Inhumane, “Leghold” Traps Still Legal
Animal trapping is something born out of the subsistence lifestyles in the pioneer era. It’s an archaic practice that most of us would expect to find in the pages of the, “Little House on the Prairie” series and not in modern day Nevada. Yet Nevada, and the overwhelming majority of states still condone the trapping of furbearing animals. Trapping may be performed in a semi-humane manner through the use of, “quick kill” traps. Quick kill traps use high levels of clamping force, killing the animal very quickly but even these highly effective traps may malfunction and trap an animal improperly. Although they are much more likely to prevent suffering than leg hold traps.
Unfortunately, many states, including Nevada, still allow the use of inhumane leg hold traps. These traps are composed of a set of steel jaws that is spring loaded. These jaws clamp onto an animal’s leg when it steps into it, thereby preventing its escape without damaging the hide. Though the design may be rational enough, the result seems almost designed to cause pain and suffering. Many animals have their legs broken in these traps and are then left for days before the trapper reaches them. Trapped animals may also be preyed on or die of dehydration before the trapper arrives. Some animals are also caught in leg hold traps by their head or neck, leading to suffocation. In Nevada, the law allows trappers to check traps at a maximum interval of four days. This leads many animals to gnaw off their limbs in order to escape. Another problem with such archaic methods of trapping, is that house pets and endangered animals are just as likely to be caught in leg hold traps as a target species. Many of these traps even have a locking mechanism that prevents an owner from opening the trap to rescue their pet.
Thankfully, 89 countries and eight U.S. states have banned the use of leghold traps. In 1978, The U.S. Fish and Wildlife service set out to measure public sentiment concerning leghold traps. They found that 78 percent of the U.S. population opposed the use of steel jawed leghold traps. Moreover, many wildlife and conservation biologists hold the scientific opinion that wildlife management goals may be met without trapping. Ultimately, it is wildlife management goals that are most important to maintain healthy ecosystems. Biologists and government officials promote these goals to develop healthy ecosystems for the benefits to the state State’s economy. These benefits come in the form of income and jobs created by recreation, hunting, logging, farming, and agriculture. However, trapping only accounts for a miniscule portion of a state’s economy. In fact, a 1991 study by the Missouri Department of Conservation, found that the majority of trappers themselves earn little to no income from the practice. This study shows that there is no reason to continue to allow trapping, much less inhume trapping that relies on leghold style traps.
Trapping laws in the State of Nevada will be up for review in 2012. Signing this petition will help lawmakers in Nevada know that public opinion is turning against leghold traps. If enough support is generated, the new law code will ban this inhumane and anachronistic practice.