; the meat immediately around a gunshot wound tends to be inedible. I watched the video. It wasn’t that bad. If your livelihood depended on it, you’d lose your squeamishness rather quickly.
More generally, traps are force-multipliers; they allow a hunter to effectively be in two or more places at once. This is particularly important when you’re trying to get a number of the critters.

@tedd We’ve been hunting with firearms for nearly the better part of a millennium. Modern technology doesn’t really change much because the critter usually bolts once you’ve hit it (if you get it through the head, it dies on the spot); you might have another round ready to go, but not many people will be able to use it. Most rifles only hold some 5–10 rounds, and most of those are bolt-action. Some are single-shot rifles. And old-fashioned muzzle-loaders get their own season.

MilkyWay's avatar

OMG! Where on earth is this still allowed? They should get animal rights over there!
It’s heartbreaking to think that some humans can be so INHUMANE….

Nullo's avatar

@queenie Missouri, for starters.

tedd's avatar

@jca You don’t need to show me a video, my comment was in fact specifically avoiding the topic of it being ethical or not. I’m simply pointing out that if I’m a wild animal, I like my odds with avoiding the trap a lot better than I do avoiding a high powered rifle.

jca's avatar

@tedd: given the choice, shoot me and i’ll not suffer. given the choices, I’d rather not spend days with my leg clamped by iron teeth, so i could not go anywhere, cold, in the snow, suffering, can’t sleep due to the pain, and then have a hunter come near me (as an animal, against my instincts to be near a man) and crush me or choke me so i suffer further.

tedd's avatar

@jca Still avoiding the ethicacy… I’ve known one trapper in my life, he checked his traps nightly, and carried a pistol to kill the animals with a single round to the head.

All in all, I still favor my odds avoiding a trap than a rifle, because I’m a lot more likely to live.

Ladymia69's avatar

Let’s get one thing straight here. Poaching, hunting, and the like are usually done by people who could give a shit about the suffering of animals, and the illegality of such things. Someone who is trying to attain animals for purposes such as selling them for fur or to countries for exotic meat packing purposes are indifferent to whether what they are doing is illegal or immoral. So it would not matter whether it was made illegal or not.

On a side note, I am developing a TV series for HBO whose protagonist hunts and kills poachers and trappers. I have always fantasized about this.

And don’t go all moral on me asking me how I could approve of killing humans when I don’t approve of killing animals…I think it is perfectly normal to want to express your anger when you see a huge injustice to an innocent creature.

crisw's avatar

Why is trapping still allowed in the US?

Primarily, because wild animals in the United States, although treated by law as the property of all citizens of the states, are, in reality, treated by most states as the property of just the hunters and trappers. Their voices are the only ones the state fish and game departments hear. And, while commercial hunting of game animals is not allowed in any state, commercial trapping is.

In addition, trapping is used as “damage control.” Most people aren’t aware that the Federal government subsidizes ranchers who graze their livestock for a pittance on public lands by spending millions of dollars slaughtering predators by the thousands for them, through an outfit called, euphemistically, “Wildlife Services.”

Hobbes's avatar

From Wikipedia:

“Modified traps are now available with offset jaws, or lamination, or both, both of which decrease pressure on the animals legs. Traps are also available with a padded jaw, which has rubber inserts inside the jaws to reduce animal injuries.[14] However these traps are more expensive and not widely employed except by research and conservation experts.[15] A single number 3 foothold trap which has a 6 inch jaw spread and commonly used for trapping beaver and coyote costs about 10 to 15 dollars depending on the make, while a padded jaw or “Soft Catch” trap cost from 12 to 20 dollars.”

Capitalism strikes again.

incendiary_dan's avatar

I honestly don’t know, and I’m a trapper. I never use these sorts of cruel traps. Like you said, with a firearm, or with a killing trap (or bow, atlatl, big stick), you just kill it quick. I can’t see torturing an animal for hours just to get a pelt. Of course, I don’t trap for hides, but for meat, so perhaps I’m just not coming at it from the right angle (that being insane).

Hobbes's avatar

@incendiary_dan

Do you use snares or deadfalls or something else?

incendiary_dan's avatar

@Hobbes Legally, the only thing I can use is conibear body grip traps, which basically snap shut on an animal and break their spine. Since I can’t legally use anything else, I would never admit to use deadfalls or snares. Of course, snares aren’t guaranteed kill, though they tend to.

Although, I’m thinking of buying some cheap rat traps to catch squirrels and maybe some smaller muskrats. I’d buy some havahart live cage traps too, but they’re more expensive. I’ll be saving up for a few this year for woodchuck trapping.

Ladymia69's avatar

@incendiary_dan Have you ever considered becoming a vegetarian and letting the wild ones run free?

Hobbes's avatar

@ladymia69

I think, if you’re gonna eat meat, hunting (and in particular the sort @incendiary_dan describes) is far more humane than factory farming methods. Now that is something to be horrified over.

Nullo's avatar

@ladymia69 Not a good idea – we are an omnivorous species, and we are healthier when our diet reflects that.
Plus, you know, all that stuff about keeping the animal populations within their environment’s capacity to sustain them.

incendiary_dan's avatar

@ladymia69 Yes, I have. I was a vegetarian for 2 and ½ years. It’s an incomplete solution that cuts me off from my landbase and ties me necessarily to an industrial system I’d rather cut my ties to. Plus, monocropping is an environmental disaster that’s destroyed ecosystems for at least 6,000 years, and on which vegetarianism is basically dependant. I’d rather live and eat in a way that reinforces biodiversity and thus benefits plants and animals the most. I’ve made my decisions after a lot of careful considerations.

