The ability of American trappers to take animals on federal land is in jeopardy. A bill introduced into the House of Representatives last week would make it illegal for several kinds of traps to be used on millions of public acres.
House Resolution 1438, the Refuge from Cruel Trapping Act, was introduced March 8 by Nita Lowey, representative of New York’s 17th congressional district. The resolution’s aim is “to end the use of body-gripping traps in the National Wildlife Refuge System.” Included in that description would be foot-hold and snare traps, making trapping a thing of the past on more than 150 million acres across the country.
“We must restore the true meaning of ‘refuge’ to the National Wildlife Refuge System,” Lowey wrote on her congressional website. “This critical legislation will ban indiscriminate body-gripping traps on public land, which not only endanger wild animals but also the millions of visitors who enjoy our nation’s 566 refuges each year.
“These violent devices are simply not worth the devastation of even one accident. It is past time we ensure the entire National Wildlife Refuge System remains safe for animals and families alike.”
Lowey’s statement included a quote from anti-trapping organization Born Free USA’s CEO Adam M. Roberts: “The mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System is clear: to be an inviolate sanctuary for our native wildlife.”
In fact, the refuge system was developed by Theodore Roosevelt, a member of the Boone & Crockett Club and avid hunter. The system’s importance to sportsmen and women was reiterated in 1997 when Congress passed the National Wildlife Refuge Improvement Act, which emphasized that hunting and trapping were priority uses for the refuges.
“It’s clear from her statements that Representative Lowey does not have a firm handle on the purpose of these lands, or how the funds used to manage them for the benefit of all species are derived,” said Evan Heusinkveld, president and CEO of the Sportsmen’s Alliance. “It’s not surprising that such a distorted view would lead to legislation like this. And it’s no surprise that Representative Lowey is rated a ‘Humane Champion’ by the Humane Society of America’s Legislative Fund.”
Lowey has long been seen as an enemy of hunting and shooting. She called for a congressional ban on “assault” weapons after the deadly Orlando nightclub shooting in 2016, spoke out against a rider to the 2016 Interior and Environment Appropriations bill that would have ended federal protections for gray wolves, and championed restrictions on online-ammo purchases following the Oak Creek and Aurora shootings in 2012.
H.R. 1438 has been referred to the House Committee on Natural Resources. From there, it would need to be pass the full House of Representatives, the Senate, and finally the President before becoming law. While the measure is unlikely to clear all the hurdles, be sure to contact your representative and urge them to vote against this measure.