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Facts about Bear Trapping

  • The HSUS

In Maine, the only state to allow trapping black bears for sport, trappers can set cage-style traps or foot snares that hold bears until shot. Trappers capture bears for their heads and pelts; few people eat bear meat.

Typically, trappers place the traps near bait sites where bears have been accustomed to feeding on fatty or sugary foods or rotting carcasses. Bears as well as family pets and other nontarget animals languish in these devices for hours and even days, sometimes suffering broken limbs or other painful injuries and dehydration until they are killed.

Bear trapping is inhumane

  • A restraining trap holds the bear until the trapper comes to kill her. In Maine, a bear can legally be restrained for 36 hours before being shot at point-blank range.
  • If the traps are improperly set and not checked frequently, bears can suffer debilitating injuries such as broken limbs and teeth, cuts to mouth and gums, dislocated shoulders, lacerations, fractures and amputation of digits, paws or whole legs. They can suffer physiological stress and dehydration and are exposed to the elements.
  • Cubs may suffer while their mother is trapped; if she is killed, they will be orphaned.
  • Animals released from restraining traps may later die from injuries and/or reduced ability to hunt or forage for food. In one study, researchers found that small bears who had been caught in traps (or immobilized by drugs) were cannibalized by larger bears.
  • Traps frequently capture nontarget animals. Even wildlife managers in Maine suggest that foot snares will capture small bears, raccoons and other small mammals if improperly set.

The Public Opposes Bear Trapping

Most Americans do not consider trapping “fair chase” hunting—that’s why Maine stands alone.

In addition, in a survey of more than 3,000 wildlife management professionals, most respondents reacted favorably to a trapping ban. They cited pain, stress and harm to nontarget species as the primary reasons, but they were also concerned about trapping’s unsporting nature, conflicts with public values and a lack of need. Two editorial boards in Maine have decried trapping bears as overly cruel.

Learn more about abusive bear hunting practices »