Edit: P.S. I AM one of the ‘wild ones’.

crisw's avatar

This discussion is getting a bit off-track.The vast, vast majority of the animals trapped in leghold traps in the US are not eaten. No one eats mink or coyotes or fishers.

Nullo's avatar

@crisw Eh. I expect that food hunters, like our @incendiary_dan, would eat ‘em. And I haven’t heard of a market for coyote fur. I’d like to see some figures, too.
I think that @Hobbes nailed it – leg-hold traps are cheaper, and the result is the same.

Ladymia69's avatar

@incendiary_dan How can you be positive that the machine will work as intended 100% of the time, without malfunctioning or missing its mark? have you watched the animal being trapped in your machine?

crisw's avatar

@Nullo

“I’d like to see some figures, too.”

You want figures? You got ‘em.

In 2009. according to the pro-trapping Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, the following non aquatic furbearing animals were trapped by sport trappers in the US in 2009-
Badger 1937
Bassarisk 214
Bobcat 9318
Coyote 90731
Fisher 1259
Fox, Gray 5831
Fox, Kit 220
Fox, Red 14208
Fox, Swift 43
Marten 2256
Opossum 9269
Otter 3955
Raccoon 250089
Skunk, Hooded 2
Skunk, Hog-nosed 54
Skunk, Striped 16183
Skunk, Spotted 223
Weasel 116

Total- 405908

Animal Damage Control, in 2007, killed the following animals in leghold traps-
Badgers- 339
Black bears- 184
Grizzly bears-1
Bobcats- 747
Cats- 52
Coyotes- 6604
Dogs- 65
Arctic foxes- 53
Gray foxes- 736
Kit foxes- 4
Red foxes- 507
Swft foxes-2
Mountain lions- 46
Mink- 24
River otters- 25
Raccoons- 1845
Ringtails- 3
Striped skunks- 309
Gray wolves- 176
Total- 11722
Note that these figures are by no means complete. They do not include animals trapped for damage control by private agencies or persons, for example.

jca's avatar

Yes I should have added that pets get caught in leg hold traps. They are some of the many unintended victims.

incendiary_dan's avatar

@crisw Yea, I dislike fur trapping. I might go so far as to say hate. I’m firmly of the opinion that as soon as you bring the market into subsistence activities, you ruin it.

@ladymia69 I haven’t watched it, but to be honest I’m a pretty inexperienced trapper. Still learning, which makes me hesistant to do it much at all. But nothing works 100% of the time. I can’t guarantee I’ll get a quick killing shot 100% of the time I go hunting, but I’ll still try because the ratio is pretty high and, like I said, I prefer to eat in ways supportive and interactive with my landbase.

@jca Yea, some trappers can be pretty irresponsible where they put traps. Some states, I know, have stringent standards on where certain types of traps can be placed. Personally, I like traps that are species specific. Like I said above, I’m saving up for some live traps, one of which is specific to squirrels (and maybe other ground rodents).

Ladymia69's avatar

You should watch and then make your decision about whether or not it’s a good thing. Anyone who traps should be forced to watch it.

incendiary_dan's avatar

@ladymia69 That’s a pretty good idea. After all, part of my decision to live this way is to have an honest relationship with death and killing. Gotta look at it head on, and all that.

Hobbes's avatar

You do have to skin and prepare the animal, in any case, which is pretty intense by itself, I’d imagine.

jca's avatar

I don’t know how anybody could view that video and say “It’s not that bad.” Huh?

Nullo's avatar

@jca Take the wide range of horrible things out there, Compare it to the video. See? Not so bad, is it?
There was a more generally disturbing shot of an off-screen chainsaw murder in my anime this afternoon.
Here are some jihad photos for comparison. These may not jeopardize your job, but they are unsuitable for most venues.

crisw's avatar

@Nullo

As the old saying goes, two wrongs do not make a right.

Chainsaw anime hurts no real living, feeling beings.

Nullo's avatar

@crisw The attentive reader will note that I was answering @jca‘s query as to how a person could call that video “not that bad.”
I already don’t think that the leghold trap is particularly unethical.

Hobbes's avatar

@Nullo – Any individual example of suffering seems tiny before the ocean of “horrible things out there”. This doesn’t mean the particular example is any less significant. I think the point @crisw is making is that the linked video describes real events and real suffering, which should make it different from a death scene in an anime.

jca's avatar

@nullo: Nott only should the real events and real suffering differentiate the video from an anime, but you can compare anything that is terrible to something even worse and say “that’s not that bad, in comparison.” That does not make it less terrible. You can compare the video to the Holocaust and say “Look, see, this is not that bad compared to the Holocaust” or you can compare it to 9/11 and say “not so bad now, see?” – You will always be able to find something worse. That does not make this video “not so bad.”

jreel1978's avatar

You people are what is wrong with America. You are all calling for the immediate ban of trapping based on a video that you seen on the internet. First of all traps do not “puncture” and “break” the animals legs unless it is the wrong size trap for the animal. This can happen if a smaller animal happens into a trap set for larger game like a raccoon in a coyote trap. Some times it is unavoidable, but a great majority of the time an animal breaks its leg while trying to escape not from the jaws of the trap. It is illegal to use steel jaw traps with teeth in most of the lower 48 states. Second those who say when you shoot a deer or any large game it dies instantly are doing nothing but displaying their ignorance. Even in the event you make a perfect heart shot 99% of the time large game will run off into the woods or an adjacent field. Please do some research and gather facts or at a minimum have some experience in the subject matter beyond a video you seen online before you vent your propaganda.

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