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March 1, 2012

The HSUS and Predator Defense Institute Commend OSU Decision to Deactivate Snares

Animal welfare organizations jointly call for comprehensive trapping reform

Predator Defense Institute

The Humane Society of the United States, Predator Defense and Oregon State University alumni commended the decision by the university to deactivate a number of lethal snares set around its sheep research facility in Corvallis, Ore. The decision comes after several days of intense criticism by citizens and animal welfare groups outraged that the snares had caught several animals, including a coyote, raccoon and deer fawn. The animals all died after languishing potentially for days or weeks in the devices.

The snares were set on the university’s behalf by Wildlife Services, the Division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture responsible for targeting huge numbers of wild animals throughout the U.S. with traps, snares, poisons and other means of lethal control.

Scott Beckstead, senior state director for Oregon for The HSUS, expressed appreciation for the university’s decision to deactivate the snares, but said the OSU case underscores the need for comprehensive trapping reform in Oregon. “Removing those snares was the right thing to do, and we commend Oregon State University for acknowledging the wishes of the public,” said Beckstead. “But, as this situation so tragically shows, snares like those used on OSU’s behalf by Wildlife Services are unacceptably cruel and indiscriminate, and there should be a more balanced approach to solving wildlife conflicts.”

Larry Peetz, DVM, an OSU alumnus, expressed concern about the danger inherent in the use of snares and traps. “Not only did these terrible devices catch animals that posed no danger to the sheep, but Wildlife Services failed to monitor them so that nontarget animals could be released, and any target animals humanely euthanized,” said DR. Peetz. “No animal, be it a coyote, deer, or family pet, deserves to languish in terrible agony for days on end before dying of blood loss, starvation, dehydration or exposure to the elements.”

While the decision to deactivate is commendable the university should do more. The HSUS and PDI hope the university will take the next step and institute a formal policy banning the use of traps and snares on university property, and adopting as a matter of university policy nonlethal control methods, such as fencing, guard animals and other deterrents.

Unlike many other western states, Oregon has lax regulations governing how often trappers must check their traps and snares to remove animals that have been caught. Depending on the type of trap used and the species targeted, they may not have to check the traps at all.  For the type of snare used at the research facility by Wildlife Services, trappers are permitted to wait 30 days before checking them. Animals may struggle in the traps for days or weeks until eventually dying of blood loss, dehydration, starvation or predation. 

The OSU controversy comes on the heels of a large number of recent incidents involving the tragic killing and maiming of family pets around Oregon after they were caught in traps. Many of the traps were set on public lands close to trails and other sites frequented by the recreating public.

“It’s time for comprehensive trapping reform in Oregon,” said Brooks Fahy, executive director of Predator Defense. “Trappers, including those working for federal and state agencies, are posing a deadly threat to our pets and wildlife, and also to public safety. We call on the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission to immediately institute new rules to safeguard the public and protect animals from the unnecessary suffering that comes with these barbaric devices. It is patently unfair for the tiny number of licensed trappers in this state to be allowed to endanger the people of Oregon and the animals we love, both wild and domestic.”

A video showing a raccoon struggling to free itself from one of OSU’s traps can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=khCc-9ixgsE&feature=youtu.be.

The HSUS and Predator Defense, together with other Oregon-based wildlife and environmental groups, are preparing a petition to be filed with the Commission to require trappers to check all traps within 24 hours of setting them. The rule change would exclude trapping for gophers, moles, and household rodents on the property owned by the person setting the traps. The petition also seeks to require that traps be set a minimum distance away from trails and other public facilities, and that trappers post highly visible warning signs in the areas where the traps are set.

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Media Contact: Heather Sullivan, 301.548.7778; hsullivan@humanesociety.org

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