Feb 19 2016

Letter To The Editor: Leg Traps Are Feckless, Inhumane

Dear Editor,

The Town of Sullivan’s Island Town Council is authorizing the use of leg traps for catching 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. In some states, measures outlaw leghold 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 “nontarget” animal, such as a dog or cat.

These measures seem prudent, especially considering the number of children visitors we receive every year.

Please contact Sullivan’s Island Town Council and urge them to stop this extreme and fecklessly inhumane activity on our urban island, where visitors and islanders alike will be at risk.

Joe Church

Sullivan’s Island

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