Trapping in Vermont
Trapping and killing beavers is not only inhumane, but it's a short-term solution
POW responds to Mark Scott from VT Fish & Wildlife's and his support of trapping to a POW member
Most Vermonters Want to Ban Trapping and Eliminate the Wasteful Killing of Wildlife
Wildlife consultant Camilla Fox interviews Bill Randall, a former Maine trapper.
Protect Our Wildlife Petitions Fish and Wildlife. Board to Warn Vermonters About Traps Hidden on Public Lands
Here are some facts about trapping in Vermont:
• Traps are not selective.
• Traps inflict prolonged suffering.
• Traps catch dogs and cats.
• Traps catch endangered, protected, and threatened species.
• Traps cause animals to chew through their limbs to free themselves.
• Traps may be set on public land, including National Wildlife Refuges, with no required signage.
• Traps may be set right near trails and trail heads with no required setbacks!
• Traps are baited with food items and lures that attract pets and endangered species.
• Furs are not selling, so many trappers are stockpiling carcasses or just tossing their bodies like garbage, which is clear wanton waste.
• Trappers trap for recreation and hobby.
• There are no standards by which trapped animals must be killed, so they are bludgeoned, stomped on – to crush the heart and lungs, drowned, choked, strangled, and if the animal is lucky, s/he is shot.
• Out of season trapping, "in defense of property", is completely unregulated. Animals may suffer in traps for days before the trapper comes back. No reporting is required.
• Trappers use the term "SSS" meaning, shoot, shovel and shut-up when they trap a dog or cat.
• There is no limit on the number of traps a trapper may set at once, which means areas can be saturated with them.
• There are no bag limits on the number of animals that may be trapped (in season.)
• Trappers are not required to report "incidental takes", including owls, eagles, ravens and other protected species!
We see photos and videos of coyotes, bobcats, foxes and other animals suffering in traps set on land, but there are other animals suffering that often go unseen.
This video captures mink, muskrat, beavers and other wildlife drowning in traps out of public sight. Trappers don't want the public to see this, with good reason.
Traps that are called "quick kill" are misleading. Otters and beavers are often trapped in "kill" traps by the tail or abdomen and drowned which can take up to 15 minutes. Leghold traps are set on land near the water for aquatic mammals like otters. The traps drown the trapped animals as they flee to the water for safety, since the attached cables don't allow the animal to resurface.
Protect Our Wildlife is a member of the The Anti-Trapping Coalition. The Coalition is a newly re-established coalition of animal welfare organizations that work together to create change in ending the trapping industry. The Coalition aims to work with legislation to pass important and significant laws to regulate and ban the trapping and fur industries. The coalition will also utilize our network to find local partners and groups to aide in specific initiatives at the ground level.
Trapping Season Starts October 26, 2019!
Read our press release to learn more, including tips for protecting your pets.
2015-16 (most recent available) season harvest numbers. Animals trapped in season as reported to Fish & Wildlife by trappers. (Animals trapped as a nuisance are not reported.)
Each year, countless "furbearing" animals in Vermont are trapped and killed under the auspices of "nuisance" wildlife control, for their fur or simply for recreation. Trappers also kill predators like bobcats, coyotes, and fisher because they view those animals as competition for prey species they want to kill themselves.
Trapping inflicts prolonged suffering and death to both targeted and non-targeted animals.
Laws are difficult to enforce and are often ignored.
Trapping bans are in effect in a number of states including CO, MA and CA.
Trapping is the most savage form of animal capture. It causes pain, suffering, and death to countless species of animals, including dogs, cats, birds, as well as endangered and protected wildlife. In just two years, 22 Vermont dogs were reported caught in traps, and were either injured or killed. This number may be much higher since this data only represents what was reported.
Vermont protected species like the American marten are routinely killed in traps set legally for fisher or other wildlife. The Canada Lynx is a federally threatened and state endangered species, thereby protected under the Endangered Species Act, yet traps set for other wildlife present an imminent risk to the Lynx.
Eagles and other raptors are caught in leghold traps set for coyotes. Some other non-targeted animals who have been trapped in Vermont include: great blue heron, turkey, screech owl, barred owl, black bear, raven, gray squirrel, snapping turtle, canada goose, and many other species. Because reporting is not required for many of these "incidental takes", Vermonters will never know just how many of these animals are injured or killed each year.
During the official trapping season, regulations require trappers to check their land traps every calendar day, but this is very difficult to monitor and enforce. During this time, trapped animals are subjected to the elements and suffer from blood loss, frostbite, exhaustion, predation, severed tendons, torn ligaments, dislocated joints, broken bones and teeth (from desperately chewing at the trap to escape). Many die trying in vain to escape the steel jaws of the trap. With no other hope of escape, trapped animals may resort to amputating their own limbs. Trappers callously label this grim act of despair “wring-off”.
The suffering doesn't end when the trapper returns to check his/her traps since there are no regulations in Vermont as to how a trapped animal must be killed. Trappers bludgeon, drown, strangle, stomp on (to crush the trapped animal's heart and lungs) and if the animal is "lucky" they're shot in head. If these gruesome acts were inflicted upon a domestic animal, trappers would be in violation of Vermont's animal cruelty statutes, but tragically wildlife aren't afforded these protections.
This raven, a protected species, was caught in a leghold trap at Charles Downer State Forest in Sharon.
This photo displays a paw left in a leghold trap. It was sent to us by a Vermont resident who found the trap in the woods behind her home.
Below: A common method of killing a trapped fox is to stomp on the animal's chest.
