I dropped by Gander Mountain, an outdoor sporting goods chain with a local store here in Fredericksburg, today with my son because he wanted to get some hearing protection. While there, I passed by a display of various steel jawed leghold traps, and I stopped dead in my tracks. I actually thought those inhumane devices had been banned like 25 years ago. Sadly, that's not the case.
I'm not sure exactly where they're still legal for use in the US, but one hit I turned up on Google dated in 2006 said that they were banned in only eight states, so 42 states still allow them. I stopped searching after a few minutes because I kept turning up anti-leghold trap sites with some pretty heartbreaking pictures.
I don't think I have to go into a lot of detail about why these are inhumane. Everyone's heard stories about animals that have chewed off a limb to free themselves from such a trap, or of trappers not checking their traps often (or forgetting about them altogether) and animals dying in agony of starvation, dehydration, hypothermia or easy predation.
These traps are indescriminate. Children and household pets have been known to trip them, and there are just far more humane methods of trapping animals without resorting to this horribly cruel method. There's absolutely no reason to permit the use of these traps.
I love animals, but I'm not a bleeding heart about it. I'm fine with hunting when the game is used for food, and I might even be OK with trapping an animal for pelts if it's done humanely. I just haven't given it that much thought. But leghold traps? Anybody with a soul would have to agree that they're not humane.
I'm not one for crusades, but I won't be shopping at Gander Mountain any more.