Animal Trapping

Animal Trapping

The Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) opposes the use of any trapping device that causes suffering or cruelty.  These devices, such as leg-hold and body gripping traps, cause intense capture stress, leading to grievous injuries or death. ARL is further opposed to more recent allegedly humane “dog-proof” traps because the traps still cause suffering during capture.  Traps are inherently non-selective and are capable of capturing any species including domestic pets or humans. Traps should only be used as a last resort and should be set and monitored by responsible individuals or trained professions.

ARL encourages and supports measures which promote coexistence with wildlife through methods and techniques that deter wildlife from entering areas where they are unwanted or which alleviate the problems caused by the presence of wildlife.


In 1996, the passage of the Wildlife Protection Act ballot initiative resulted in the prohibition of body-gripping traps and the enactment of Massachusetts General Laws c. 131 §80A.  The law prohibits, in most circumstances, any trap designed to capture and hold a furbearing mammal by gripping the body or body part including steel jaw leg-hold traps, padded leg-hold traps, and snares.  The law was modified in 2000 and currently provides options for alleviating beaver-related flooding and muskrat damage.  If needed, persons can:

  1. Obtain a permit for the Conibear trap from their local board of health (BOH) immediately if there is a threat to health or safety
  2. Obtain a permit for a Conibear trap from MassWildlife if there is not a health or safety threat, but if more humane water control devices or box or cage trapping have been unsuccessful for 15 days
  3. Trap during the 5 ½ month recreational trapping season with box or cage traps.

Despite these measures, it appears that with each legislative session, there are multiple bills filed seeking to remove current restrictions on the body-gripping “Conibear” and leg-hold (sometimes called foot-hold) traps, which are used to capture fur-bearing mammals, such as beavers and coyotes. The arguments used in support of a return to the widespread use of such traps are usually based upon the cost of the trap to the trapper, cost to property owners and municipalities, and claims that the wildlife populations are uncontrolled without such measures.


ARL believes that human-wildlife conflict can, and should be, addressed in more humane ways. Moreover, the ARL notes that many of the pro-trap arguments simply do not consider humane solutions to human-animal conflict and ignore basic facts regarding the animals including selection of colony sites, breeding cycles, and predators.  Oftentimes, the proposals are based upon non-verifiable or inaccurate information.  Finally, the measures do not consider and calculate the risk or damage to the public and to domestic animals.


As a result, the Animal Rescue League of Boston will:

•          Oppose any legislation which promotes the use of any trap which results in suffering or cruelty;

•          Oppose any legislation which seeks to expand or re-introduce the use of banned traps;

•          Oppose any measure to increase hunting based upon use of wildlife population numbers, property damage claims, claimed health risks and increased costs, when such information has not been independently verified;

•          Oppose illegal relocation of trapped wildlife as the relocated animals are at risk of death due to territorial conflict and starvation.  If a trapped animal cannot be released, euthanasia practices should follow the humane methods recommended by the most recent American Veterinary Medical Association Panel on Euthanasia;

•          Encourage and promote a better understanding of the current law so that citizens are fully aware of what steps can lawfully be taken to alleviate human-animal conflict;

•          Encourage and promote a better understanding of humane solutions to human-animal conflict.