Lowey Re-Introduces Refuge From Cruel Trapping Act

November 15, 2019
Press Release

More than 50% of America’s 566 Refuges Allow Trapping

Bill Would End the Use of Inhumane Traps in the National Wildlife Refuge System

Washington, DC – Today, Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY17/Rockland-Westchester), Chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee, re-introduced the Refuge From Cruel Trapping Act, which would prohibit the use of body-gripping traps in the National Wildlife Refuge System.

“Body-gripping traps should have no place in our National Wildlife Refuges,” said Congresswoman Lowey. “The Refuge From Cruel Trapping Act would ban from public land these violent traps, which endanger wild animals as well as the millions of visitors who enjoy our nation’s 566 refuges each year. It is past time we ensure the entire National Wildlife Refuge System remains safe for animals and families alike. We must restore the true meaning of ‘refuge’ to the National Wildlife Refuge System.”

Each year, thousands of bobcats, otters, foxes, beavers, and other wild animals are trapped in violent body-gripping traps within the National Wildlife Refuges, where they endure hours, or even days, of excruciating pain. These devices are indiscriminate, and endangered species and pets are often brutally wounded by them.

The Refuge From Cruel Trapping Act would prohibit the use of body-gripping traps in the National Wildlife Refuge System. These traps include:

  • Steel-jaw leghold traps: designed to shut immediately after an animal steps in them, often mutilating the limb or paw. These traps have been banned or severely restricted in more than 100 countries and seven states.
  • Conibear traps: designed to slam shut on an animal’s spinal column and kill instantaneously. Studies and undercover investigations have shown that animals that enter these traps at certain speeds or in particular places die slowly and painfully.
  • Strangling neck snares: designed to tighten around an animal’s neck the more it struggles. These traps are notoriously brutal yet widely used because they are cheap and simple to operate.

“Body-gripping traps, such as strangling snares, crushing Conibear traps, and steel-jaw leghold traps, are inhumane and inherently nonselective,” said Cathy Liss, president of the Animal Welfare Institute. “Setting these traps on pristine, protected lands puts a wide range of wildlife, including endangered species, at risk, not to mention people and their dogs who enjoy spending time outdoors. We thank Chairwoman Lowey for her continued support of this important piece of legislation.”

“By their very design, body-gripping traps are cruel, dangerous, and indiscriminate,” said Angela Grimes, CEO of Born Free USA. “Their brutality cannot be overstated. As our two undercover investigations have shown, traps inflict severe stress, pain, and suffering for any animal who steps into them—including endangered species and beloved pets. They simply have no place on our refuges; protected lands set aside specifically to be a safe haven for wildlife. Born Free USA applauds Chairwoman Lowey for her strong leadership to end this cruelty throughout the National Wildlife Refuge System.”

The National Wildlife Refuge System, managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is the nation’s premier habitat conservation network, encompassing more than 150 million acres in 566 refuges and 38 wetland management districts. National wildlife refuges provide habitat for more than 700 species of birds, 220 species of mammals, 250 reptile and amphibian species, and more than 1,000 species of fish. More than 380 threatened or endangered plants or animals are protected on wildlife refuges. Each year, 47 million visitors enjoy the National Wildlife Refuge System.

Congresswoman Lowey has spent her career fighting for the humane treatment of animals. She has been rated a Humane Champion by the Humane Society of America’s Legislative Fund (HSLF), consistently earning over 100% on the HSLF’s legislative report card.

The text of the bill is available here as a pdf.