WASHINGTON, DC, Sept. 8, 2016 – The Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) welcomes the introduction of a new federal bill—spearheaded by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR)—that would restrict the use of body-gripping traps on public lands administered by the U.S. Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Interior (DOI), as well as prohibit personnel in both departments from setting these brutal traps.

Stated Rep. Blumenauer, who serves as co-chair of the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus, “We’ve seen too many concerning examples of wild animals suffering and pets falling victim to body-gripping traps. It’s disgusting such inhumane traps are so widely used. With many effective non-lethal methods that can be used in place of these cruel traps, the federal government should not and cannot continue to endorse their use.”

The Limiting Inhumane Federal Trapping (LIFT) for Public Safety Act (H.R. 5954) covers three types of body-gripping traps: Conibear traps that are designed to break an animal’s spinal column, strangulation snares that operate by suffocation, and leghold traps that clamp down on animals’ limbs with metal jaws and can lead to fractures, severed ligaments, or even amputation.

Wildlife Services—a program within USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service—kills thousands of animals each year via these traps across the United States. The program operates with little transparency and has repeatedly come under investigation. At the behest of the livestock industry, coyotes and wolves are often killed; other targets include perceived nuisance animals such as beavers or raccoons. All of these animals could be managed using humane and practical options.

The LIFT Act would also ensure that land set aside for recreation and conservation—such as the millions of acres within national wildlife refuges and national forests—can better achieve these purposes. Millions of Americans visit public lands under USDA and DOI jurisdiction each year to enjoy the outdoors. Rep. Blumenauer’s bill promotes public safety by ensuring dangerous traps can no longer be set alongside trails and in other areas where people and pets may accidentally be caught.

“We commend Rep. Blumenauer—a key champion for animal protection in Congress—for shedding light on both the inhumane nature of body-gripping traps, and the many problems associated with Wildlife Services, said Joanna Grossman, federal policy advisor for AWI.

“Commonsense reforms should be implemented before any more animals—be they wildlife or companion animals—fall victim to these merciless traps.”