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For Immediate Release: 02/08/12

As Trapping Season Comes to a Close, Born Free USA Reports Possible Record High in Non-Targeted Animals Being Crushed

Millions of fur-bearing animals are barbarically killed each year in body-crushing traps set for recreational and commercial purposes, fueling a highly unregulated industry that dates back to the 1600s. Born Free USA, a nationally recognized leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation, estimates that in addition to those animals, there are hundreds of thousands of non-targeted animals who are the unintended victims of these traps.

According to Adam Roberts, executive vice president of Born Free USA, “For every target animal trapped at least two non-target animals are brutally captured. Family cats and dogs, as well as endangered species, are often severely injured or killed as a result of traps set for wild animals by trappers who plan to capture them and strip their fur. Over the past three months, we have seen a record high in reports from the public about cats, dogs and other species getting caught. These traps are set in common areas where people are hiking with their pets, and children are playing. This is not only a tragedy for the animals, but a frightening public safety risk that must stop.”

Over the past two months, there have been more than a dozen reported incidents of non-targeted animals who were trapped, and either killed or suffered from crushed limbs and broken bones. There are likely hundreds of more cases that simply go unreported.

Roberts explains, “The vast majority of states do not require trappers to report non-target animals who are trapped or killed. We become aware of incidents when they covered by the media or when a distraught family comes to us asking for help after they saw their animal crushed. There are no regulations in place for mandatory reporting and this is one of the many problems contributing to this mess.”

Among the recent reports posted on Born Free USA’s database of non-target incidents:

  • Two women took their dogs for a walk off Bogus Basin in Boise, ID, when Mickey, one of the dogs, was caught in a foot-hold trap. The women could not get the trap off the dog's foot and had to carry him to a road to flag down a car for help.
  • A great horned owl — a protected species — was caught in a Conibear trap set for bobcats in Grand Rapids, MN. Both legs were caught in the trap and crushed. The owl was taken to a vet, but because the owl, who was otherwise healthy, could not be rehabilitated, it was euthanized.
  • A dog named Copper in Versailles, IN, was caught and killed in a Conibear trap intended for raccoons while being walked through a state park.
  • A dog named Billy Boy was being walked near a creek in Montgomery County, KY, and was caught and killed in seconds by a Conibear trap. Another dog being walked through a public park in Paris, KY, was killed by a trap set by the same trapper, who revealed he had more than 70 traps set throughout the area but would not divulge the locations.
  • A cat named Hops was caught in a leghold trap for approx 12 hours near in Creedmore, NC, had to have her hind leg amputated.

The trapping industry and state fish and wildlife departments maintain that this is a humane and regulated industry. Born Free USA released a groundbreaking undercover investigation last March that revealed 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.

This is the first known undercover investigation of trapping in the United States.

“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. “Born Free USA’s investigation — and our other work to stop this cruel industry — demonstrate that despite years of research, there are no significant advances in reducing collateral damage — the non-targeted animals captured in traps set for other species. Prohibiting trapping, especially on public lands, is not only humane for animals, but it will also protect people from enduring the emotional and financial strain of dealing with the loss or injury of their companion animals to a trap.”

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.

Born Free USA is a nationally recognized leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation. Through litigation, legislation and public education, Born Free USA leads vital campaigns against animals in entertainment, exotic “pets,” trapping and fur, and the destructive international wildlife trade. Born Free USA brings to the United States 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 Travers, now chief executive officer of both organizations. Born Free’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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