These deadly devices are also known as “kill” or “body crushing” traps. Conibears were intended to be an “instant killing” device, and were designed to snap shut on an animal’s spinal column at the base of the skull. However, animals do not always die quickly since it is impossible to control the size and direction of the animal entering the trap. Conibears are frequently used in water to trap muskrat and beaver. Pets such as dogs and cats, as well as endangered species, have been lost to these indiscriminate and barbaric traps. Traps set on edges of ponds, and other bodies of water, are of great risk to dogs who may choose to take a leisurely swim and end up becoming entrapped.
Vermont bobcat caught by the back leg in a Conibear "kill" trap.
Leghold traps are inherently indiscriminate and will trap any unsuspecting animal, including dogs and cats, threatened and endangered species, and even humans.
An archaic and antiquated device, this trap is the most commonly used in the United States by commercial and “recreational” fur trappers. Leghold traps, also known as footholds, are triggered by a pan-tension device, and the weight of an animal stepping between the jaws of the trap causes the jaws to slam shut on the victim’s leg or other body part.
Animals react to the instant pain by frantically pulling against the trap in a desperate attempt to free themselves; in the process they suffer from fractures, ripped tendons, edema, blood loss, amputations, and tooth and mouth damage (from chewing and biting at the trap). While these animals are immobilized, they are subject to predation by other animals, hypothermia, frostbite, and dehydration.
The American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Animal Hospital Association, the World Veterinary Association, and the National Animal Control Association have declared that leghold traps are inhumane.
Bobcat painfully restrained in a leghold trap.
Vermont banned the use of snares in 1923 due to the overharvesting of a number of furbearer species. A repeal on the ban on snaring in Vermont was attempted, but failed in 2014. POW's president, Brenna Galdenzi, provided testimony at the Statehouse in opposition of the repeal of the snare ban, and thankfully, the repeal was killed in committee. We must remain vigilant to keep snares/cable restraints illegal in Vermont.
Snares are categorized as either body/neck or foot snares and are generally made of light wire cable looped through a locking device and are designed to tighten around an animal’s neck or limb.
Snares do not discriminate and will capture any animal by any body part.
Due to the fact that snares are cheap, lightweight and easy to set, trappers often will saturate an area with dozens of snares to catch as many animals as possible.
More information about Snares and Cable Restraints
The Impact of Snares On Animal Welfare read here
Cable restraints are a type of snare and should remain illegal in Vermont. Read more here.
Colony and cage traps are set in or near water and are designed to catch and drown multiple aquatic mammals at once, which can take up to 20 minutes for some species. Drowning is considered an inhumane method of euthanasia by numerous reputable organizations including the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians, yet trappers drown beavers, muskrats and otters in Vermont each year.
The Realities of Trapping in Vermont here
Trappers don't want you to see this.
What if it were your dog?
View trapping videos here.
Please share with your legislators and help us raise awareness.
POW responds to Mark Scott from VT Fish & Wildlife's and his support of trapping to a POW member.
One of our members just shared the email below that you sent in response to her email regarding her opposition to trapping. We understand that VT Fish & Wildlife Department (FWD) has a steadfast allegiance to trapping and to trappers. What you cannot do is try and play both sides by suggesting that FWD is concerned with animal welfare. Not only does FWD support the use of leghold trapping, you are not even advocating for modified traps (offset or padded traps). And you know that even with those modified traps animals still wring off and struggle violently against the trap to free themselves. Animals are known to chew off their limbs, especially if they go numb. Last year we learned of a mother raccoon and her kit who were trapped side by side. The kit chewed through her leg and was found dead in the trap. Also on the topic of "animal welfare", you fail to mention that the FWD supports methods of killing trapped animals that aren't even supported by the conservative AVMA - VT allows trappers to bludgeon, stomp on, drown, strangle, and choke trapped animals - no method is off the table. POW advocated for legislation last session to implement standards for killing trapped animals, but FWD objected. FWD also supports the use of drowning sets where multiple animals are trapped at once and drowned.
The "Best Management Practices" program that you often cite is subject to inherent bias, subjectivity and inaccuracy. The use of trappers - who have a strong interest in the outcome - as testers undermines the veracity and accuracy of the testing. The acceptable time to unconsciousness and death in the BMPs for Conibears (and other "quick" kill traps) is in the five minute range - hardly a quick death. You also fail to mention that BMPs are voluntary.
You also talk about FWD's work reintroducing marten, but fail to mention that marten are caught every year in traps set for fisher and other animals. You talk about changes to traps to protect Canada lynx in the NEK, but fail to mention that lynx can still be caught in legholds in the NEK and in kill traps in other parts of the state. While POW advocated for protections on Nulhegan Basin, on Silvio Conte's National Wildlife Refuge, that is home to lynx, you pushed for the status quo, including allowing the use of hounds to hunt. You think a pack of hounds can differentiate between a bobcat and a lynx? That was another example of FWD's epic failure to protect the most vulnerable species on our national wildlife refuge because you didn't want to upset or inconvenience houndsmen (we've read the emails.)
So long as your Department supports recreational and commercial trapping, you will be challenged with the reality that trapping is abject cruelty to animals. Photos and videos of trapped bobcats, foxes, raccoons, otters, and other animals speak louder than FWD's words. Using terms like BMPs, selectivity, International Organization for Standardization (ISO), mean very little when confronted with the reality of these traps and the suffering they inflict on both targeted and non targeted animals. We know your Department has asked trappers to stop posting photos and videos because it hurts the image of trapping. We wish instead of trying to keep trapping hidden from public view, you'd acknowledge it for what it is: an outdated, inherently cruel past time that 75% of Vermont residents want banned.