Help us ensure national wildlife refuges live up to their name

Nearly half of our nation’s 561 refuges—lands set aside within the National Wildlife Refuge System to preserve biological diversity—currently allow commercial and recreational trapping.It is estimated that 3-5 million fur-bearing animals are caught and killed by indiscriminate body-gripping traps—steel-jawed legholds, Conibears, and snares— in the United States each year.

As if that fact isn’t disturbing enough—here’s another: the U.S. recreational and commercial fur trapping industry is severely unregulated.

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For any animal caught in a body-gripping trap, death is far from instantaneous. Instead, these animals languish for days and experience immense suffering. Animals captured in traps endure a host of cruelties, including but not limited to fractures, ripped tendons, edema, amputations, and starvation. Some animals will even chew or twist their limbs off in order to escape.

There is wide-spread agreement among veterinarians, biologists, and the general public that traps are both inhumane and indiscriminate. In fact, the steel-jaw leghold trap has been formally declared inhumane by the American Animal Hospital Association and the National Animal Control Association, and is banned by more than 85 countries and eight states. Despite this, the U.S. shamefully still allows its use, even on lands deemed a “refuge” for wildlife.

Nearly half of our nation’s 561 refuges—lands set aside within the National Wildlife Refuge System to preserve biological diversity—currently allow commercial and recreational trapping. Because traps do not discriminate, they also jeopardize many threatened and endangered species. Bald eagles, Canada lynx, gray wolves and other imperiled species, as well as companion animals, are frequent victims of traps set for other animals.

The majority of Americans do not trap, and many believe that body-gripping traps do not belong in our National Wildlife Refuge System. Just last month, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released a study demonstrating that recreational activities that have nothing to do with trapping, like birding, hiking, wildlife viewing and picnicking, account for nearly 75 percent of revenue generated at refuges throughout the country.

There is hope. Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY), a longtime champion of animal welfare, has introduced the Refuge from Cruel Trapping Act (H.R. 3513), a bill that would amend the National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966 to prohibit the use or possession of body-gripping traps on national refuges and to ensure that all refuges are what they should be—safe havens for wildlife.

Join us in supporting this bill by urging your member of Congress to co-sponsor this humane legislation today.


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Azzedine Downes,IFAW President and CEO
President and Chief Executive Officer
Beth Allgood, US Country Director
US Country Director
Cynthia Milburn, Director, Animal Welfare Outreach & Education
Senior Advisor, Policy Development
Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, Regional Director, Russia & CIS
Regional Director, Russia & CIS
Erica Martin, Vice President of Communications
Vice President of Communications
Faye Cuevas, Esq.
Chief of Staff, International Fund for Animal Welfare
Grace Ge Gabriel, Regional Director, Asia
Regional Director, Asia
Jason Bell, Vice President for International Operations
Vice President for International Operations
Jeffrey Flocken, Regional Director, North America
Regional Director, North America
Patrick Ramage, Program Director, Whales
Program Director, Whales
Rikkert Reijnen, Campaigner, IFAW Netherlands
Campaigner, IFAW Netherlands
Sonja Van Tichelen, Regional Director, European Union
Regional Director, European Union
Tania McCrea-Steele, Global Wildlife Cybercrime Project Lead, IFAW UK
Global Wildlife Cybercrime Project Lead, IFAW UK