Special Report – Companion Animals Caught by Trappers
Incidents of Pets Caught by Cruel Traps in 2004
Traps, be it steel-jawed leghold traps, Conibear traps, or snares, are inherently indiscriminate. Each year throughout North America and around the world, traps set for purposes of “harvesting” pelts for the fur trade or for controlling “nuisance” wildlife injure and kill millions of “non-target” animals — domestic dogs and cats, rabbits, deer, songbirds, raptors, livestock, and even endangered or threatened species. Referred to as “trash” animals, non-target species 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. 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.
The following examples of companion animals caught in traps in the past year (2004) were taken from media articles and case reports sent to The HSUS and show the inherent indiscriminateness of traps. Companion animals of all breeds, ages, sizes, and states of health can be caught. Companion animals have been trapped this year along hiking trails, streams, and campgrounds. They were caught on private property and on public lands, including national forests and municipal parks. Some traps that have caught companion animals were set in blatant violation of the law; while other traps were set legally, but still managed to trap somebody’s pet. Sometimes the animals were saved and adopted out to a loving home; other times the animal died or had to be euthanized. However, regardless of the outcome, all of these examples prove that traps are inhumane devices that inflict unnecessary pain and suffering on animals.
[The U.S. and Canadian incidents below, and much more, are reported on Ban Cruel Traps' own list of Non-Target Animals & Humans Trapped by Body-Gripping Traps.]
Wai’alae Nui: A cat named Cuddles was caught and killed by a steel-jaw leghold trap set tied to a tree in her owner’s yard. The owner was not aware that the trap was set on her property.
Source: Honolulu Advertiser, 12/10/04
Dubuque: A female Siberian husky named Bali was caught and killed by a Conibear trap set by a creek in the woods near her owner’s home in a subdivision. By the time the owner removed the trap, Bali had stopped breathing and had died. The trap was set legally on private property and thus the trapper was not charged for any violation. Even though there were many families with small children and pets in the subdivision, there was no notification to residents that traps were set in the neighborhood.
Source: Telegraph Herald, 12/07/04
Maquoketa: In November 2004, a dog caught by a steel-jaw leghold trap was found by the Jackson County sheriff’s department. The dog’s leg was eventually amputated and the dog temporarily adopted by the vice-president of the local animal shelter.
Source: Telegraph Herald, 12/07/04
Chassell: A Bernese swiss hound named Shiela was killed by an illegal snare set to kill coyotes on 11/30/04. The dog had escaped from her pen the day before and was lost in the woods surrounding her owner’s home. Shiela’s owner went searching for her and heard her barking from a distance. When her owner arrived, it was too late and Shiela had suffocated and died. Snares are legal in Michigan, but this snare was set outside coyote trapping season. In addition, snares may only be set on private land and this particular was set on commercial forest land. An award of $1000 was offered for information on the trapper who set the snare.
Source: The Daily Mining Gazette, 12/22/04
Lowell: A 4-year-old Brittany spaniel dog named Ginger was caught by a trap baited with fish guts and attached to a cord tied to a tree that was set illegally on city property. The trap closed around the dog’s throat and soon after the dog stopped breathing and died. The identification on the trap was outdated and the person who set the trap had not been found.
Source: Grand Rapids Press, 12/07/04
Midland: A German Shepherd was caught by a steel-jaw leghold trap set on its owner’s neighbor’s property. The neighbor admitted to the owner that he had found the dog and left the animal in the trap for 36 hours without notifying anybody or giving him food or water. After the owner rescued her dog, he began to develop gangrene from his injuries. After veterinary care and antibiotics, the dog eventually recovered. The incident was reported to local animal control officers, who said it was beyond their control to take action against the neighbor who set the trap.
Source: email correspondence from the dog owner to The HSUS, 08/05/04
Ravenna: An 8-year-old female Chinese sharpie was caught by a snare on 01/20/04 set on the rural property of her owner’s neighbor, a county sheriff’s deputy. The neighbor, upon finding the trapped dog, then shot and disposed of the pet. A warrant was issued charging the neighbor with one count of killing a licensed dog.
Source: The Grand Rapids Press, 02/12/04
Statewide: According to the September 2004 issue of The Trapper and Predator Caller newsletter, there have been several reports of dogs, deer, and wolves being caught and killed by snares throughout Michigan. Many hunters with dogs have brought up their concerns about their dogs being caught by snares and Conibear traps to the trapping community.
Grant County: A 15-month-old male blue heeler was caught by a steel-jaw leghold trap set in Gila National Forest on 04/16/04. The dog and his owner were hiking on a forest trail when the dog darted ahead and out of sight of the owner. When the owner heard screaming from the dog, she discovered him caught in a trap and frantically trying to escape. Eventually she freed the dog from the trap and brought him to a veterinarian. The dog suffered from swelling and bruising, but recovered. There was no identification on the trap, as required by state law.
