Appeal to Ban Leghold Traps and Snares in Corrales, NM

Mr. Harry Staven, Administrator
Village of Corrales
PO Box 707
Corrales, NM 87048
Fax: 505-897-7217

January 25, 2004

Dear Mr. Staven:

Wildlife Watch, Inc. is an animal protection organization that seeks to educate the public about the mismanagement of wildlife by state and federal wildlife agencies, and the destruction of wildlife and ecosystems in the name of sport hunting and game management.

It has come to our attention that the City Council of Corrales is considering a ban on the use of leghold traps and snares within the city limits, due to reports of coyotes suffering from trap-related injuries including mutilated paws and broken bones. As an organization that represents the views of over two-thousand wildlife advocates in New Mexico, we strongly and respectfully urge the Council to pass the proposed ordinance into law.

The most widely used device in the New Mexican trappers’ basket is the steel jaw leghold trap. This trap is deemed inhumane by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), and has been banned in over 88 countries and several U.S. states. Its use has been known to cause broken bones, torn tendons and skin lacerations in the animals unfortunate enough to fall victim to its deadly steel jaws. Victims of these traps are not limited to the species that the trapper is looking to kill. Legally placed traps designed to attract other animals have trapped companion dogs and cats, and endangered and threatened species. Given the indiscriminate nature of trapping, no trapper can prevent such occurrences from happening.

Animals such as raccoons have been known to gnaw off their feet to escape the clutches of these barbaric devices, often breaking off their teeth as they bite at the steel jaws that hold with a vise-like grip. The animals who do manage to gnaw off their feet and escape will often fall victim to infections or predators who take advantage of their crippling injuries. If an animal is unable to free herself from the trap, she is shot, bludgeoned or strangled to death by the trapper upon his return.

Snares are arguably more cruel that the aforementioned leghold traps and a plethora of wildlife experts have voiced their opinions against these devices. Among those experts, Dr. Paul Paquet, Professor at the University of Calgary, is adamantly opposed to using snares to trap black bears. “(I have) captured more than 1000 black bears, so am familiar with trapping. Leaving bears in snares for any length of time is cruel enough. Prolonging the torture knowingly is inhumane.”

Doctor Lynn Rogers, a Wildlife Research Biologist with 35 years experience working in government, academia, and private nonprofit organizations is also against the use of snares. “All snares share the same failing – they restrict the flow of blood back to the heart through surface veins while the deeper arteries continue to pump blood into the foot or head. The result is painful swelling. I quit using snares 30 some years ago. I find it just unbelievable that any state would condone recreational snaring with all that is known about modern wildlife management.”

In addition, Chuck Hulsey, one of Maine’s seven regional wildlife biologists recently wrote to his bureau director: “Killing an animal by strangling it with a wire loop often results in a slow, painful death, sometimes lasting days… It would violate state humane laws to treat a domestic dog in the same manner.”

Lastly, Wally Jakubas, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Agency’s top mammal scientist became concerned when he noticed a large proportion of snared coyote carcasses with grotesquely swollen heads – “jellyheads,” the snarers call them. When the snare doesn’t close sufficiently, it constricts the jugular vein on the outside of the neck, cutting off blood returning to the heart; meanwhile, the carotid artery keeps pumping blood into the brain, eventually rupturing its vascular system. In a memo to his supervisor, Jakubas wrote: “I think it is also safe to say that [this] is an unpleasant death. Anyone who has had a migraine knows what it feels like to have swollen blood vessels in the head. To have blood vessels burst because of pressure must be excruciating.” Almost a third of the animals Jakubas looked at were jellyheads. Almost another third had been clubbed or shot, indicating that, contrary to department claims, the snares hadn’t killed them quickly.

Clearly, cruel and inhumane devices such as leghold traps and snares have no place in modern wildlife management. On behalf of our members and supports, we respectfully urge you to do what is necessary to prohibit the use of these traps as soon as possible.


Joe Miele

CC: Mayor Gary Kanin
Councilor Walter Lucero
Councilor Laurie Rivera
Councilor Melanie Scholer
Councilor Benjamin Schwartz

Sadly, this vote was lost.


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