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For Immediate Release: 11/15/10

The Grades Are In

Born Free USA Grades 50 States on Animal Trapping Regulations Having Greatest Impact on Animal Welfare, Wildlife Conservation, Public Safety

Born Free USA’s unprecedented “State Trapping Report Card” gives an academic letter grade to every U.S. state based on its animal trapping regulations that have the greatest impact on animal welfare, wildlife conservation and public safety.

The highest grade was received by Hawaii with an A-. California was second with a B+, followed by Arizona and Massachusetts both earning a B. At the bottom are Alaska and Texas, both with an F, and six states coming close with a D- (Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, South Dakota and Tennessee).

According to Will Travers, Born Free’s chief executive officer, “Our report card gives the most accurate view to date of how large and unregulated the trapping issue is. In most states wild animals are allowed to be trapped for commercialized fur use, as well as for sport and recreation. Since the majority of people are not trappers, and they value wildlife, most residents would be sickened to see their local wildlife suffering in a body-crushing trap or strangulation snare. This report card aims to help the public understand where their state falls short compared to other states, and encourage them to ask policymakers to step up to improve their report card grade.”

The Born Free USA State Trapping Report Card focuses on several critical points, with positive marks given for: prohibitions on body-crushing traps and snares; requirements for trapper education to ensure trappers understand and are aware of regulations; requirements that trappers report the number of animals they kill; that all traps include trapper identification to aid in enforcement of regulations; that the state records the number of nontarget animals captured or killed in traps; and that the state has a minimal required trap check time of 24 hours to lessen suffering of trapped animals and increase chances that nontarget animals — including dogs and cats — might be rescued. Grades also include positive marks for prohibiting bobcat and otter trapping, two species native to most states but vulnerable to overexploitation.

Monica Engebretson, leading wildlife biologist and Senior Program Associate for Born Free USA, adds: “We were actually generous in our grading system. Many states would receive an even lower grade if we took into account accurate monitoring of wildlife populations.

“While points were given for requiring trappers to report the number of animals they kill each year, most rely on ‘kill data’ from previous years to set trapping seasons in future years. However, that data is meaningless when compared to the numbers of animals left on the landscape. For most species, state agencies do not have well-designed monitoring programs capable of accurately tracking population trends of animals targeted by trappers.”

This issue impacts all animals, not only wildlife. Most states do not require trappers to report nontarget animals who are trapped or killed, and Born Free estimates that one in three victims trapped are nontarget animals — often family pets. The organization receives numerous calls from families who have seen their cat or dog suffer in the jaws of a trap in their own neighborhood. An interactive database launched last month tracks such nontarget victims.

Born Free USA works to expose the awful truth and eliminate cruel traps by encouraging legislators and policymakers to enact stronger laws, ensuring state agencies are enforcing existing protections, and championing humane alternatives of mitigating conflicts with wildlife.

Born Free USA (BFUSA) is a nationally recognized leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation. Through litigation, legislation and public education, BFUSA leads vital campaigns against animals in entertainment, exotic “pets,” trapping and fur, and the destructive international wildlife trade. BFUSA’s Primate Sanctuary in Texas is home to more than 500 primates rescued from laboratories, roadside zoos and private possession. BFUSA brings to America the message of “compassionate conservation,” the vision of the United-Kingdom based Born Free Foundation, established in 1984 by Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna, stars of the iconic film “Born Free,” along with their son Will, now CEO of both organizations. BFUSA’s mission is to end suffering of wild animals in captivity, conserve threatened and endangered species, and encourage compassionate conservation globally.

More at www.bornfreeusa.org; on twitter at http://twitter.com/bornfreeusa; and facebook at http://www.facebook.com/BornFreeUSA.
Media Contact: Rodi Rosensweig, 203/270-8929; rodicompany@earthlink.net

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