The Sullivan’s Island Town Council is authorizing the use of leg traps for killing coyotes in undisclosed town property locations. Town properties include beaches, accreted forests and dunes, and marsh lands throughout the island. This presents a serious danger to our pets, children, raptors and other wildlife. Leg trapping proponents argue that leg traps are humane and selective, and that trapping is tightly regulated, and necessary for managing wildlife. These claims, however, are far from the truth.
Leg traps are notoriously indiscriminate, capturing almost any animal that triggers them. Sometimes called “trash” animals by trappers, non-target species that have been found in traps include threatened and endangered species, raptors, domestic dogs and cats, and even humans. These animals can sustain the same injuries as target species. Even if released, they may perish later from internal injuries or reduced ability to hunt or forage for food.
Dick Randall, a former federal trapper, told Congress, “My trapping records show that for each target animal I trapped, about two unwanted individuals were caught. Because of trap injuries, these non-target animals had to be destroyed.”
Sullivan’s Island Town Council needs to concentrate on the potential harm that a leg trap could bring to a child, dog, cat or raptor. Town Council claims it will place leg traps in “remote” locations, but in this urban beach town setting, many argue there are no such “remote” locations. All parts of the island are easily accessible by children, pets and raptors alike and any leg traps on the island are likely to catch a “nontarget” victim.
In some states, measures outlaw leg-hold traps within 1,500 feet of a school, day care center, park, playground, highway, public road, campground or hiking trail. They also would require trappers to notify the state Department of Natural Resources each time a trap snares a “non-target” animal, such as a dog, cat or raptor. These measures seem prudent, especially considering the number of children who visit every year.
Don’t wait until your dog or cat is caught in one of these leg traps.