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Born Free USA's Expertise: A Resource for Legislators


Regardless of the design, body-gripping traps are inherently cruel and indiscriminate. Depending on the type of trap (steel-jaw leghold, snare, or Conibear), these devices are designed to tightly grip an animal's leg or other body part or to crush an animal's neck or spine. Animals caught in traps experience broken bones, joint dislocations, lacerations, and gangrene, among other severe injuries. Trapped animals suffer from thirst and starvation or may even be trapped for several days before being discovered. In addition to "target" animals, traps will also catch any animal unlucky enough to stumble upon them. Non-target animals that have been killed by traps include family dogs and cats, bald eagles, and other protected species.

The most widely used trap, the steel-jaw leghold trap, has been banned in 90 countries and 8 states and has been declared inhumane by the American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Animal Hospital Association, and the World Veterinary Organization.

We have worked on legislation and initiatives restricting certain body-gripping traps in California, Maryland, and Washington, as well as several cities in the United States. We also work on bills to ensure that the current trapping laws are not weakened. In 2005, we played a key role in successfully obtaining a veto of Illinois legislation to allow the use of snares on land. We have summarized the state laws that restrict body-gripping devices and can provide model language for use in your state.

Additional Issues

We also have expertise in a variety of other issues that may be of concern in your state. We would be happy to assist you with legislation in any of the following areas:

  • Regulating roadside zoos and menageries
  • Other animal-related issues

Please contact our Legal and Government Affairs Department by emailing legislation@bornfreeusa.org.