The Truth about live hold foot traps

This video by the National Trappers Association debunks the myths about the modern live hold foot trap, called a steel jaw leg trap by its critics. They say it’s a cruel, crushing device that maims the animals it doesn’t kill – that it is dangerous and inhumane. In reality, the traps described by critics are no longer used, while the modern foot trap is both humane and a key tool in wildlife management.

Wildlife biologists with federal and state agencies charged with managing our wild lands and wild animals say the live hold foot trap is an important tool they use for a variety of reasons, including the return of animals like the river otter, lynx and wolf long missing from native habitat back to lands where they once thrived.

At the turn of the 20th century, America’s rush to clear land, fill marshes and swamps and streams, coupled with unchecked pollution and unregulated harvests, took their toll on the country’s river otter population. By the 1980s, 11 states had no otters at all, and 13 states had very few. In 1982, Missouri led the way in river otter reintroduction. Since then, in 18 states, over 4,000 river otters captured with the live hold foot trap have found new homes.

Thousands of wolves, lynx, fishers, martens, beaver, bobcat, red and grey fox, possum and raccoons have been studied, treated, relocated and released, healthy and whole, thanks to the live hold foot trap.

The evidence is overwhelming. The animals captured by the live hold foot trap are released with no harm done to them. If this trap were in fact a cruel and crippling device, wildlife managers would have rejected it long ago. It’s not, and they haven’t.

The live hold foot trap has been, and should remain, a valuable wildlife restoration and management tool. Contrary to the myth that this trap maims and mutilates animals, the norm is for the animal to hunker down and wait. Some drop off to sleep.