A bill aiming to keep a popular trap used by hunters away from children has been referred to the Children’s Committee, but opponents say its supporters have misled people about the dangers of the traps.
Members of the Coalition of Connecticut Sportsmen and the Connecticut Trappers Association says the bill would create a virtual ban on trapping.
The bill would prohibit trappers from setting this variety of trap within 1,500 feet of a school, licensed daycare center, parks, playgrounds, public roads and highways.
It also requires trappers, who according to Sec. 26-72 of the Connecticut General Statutes are required to check their traps at least once every 24 hours, to report to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection if any pets, endangered species or other “non-target” animal is caught.
Rep. Diana Urban, D – North Stonington, said she was inspired to push for the bill when Ansonia Animal Control Officer Jean Roslonowski, told her about a call she responded to last August involving a group of children who found a kitten caught in a leg-hold trap. The cat was later euthanized.
“It was a traumatic experience for everyone concerned, but certainly for the children,” Urban said. “Both the Animal Control Officer and the attending veterinarian commented on the possibility that the cat that was trapped could easily have been a child.”
Robert Crook, director of the Coalition of Connecticut Sportsmen, said that he has been testifying against bills that aim to restrict where traps can be set since the late 70s, but that this is the first time proponents of the bill have cited child safety as their main concern.
“This is the first time we’ve ever seen children used to try to forward their cause of banning the traps,” Crook said.
Crook said that Urban and Roslonowski had exaggerated the number of instances when pets or endangered species have been severely injured or killed by the leg-hold traps.
Tom Logan, who operates Wild Things, LLC, a nuisance wildlife removal company and is a member of the Wildlife Control Operators Association, said it is far more likely that a child playing in the woods could be bitten by a rabid animal than caught in an legally-set trap.
Many trappers now use padded traps, which Logan compared to R#8220;a set of handcuffs,” to trap fur-bearing animals.
Tracy Coppola, of Born Free USA, a wildlife conservation advocacy group, said that the organization regularly receives reports about family cats and dogs who were severely injured or killed by the traps.
Born Free USA has cataloged 347 incidents of “non target” animals or humans who were caught in a trap. The database includes incidents that have occurred across the country since 1973.
In 144 cases, the trapped animal died from its wounds or was euthanized.
The database includes four reports involving humans, of those, only one person was severely injured.
“By far there are many more that go unreported,” Coppola said.
Roslonowski, recounted stories about responding to calls from pet owners who found their pets caught in a leg-hold trap.
Once, Roslonowski was called to remove a Raccoon who had been caught by two traps, one on each leg.
“It was an area near a daycare,” Roslonowski said. “ We canvassed the area but we were unable to find who put out the traps.”
Davis Martin, Coalition of Connecticut Sportsmen member, said the trap in this scenario was illegally set by a poacher.
According to Sec. 26-72 of the Connecticut State Statutes, The Commissioner of the Department of Energy and Environment has the authority to “designate the places where traps may be placed and set and the conditions under which the placing and setting of traps will be legal.”
The statute also requires trappers to have their name “legibly stamped thereon or attached thereto” any set trap.
Asked if any Connecticut children have been caught in leg-hold traps, Urban said “No, thank God.”