Source: Trapping Case Report form sent to The HSUS, 08/17/04
Grant County: In January 2004, a 2-year-old female German Shepherd was caught in a steel-jaw leghold trap set in the Burro Mountains while on a walk with her owner. The trap was set about 200 feet from her home. The owner was unable to remove the trap herself, so with the dog dragging the trap along, they headed back to her home. The owner eventually sought help from her neighbor in removing the trap. The dog suffered from swelling and bruising but eventually recovered.
Source: Silver City Daily Press, 07/14/04
New Paltz: A family dog was killed by a beaver trap set by a local property owner to deal with beavers on his land. No signs had been posted on his property to warn people about the traps. After a campaign by local anti-trapping activists, the New Paltz Village Board voted unanimously to approve a new law to restrict the use of lethal traps to deal with nuisance animals.
Source: Daily Freeman, 09/02/04
Spearfish: A 6-year-old dog named Booper was caught and killed by a wire snare set for bobcat while on a walk with his owner in a game production area managed by the South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks Department. Snares and other lethal traps are commonly set in the production area, even though no signs are posted to warn the many non-consumptive users of the land about the dangers posed by the traps.
Source: Rapid City Journal, 02/23/04
Swanton: A 5-year-old male basset hound was caught and killed by a Conibear trap baited with a muskrat carcass while hiking with his owner on Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge. The trap was set legally for muskrats and raccoons. Currently, 311 of the 540 National Wildlife Refuges throughout the United States — nearly 60% — allow hunting and/or trapping.
Source: St. Albans Messenger, 12/18/04
In October 2004, a 6-year-old dog was caught by a Conibear trap set on private property without the landowner’s permission. The dog belonged to the landowner. The trapper was cited for trespassing by the sheriff's department, but was not charged with any violation of trapping regulations by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources since the trap set was set legally.
Source: The Trapper and Predator Caller, December 2004, p. 93
Richmond, Prince Edward Island: A Charlottetown woman’s pet dog was caught by a snare set on a farm while on walk with its owner. The snare, though placed in an area heavily frequented by dogs and their owners, was set legally.
Source: The Journal-Pioneer, 12/31/04
Port Coquitlam, British Columbia: A 4-year-old male Rottweiler was suffocated and killed by a Conibear trap set for beaver. The trap was set by a contractor hired by the City of Port Coquitlam beside a stream about 100 meters from the road. The trap snapped over his throat and his owners watched him struggle for about a minute and then die. There were no signs warning people in the area about the traps.
Source: Vancouver Sun, 12/17/04
Northern Ontario: A 4-year-old female black Labrador named Menodae spent 19 days in the northern Ontario bush after being caught in a neck snare. The snare cut her windpipe and suffered a great amount of agony, but eventually escaped and found her way home. Her owners reported that she was 20 pounds lighter and that her teeth were worn down from gnawing at the retraining snare. The veterinarian estimated that the snare had been around her neck for three days. The snare was set illegally because it had no locking device that would have strangled any animals caught in it quickly.
Source: Toronto Star, 01/22/04
Stroud, Gloucestershire: The corpse of a pet cat was found in a snare set for badgers or rabbits in Penn Woods. The corpse was in a decomposed state and had obviously been in the trap for some time. Snares by law must be check daily. The person who set the trap was unknown.
Source: The Citizen, August 2004
Incidents of Rare and Non-Target Wildlife Caught by Cruel Traps
Long Beach Peninsula: A bald eagle with a missing leg and talon was brought to the Wildlife Rehab Center of the North Coast. The rehabilitators suspected that the injury was caused by a steel-jaw leghold trap. The stress on the one leg was causing the eagle many problems and the rehabilitators decided not to re-release the bird back into the wild.
Source: Wildlife Rehab Center of the North Coast newsletter #10, March 2004
Legonier Valley: A high school junior reported catching a 60-pound black bear cub a trap set for fox. After hearing snarling noises in the woods behind his home, he found the bear in the trap and called the Pennsylvania Game Commission, who came to the scene and tranquilized the bear and released it into the woods. The Commission’s bear biologist told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that two or three bear cubs are caught by traps every year in Pennsylvania.
Source: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 12/19/04
Fridonia: A great horned owl that had been injured in a steel-jaw leghold trap was brought to the Pine View Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Center.
Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 09/04/04
Moliets-Et-Maa, France: According to the AFP, snares set for muskrats often catch the extremely rare European mink.
Source: AFP, 10/27/04
British Columbia, Canada: In April 2004, a wildlife photographer’s dog found the front leg of a lynx in the woods near Bowron Lakes Provincial Park. The foot likely had been chewed off by the lynx in an attempt to escape a steel-jaw leghold trap, which are set in large numbers in the lands surrounding the boundaries of the park.
Source: C.A.S.H. Courier (newsletter of the Committee to Abolish Sport Hunting), Summer 2004
Osoyoos, British Columbia, Canada: A great-horned owl was caught by a steel-jaw leghold trap that was set illegally by a farmer claiming to be attempting to protect his chickens from the owls. The owl was taken to veterinarians who eventually had to euthanize the bird. Though the farmer was under investigation by the B.C. Conservation Service for illegally using the leghold traps, he insisted that he would continue trapping the birds to protect his farm.
Source: CBC News, 04/07/04