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Born Free USA Blog

Born Free USA Blog

Wrong on so many levels

Published 05/05/08
By Barbara Schmitz, Senior Program Associate

In shock and dismay, I just finished reading about an Indiana family who witnessed the tragic hanging and death of a raccoon after it was captured by a Conibear kill-type trap.

The trap was placed on the roof of their apartment building to address a raccoon “problem,” and this unfortunate raccoon sprung the trap, was caught and injured, and screamed in pain for 15 minutes before falling off the roof.

It gets worse, however. The trap was anchored to the roof, so the raccoon was hanged and killed right in front of the window of a family residing in the apartment. The animal died a slow, agonizing death while the six children watched. Despite multiple phone calls to the emergency maintenance number for the apartment, the animal’s body hung in front of the window for another 18 hours.

This is just wrong on so many levels. First, why on earth was a Conibear trap placed on that rooftop by the “nuisance” control person who was called to address the situation? Conibear traps are body-crushing traps. They snap shut with enormous force and are designed to crush the spine of the captured animal. However, they can cause immense suffering if triggered improperly. Conibear traps are notoriously indiscriminate and pose a hazard to family dogs and cats, threatened and endangered species, and even children. Born Free USA united with API has a list of animals who have been maimed or killed by these traps.

Despite years of research, there have been no significant advances in reducing non-target captures in Conibear traps. In fact, research has shown that for every target animal captured, as many as two other non-target animals may be caught. And, once triggered, these traps are extremely difficult to release and, as such, pose a public safety hazard. Simply stated, there is no reason to set a trap like this.

So, what can be gleaned from this awful situation? First, there are humane ways to address human/wildlife conflicts. Those methods — which often involve simple changes in human behavior — would not have jeopardized this family of raccoons and caused the horrific death of one of them. If you care about animals, you cannot assume that all wildlife removal specialists will treat the animals humanely.

If you or someone you know experiences a wildlife conflict or “nuisance” situation, try to resolve the problem by removing whatever is attracting the animal in the first place. And urge your family and friends to do a bit of research and hire only humane wildlife removal specialists, if needed. For details, contact info@bornfreeusa.org.

Blogging off,

Barbara

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