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Victims of Vanity: U.S. Trapping Investigation

Trapping and Fur Trade: Cruel and Unnecessary

Each year, millions of furbearing animals are killed under the auspices of "nuisance wildlife control" and millions more are killed in the name of fashion.

Indiscriminate body-crushing traps are used to capture or kill furbearing animals who are deemed a "nuisance" or who are valued only for the fur on their backs.

Once an animal is caught she may remain in the trap for several days before starving or dying from exposure. Snares are a wire noose and can cause trapped animals to slowly strangle to death. With leghold traps, an animal my chew off his own paw to escape, only to die days later from the injury.

Whether used as a full-length coat or simple trim, fur represents senseless pain and suffering. Farm-raised fur is no exception. Animals on fur farms live in a state of constant fear and are kept in tiny, filthy cages, deprived of the ability to express natural behavior. Moreover, no U.S. laws regulate how animals on fur farms are to be housed or killed

Born Free USA uses every tool at our disposal — from grassroots and retailer campaigns to legislative advocacy to community and consumer education to courtroom litigation — to protect animals from cruel traps and bring an end to the cruel fur trade.

Myths about trapping abound. Trapping apologists frequently claim that trapping is humane, tightly regulated, selective, and necessary. But the facts show otherwise. Our documentary film and companion book, Cull of the Wild, have received rave reviews from activists, public officials, and media outlets across the country, and opened the eyes of thousands of people to the truth behind trapping.

Both targeted and non-targeted animals (including companion animals and endangered species) fall victim to traps. Born Free USA has documented through a comprehensive review of scientific literature that trapped animals may suffer severe physical injury, psychological trauma, thirst, hypothermia, and predation. They may remain in traps for days or longer before dying or being killed — often by bludgeoning so as not to damage the animal's valuable pelt.

Today, fewer than 150,000 people trap in the U.S., each earning on average less than a few hundred dollars a year. Yet the federal government continues to expand trapping on public lands, even in the National Wildlife Refuge System.

We are determined to counter the myths put forth by proponents of trapping and to show the public the true horrors of this practice. Whether testifying in legislatures, presenting at conferences and community meetings, or using the media to get the word out, we are resolute in our aim to bring about the day when trapping is no more than a relic of a less-enlightened past.

For in-depth information about trapping, including up-to-date trapping statistics, a database of incidents involving the trapping of "non-target" animals, a step-by-step guide to running a successful anti-trapping campaign, and how to get our comprehensive report about trapping on National Wildlife Refuges, visit www.bancrueltraps.com. See how your state rates in terms of trapping regulations on our unprecedented State Trapping Report Card. Learn how Born Free USA is helping to pay for veterinary costs associated with non-target trapping incidents with our Trapping Victims Fund.

Victims of Vanity: Our Undercover Investigation


In early 2011 Born Free USA and Respect for Animals conducted a landmark investigation inside the world of fur trapping. We uncovered for the first time in more than a decade the shocking cruelty and brutality involved in the trapping of wild animals for the fur trade. Through our investigator's notes, photographs and video we showed:

  • Trapping is barbaric.
  • Non-targeted animals die.
  • Laws often are ignored.
  • There's little oversight.

Born Free USA is using this groundbreaking investigation to shed light on a horrific, highly unregulated, inhumane and dangerous industry. Consumers, retailers and policy makers are all equally responsible for ending this barbaric and unnecessary cruelty by refusing to buy or sell fur and by pushing for and passing stronger regulations and prohibitions on the trapping of animals for their fur.

Cruelty Uncaged: Fur Farming in North America

Fur Farm Report

Globally, most fur used in fashion comes from animals raised on fur farms where they are forced to live in cramped confined conditions that fail to accommodate their natural behavior. Death provides their only release and is often precipitated by extreme fear, stress, illness, and pain.

The United States is the fifth largest mink producing country in the world. In terms of animal lives this amounts to approximately 3 million farm-raised mink killed annually for their pelts. Additionally, approximately 660,000 breeding female mink are held on U.S. fur farms. Reliable data on the total number of farmed fox, and farmed bobcat or lynx, raised or pelted in the U.S. are not available.

The fur industry and its apologists want us to believe that fur farming is a humane, environmentally friendly and highly regulated industry. But as Born Free USA's report Cruelty Uncaged: A Review of Fur Farming in North America reveals, nothing could be farther from the truth.

State Trapping Report Card

Our unprecedented State Trapping Report Card gives an academic letter grade to each state based on its animal trapping regulations that have the greatest impact on animal welfare, wildlife conservation and public safety.

Trapping Victims Fund

Born Free USA wants to help not only reduce the negative impact trapping has on species of furbearers, but also to help individual victims of traps. That's why we created the Trapping Victims Fund to help defray the cost of veterinary care for individual animals impacted by cruel traps. Funds are available for specific and immediate emergency veterinary care for companion animals or wildlife impacted by traps and for specific costs associated with rehabilitating and releasing a wildlife trapping victim back into the wild. Learn more about how to apply for the fund. You can also help us help more victims by donating to the Trapping Victims Fund. (Read about the funds' recipients, and check out their photo gallery.)

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