WASHINGTON—Animal welfare and conservation non-profit, Born Free USA, working in collaboration with Humane Society International and the Humane Society of the United States, has today released a shocking undercover investigation exposing the cruelty of animal trapping, including for the fur trade, in the United States.

An undercover investigator attended the National Trappers Association Convention in Iowa in July 2021 and a state-sponsored Trappers Education Course, provided in partnership between the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and the Iowa Trappers Association, in November 2021, before going out with three trappers to witness how animals are trapped and killed. The investigation’s findings are harrowing and reveal the inherent cruelty of trapping.

Video and audio evidence captured includes:

  • Trapped raccoons being bludgeoned with a baseball bat, causing protracted death.
  • A trapper standing on the neck of a raccoon after the animal has been beaten with a bat.
  • Animals being thrown in the back of a pickup truck after being bludgeoned but without confirmation of death. One raccoon was later found to still be alive and was hit multiple times again with the bat. The trapper is heard complaining “I don’t know what his [expletive] problem is.”
  • A dead fox in a leghold trap who had struggled so hard to free himself that his leg had snapped clean through. The fox had likely been killed by coyotes as he was unable to defend himself or run away.
  • A photo of a dead cat among the bodies of wild animal trapping victims, demonstrating that traps are also dangerous and deadly to non-targeted animals, including companion animals.
  • A representative from the Department of Natural Resources volunteering information on loopholes in Iowa’s trapping law.
  • A trapper posing for a photograph with the dead body of a beaver who was found hanging in a snare from a tree.
  • Trainers on a state sponsored education course laughing as they talk about illegal practices.

Angela Grimes, CEO of Born Free USA, said: “The evidence captured as part of this investigation is difficult to watch, but it is important. This inexcusable cruelty is meted out to millions of animals each year across the country. The indiscriminate nature of these types of traps, the inevitable suffering that they cause, and the fact that the U.S. is trailing behind other countries that have already taken steps to ban these archaic contraptions, all point to one thing: it is time for a trapping ban.”

Kitty Block, CEO of Humane Society International and President and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, said: "Fur is a dying industry, it’s outmoded and out of step with today’s views on animal welfare and the environment. The horrific treatment of animals seen in this investigation is cruelty and nothing more. These antiquated traps force helpless animals to endure unimaginable pain for hours or even days, only to be brutally beaten to death. It is inconceivable why anyone would want this unnecessary suffering for fashion to continue. Designers, department stores and legislators in the United States and around the world have the power to end this suffering by banning this trade and going fur-free."

This and previous investigations clearly demonstrate that trapping frequently involves extreme animal suffering. The cruelties exposed are in stark contrast to the PR claims of fur industry certification schemes such as Furmark, which promise that North American Wild Fur programs “prioritize the sustainability and welfare of all fur-bearing species.” Our evidence also completely undermines the fur trade’s claims that wild fur trapping is “subject to a comprehensive system of laws, regulations, checks and controls.” 

The organizations are calling on U.S. lawmakers to take steps to enact legislation to ban trapping, beginning with the prohibition of body-gripping, leg-hold, snare and similar traps within the National Wildlife Refuge System via the passage and implementation of the Refuge from Cruel Trapping Act, H.R. 4716. Calls are also being made to prohibit the sale of fur, both in the U.S. and overseas, in countries such as the United Kingdom, which provide markets for trapped fur to be sold. Consumers, retailers and fashion brands also have the power to drive change by stopping buying fur from animals cruelly farmed or trapped.

Grimes concluded: “We believe that the evidence speaks for itself. Lawmakers have it within their power to end this suffering, and we implore them to do so by lending their support to the Refuge from Cruel Trapping Act as an important first step. It is beyond time to consign this outdated practice to the rubbish bin of history.”

Watch the Investigation Footage and Read the Report

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