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For Immediate Release: 03/09/11

Undercover Investigation Reveals Barbaric Animal Trapping Practices

Born Free USA Announces Horrific Details of Investigation, Including Unprecedented Video and Photographs Showing Brutality and Illegal Practices by Trappers in U.S.

Born Free USA, a leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation, announced today the results of a groundbreaking undercover investigation inside the world of recreational and professional wildlife trapping (www.bornfreeusa.org/victimsofvanity). This is the first known undercover investigation of trapping in the United States.

The investigation, which took place in and around wooded areas and farms in Pennsylvania, reveals shocking cruelty and brutality, including the prolonged drowning of a raccoon by a trapper with a stick, the chest-crushing suffocating of foxes, the capture and killing of non-target animals such as a domestic cat, and the use of illegal snare traps.

(Editor’s note: Video b-roll, interview sound bites and photos are available at www.bornfreeusa.org/c3_trapping_investigation.php)

“Born Free USA launched this investigation to shed light on a horrific, highly unregulated, inhumane and dangerous industry,” says Adam M. Roberts, executive vice president of Born Free USA. “Commercial fur trapping dates back to the early 1600s and has hardly changed. It remains barbaric and many people are not even aware that this is going on in most of the U.S.

“More than 80 countries have banned the leghold trap, which is still legal here. Our aim is to educate the public, policymakers and the fashion industry, and put pressure on state agencies for more regulations. In most states wild animals are allowed to be trapped for commercialized fur use and recreation. People value wildlife and the humane treatment of animals and will be sickened to see them suffering mercilessly in body-crushing traps or strangulation snares, or under the weight of a trapper’s boot.”

The trapping industry and fish and game departments maintain that this is a humane and regulated industry. Born Free USA’s new footage reveals the inhumane treatment of wild furbearers by American trappers and the lack of regulation of the industry.

“Methods used to kill trapped animals would violate anti-cruelty laws in most states if inflicted intentionally upon domestic cats or dogs,” says wildlife biologist Monica Engebretson, senior program associate for Born Free USA. “This investigation demonstrates that despite years of research, there are no significant advances in reducing collateral damage — the non-target animals captured in traps set for other species.”

Most states do not require trappers to report non-target animals who are trapped or killed. Born Free USA estimates that one in three victims trapped are non-target animals — often family cats and dogs. The organization receives numerous calls from families who have seen their pet suffer in the jaws of a trap in their neighborhood. The organization has an online database of non-target incidents at www.bornfreeusa.org/database.

The investigation also reveals conversations among trappers caught on camera discussing illegal trapping methods and selling their pelts, including talk of the link from catch to commercial fur auctions. Video was shot in “fur sheds” where animals are fleshed; and of fur auctions where trappers sell their “goods.”

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

Highlights of undercover video footage and photographs:

  • Legal and illegal snares being used to trap animals.
  • A live racoon in a leghold water trap, and the brutal beating/drowning by a trapper.
  • Two live red foxes in illegal cable snares, then brutally killed.
  • A dead mink in leghold water trap — out of trapping season.
  • Non-target animals caught in traps: live fox squirrel, dead domestic cat, dead rabbit.
  • Live bobcats caught in leghold traps, then strangled to death.
  • A live coyote caught in a leghold trap.
  • Inside a trapper’s fur shed, including skinning a fox, hanging pelts and traps.
  • A fur auction in Pennsylvania.

Born Free USA undertook this investigation in partnership with the organization Respect for Animals.

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 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 chief executive officer 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, publicrelations@bornfreeusa.org, 203/270-8929

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