Leghold and body-gripping traps have been successfully banned in municipalities, states or provinces, and entire nations around the world, but only because someone was compassionate enough and cared enough to start, and finish, the process. In this section we will provide you with a set of tools that will allow you and others who are involved in a campaign with you to ban cruel traps, to succeed.
How to Organize a Successful Anti-Trapping Campaign
"Perseverance = Success"
If we explore the history of social change, we see that there is constant progress forward. Whatever setbacks and reversals occur, in balance and worldwide, society increasingly protects the rights of individuals and the interests of minorities.
It was not so long ago that animals were almost universally considered to be unfeeling automatons, either common or owned property to be used in any way one wished, without a trace of reference to the fact that animals are thinking, feeling individuals with interests similar to those of humans and a similar ability to suffer pain. Too often that is still the case, but it is an antiquated concept challenged everywhere, at all levels.
Social progress is never evenly paced. It happens in spurts and starts, with successes interwoven with failures, but the successes ultimately outnumbering the failures. And no change for the better has ever occurred, for anyone, without someone on "the other side" bemoaning a loss, a burden, or a hindrance in opposition to change for the better.
We have the ability to think logically, and to be compassionate. And we have the ability to influence others. We don't go away. We endure and we have both compassion and logic on our side.
What this section does is provide you with very specific tools that people who care about animals can employ in defense of animals against one very specific, hideous, unconscionable form of abuse, the body-gripping trap.
Types of Anti-Trapping Campaigns
Here are some examples of the kinds of anti-trapping campaigns that have succeeded in the past, and that anyone can undertake, using the tools provided on this website. As with any campaign, it is important to obtain updated information on relevant laws and regulations before becoming too deeply involved. If you live in the U.S., see the "What Do I Need" section for information on how to find the current laws for the area of concern. Visiting the local State or Provincial Wildlife Agency website may also help you to find the laws and regulations for the region of concern.
There are two basic types of anti-trapping campaigns. Both play important roles in reforming trapping, but differ in potential impact and success rate:
1. Targeted Campaigns have a higher success rate because they focus on incremental changes that may appear reasonable to all interested parties. Examples include efforts to
- outlaw leghold traps with serrated teeth;
- require 24-hour trap-check times;
- ban the use of snares on land; or
- restrict trapping in populated areas.
2. Broader Reform Campaigns have a lower success rate because they seek broad changes that may appear more radical. They will incur greater opposition from trapping and hunting interests that wield a tremendous amount of power at the state and federal levels. Examples include campaigns to prohibit:
- all recreational and commercial trapping of wildlife in a state;
- the use of all body-gripping traps;
- the sale of fur products; or
- trapping on public lands.
Anti-Trapping Campaign Ideas:
On a local level:
- Ban all trapping in your city or county
Most citywide trapping bans are enacted to protect people, and companion animals. (See Sample Legislation (Acrobat PDF) for the language of a city trapping ordinance.) For example, advocates were able to convince the Pinole (CA) City Council to ban all body-gripping traps in the city limits after a pest control trapper killed three cats and injured a dog in traps set for other species.
- Ban the sale of all fur products in your city or county
This is a great way to get the "issue" in the media. What if you ran a campaign to ban the sale of fur in a small city or in a city with a warm climate? While it would not make a substantial dent in fur sales, this tactic could have a far-reaching impact in raising public awareness of animal suffering for fashion and sending a strong message to the rest of your state.
On a state level:
- Limit the use of body-gripping traps on public lands
Some states have limited the use of kill-type Conibear traps, leghold taps, and/or neck snares on public lands because of safety concerns and the dangers such traps pose to domestic animals and threatened and endangered species.
- Prohibit springtime trapping
Many states allow "nuisance" wildlife to be killed at any time of year. Remind state commissioners that killing animals in the spring is inhumane and biologically unsound, orphaning young who are unable to fend for themselves.
- Shorten trap-check time requirements
Some states already mandate that traps be checked at least once every 24 hours. Others allow trappers to leave their traps unattended for three days (72 hours) between checks. A few states have no required trap-check time! Trappers in these states may not return for days or weeks at a time, leaving any trapped animal to die a slow, painful death.
- Mandate that trappers must have written permission to trap on private lands
In some states, trappers may freely place traps on private lands, and landowners who wish to keep traps off their own lands must themselves post signs to prohibit hunting or trapping. Changing this regulation will protect not only wildlife but unsuspecting landowners and their companion animals as well.
- Require trappers to post signs where traps are set
- Mandate competency training and tests for trappers
- Require trappers to report the number of non-target animals trapped and killed
- Make it illegal for trappers to sell fur from animals trapped for predator or "nuisance" control purposes
- Restrict or prohibit the use of traps in high-use recreational areas (i.e., campgrounds, hiking and ski trails, roads, residences, or other developed areas)
- Limit the size of traps and the number of traps one trapper can set
If you're not ready to run your own anti-trapping campaign, find and be part of one that's already happening. Even writing letters and attending your state wildlife agency's public hearings go a long way in speaking up for the animals. To find out more about targeting trapping through the administrative rulemaking process, see: