Millions of wild animals, including bobcats, coyotes, foxes, lynx, raccoons, and wolves, are caught and killed in wild traps each year, mainly in the US, Canada and Russia, although trapping does occur in other countries too on a smaller scale.

Traps are indiscriminate, catching the first animal to step on them. Countless dogs and cats, deer, birds and other animals—including threatened and endangered animals—are also injured and killed each year by the traps. These animals are referred to by trappers as ‘trash’.

Welfare problems

Trapping is an inherently violent practice. Traps that are used, including steel-jaw leghold traps, body-gripping traps, and wire neck snares, are inhumane devices that inflict great pain and suffering. The traps are designed to crush animals in a vice like grip rather than kill them – meaning they can’t fend off predators. Some animals will chew off their trapped limb to escape. Trappers refer to this as ‘ring-off’. Some may die from blood loss or shock but most animals will be trapped for days before the trapper returns to kill them. They are usually beaten or stamped to death to avoid damaging the fur. Both the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the American Animal Hospital Association have declared the steel-jaw leghold trap to be inhumane.

Many animals die trying to free themselves, next to dehydration, blood loss and hypothermia. Often 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. When the trapper finally returns, to avoid damaging the pelt, the animal is bludgeoned, choked, or stomped to death.

Trap checking times range from once every 24 hours to once every 14 days. The regulations on trapping are weak and extremely difficult to enforce, which means untold amounts of animal suffering goes undocumented and uninvestigated.



Respect for Animals Fact Sheet
The Fur-bearer Defenders Fact Sheet

Pets and traps

Traps, be it steel-jawed leghold traps, conibear traps, or snares, are inherently indiscriminate. Each year, traps in the United States injure and kill millions of “nontarget” animals—domestic dogs and cats, rabbits, deer, songbirds, raptors, livestock, and even endangered species. Referred to as “trash” animals, nontarget wildlife often are simply thrown away. Injuries from leghold traps are often so severe that the injured limb of a trapped companion animal must be amputated. Conibear traps, however, kill many of their unintended victims. Andrea Cimino (The Humane Society of the United States) states:

‘Companion animals have been trapped along the edges of railroad tracks, running and hiking trails, streams, airport fences, and campgrounds. They’ve been caught under porches, in backyards, agricultural fields, and the middle of cities. They are caught on private property and on public lands, including national forests and municipal parks.’

Trappers are rarely prosecuted when a pet is caught by a trap. Trapping is a largely unregulated activity, and where restrictions do apply, they are poorly enforced. In most cases, trappers do not leave identification on their traps, so trappers cannot be traced or fined for neglecting their traps.

For a complete list of non-target trapping incidents please view Born Free USA’s updated list.