Washington, DC, August 17, 2023 — The Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) endorses the Refuge from Cruel Trapping Act, reintroduced today in the US House of Representatives by Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Congressional Animal Protection Caucus Co-Chair Earl Blumenauer (D-OR). This bill would prohibit the use of archaic body-gripping traps within the National Wildlife Refuge System (NWRS), with limited exceptions. Body-gripping traps include steel-jaw leghold traps, Conibear traps, and snares.
“Body-gripping traps are antiquated devices that capture animals by snapping their body parts with bone-crushing force or slowly and agonizingly strangling their airways,” said Susan Millward, AWI’s executive director and CEO. “Public lands belong to all of us — not just the select few who wish to trap — and Americans should be able to enjoy our outdoor spaces without fear that they or their pets will step into a torture device. Thank you to Representatives Nadler and Blumenauer for your commitment to ending the use of cruel traps in our country’s refuges.”
“When Americans visit their local National Wildlife Refuges, most expect to view wildlife without the fear that they or their pets will fall victim to a dangerous trap,” said Nadler. “However, approximately 43% of our 567 refuges still permit trapping — putting humans, companion animals, and endangered species at risk of severe injury. It’s clear that these traps have no place on protected lands and my legislation with Rep. Blumenauer will ensure all of our refuges are free from this inhumane practice.”
The use of cruel body-gripping traps on NWRS lands is a threat to the safety of wildlife, humans, and pets. The purpose of these protected lands is clear: to be a refuge where native wildlife can thrive and all Americans can enjoy our great outdoors. The NWRS contains one of the most diverse collections of fish and wildlife habitats in the world and provides a home for more than 380 endangered species. Yet nearly half of all refuges allow trapping.
Brutal, indiscriminate traps endanger not only wild animals but also the pets of millions of visitors who spend time in the nation’s refuges each year. These traps have proven to be deadly to companion animals. For instance, in December 2022, a three-year-old Shetland sheepdog died after her neck was caught in a Conibear trap near a wooded trail in Vermont — the state’s 13th incident of a pet being caught in a trap that year.
“America’s National Wildlife Refuge System should be a sanctuary for people and animals alike,” Blumenauer said. “There are too many concerning examples of wild animals and pets falling victim to body-gripping traps. This legislation will create a true refuge for wildlife by prohibiting these cruel traps on public lands.”
To learn more about this issue, please visit https://awionline.org/content/refuge-cruel-trapping-act.
The Animal Welfare Institute (awionline.org) is a nonprofit charitable organization founded in 1951 and dedicated to reducing animal suffering caused by people. AWI engages policymakers, scientists, industry, and the public to achieve better treatment of animals everywhere—in the laboratory, on the farm, in commerce, at home, and in the wild. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for updates and other important animal protection news.