More than a decade ago, voters in Oregon rejected a ballot measure to restrict the use of steel-jawed leghold traps and other body-crushing traps, largely because the trapping and hunting lobby convinced voters the measure would restrict the use of traps to kill gophers and moles. The actual purpose of the measure was to stop the recreational and commercial use of particularly cruel traps used to catch and kill animals for the fur trade.
Since its narrow evasion of the strong standards proposed in 2000, the state’s trapping lobby hasn’t given an inch. In fact, Oregon lags woefully behind neighboring western states in its trapping regulations. The state’s trappers can wait as long as 30 days before checking their traps. Tragically, caught animals can languish and die slowly from shock, dehydration, or exposure to the elements. These animals could be family pets, hunting dogs, protected wildlife, or mother animals with their young. The traps, and apparently the trappers, don’t care. Especially for a state that has staked out a reputation for its progressive attitudes toward animals, this terrible suffering is a disgrace.
Photo: Predator Defense
Maggie, a pet dog tragically killed by a trap in Oregon.
Now, the state Fish and Wildlife Commission has a new opportunity to take a modest but important step in restoring some balance to this picture. Joined by Predator Defense, the Oregon Chapter of the Sierra Club, Portland Audubon, and Cascadia Wildlands, The HSUS has filed a legal petition with the commission to reform the state’s trapping regulations. The petition would require trappers to check their traps every 24 hours, post signs nearby to warn people, and set traps at least 100 feet from areas used by the public.
Many argue that all use of traps and snares is outdated and unacceptably cruel, and we are mindful of calls across the Beaver State for even stronger rules. This is motivated largely by the unacceptably high rate of family pets being injured or killed in traps and snares. Just in the first two months of 2012, at least half a dozen pet dogs were caught in traps and snares in central Oregon.
Most of these incidents could have been avoided with these new rules. The traps would have been forbidden in areas used by the public, and would have been clearly designated by visible signs.
Other western states have instituted common-sense rules without dire financial consequences to the trappers or the commercial interests who hire them. This should be an easy call. It’s time for the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission to finally take a stand for the people of Oregon, who care deeply about the safety of their pets and who want to see all animals spared from a slow, horrific death in a trap or snare.
P.S. Yesterday, as expected, the NRA had its way with the U.S. House of Representatives. Republican leaders put an NRA dream bill on the House floor, in the immediate aftermath of the group’s national convention, and only two Republicans voted against the measure to allow imports of sport-hunted polar bear trophies; to make it easier to hunt wild animals in national parks; and to block the authority of EPA to restrict the use of toxic lead ammunition. See how your legislator voted on the bill and on an amendment that Rep. Gary Peters sponsored to strip the odious polar bear hunting provision. This bill is a travesty, and we’ve got to stop it in the Senate.
We’ll keep on fighting to protect wildlife from cruel traps and the extreme trophy hunting lobby. You can learn more about our campaigns and how to help.