Animal Welfare Institute praising Lesniak legislation

A national animal welfare group is rallying around legislation sponsored by a local senator, who is aiming to prevent state level bureaucrats from escaping a ban on certain animal traps.

State Sen. Ray Lesniak

State Sen. Ray Lesniak

The New Jersey legislature banned the possession, use, manufacture, sale, importation, or transport of all steel-jaw leghold traps in 1984 out of concern for animal welfare. Now the New Jersey Fish and Game Council (FGC) and New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) are seeking to circumvent this ban.

They have voted to legalize three specific leghold traps—the Egg trap, Duff (or Duffer’s), and Lil Grizz Get’rz—by calling them “enclosed foothold traps.”

Rather than try to change the law in the legislature, the state agencies are attempting to simply pass their own regulation to get around it.

All three of these proposed traps, used to catch raccoons and opossums, work the same way as the banned steel-jaw leghold–type traps; these simply have plastic or metal surrounding the jaws of the trap. The raccoons and opossums reach into them and are caught when they activate the triggers.

The animals are then held by their front feet (which, in raccoons, are hypersensitive). The powerful clamping force is strong enough to inflict trauma and pain and restrict blood flow.

In fact, in field studies, the only one of these traps that has been studied (the Egg trap) had an unacceptable injury score, as several raccoons caught in the traps had swelling, fractures, subluxations, and partially amputated limbs.

Despite efforts by the FGC and DFW to circumvent existing law by calling these traps something else, they are clearly leghold traps banned by New Jersey law. Approval of these traps by the FGC and DFW, therefore, would be a violation of that law.

State Senator Raymond Lesniak has introduced Senate Concurrent Resolution (SCR) No. 175 to prevent these traps from becoming legal.

Cathy Liss, president of the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), is asking residents to join in supporting Lesniak’s resolution and helping to get it passed in the New Jersey legislature through a letter writing campaign to local lawmakers.

In addition, through engagement with policymakers, scientists, industry, and the public, AWI seeks to:

  • Abolish factory farms, support high-welfare family farms, and achieve humane slaughter for animals raised for food;
  • Improve the housing and handling of animals in research, and encourage the development and implementation of alternatives to experimentation on live animals;
  • End the use of steel-jaw leghold traps and reform other brutal methods of capturing and killing wildlife;
  • Preserve species threatened with extinction, and protect wildlife from harmful exploitation and destruction of critical habitat;
  • Protect companion animals from cruelty and violence, including appalling conditions in commercial trade; and
  • Prevent injury and death of animals caused by harsh transport conditions.

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