Colorado Trap Ban Challenge
To The Editor:
In 1996 voters approved Amendment 14 to the state constitutional
which prohibited the use of leghold traps, instant-kill traps, snares
and poison – cruel and inhumane methods previously used to capture or
kill wildlife. The issue has resurfaced because of a challenge to the
decision made by the Colorado Wildlife Commission to allow using box
traps and padded leghold traps on wildlife before they are killed.
Just as important as the language of a law is the intent of a law.
Gun proponents have long argued that the intent of Second Amendment to
the U.S. Constitution protects the average citizen against the state
infringing upon his right to bear arms, despite the amendment having
been written in such a way that ties this right to “a well regulated
The intent of Amendment 14 was to prohibit cruel trapping techniques
as well as the cruel treatment of wildlife at the hands of fur trappers
and others who would exploit them for personal gain. When box traps are
used in cruel ways or for cruel purposes, their use violates the spirit
of Amendment 14. To learn how you can protect wildlife from cruel and
inhumane practices, please visit
Joe Miele, Vice President
Wildlife Watch, Inc.
From Denverpost.com - Denver & the West
Fur-trapping ban gets new day in court
Backers of the voter-approved amendment say it was undermined when the
state OK'd use of nonlethal traps.
By Steve Lipsher
Denver Post Staff Writer
Wildlife conservationists and the state renewed a decade-old feud
Monday over a constitutional amendment banning fur trapping, debating
whether animals could be caught in nonlethal traps and then killed.
In a downtown Denver courtroom far from the state's wilds, District
Judge Larry Naves heard arguments about the intent of Amendment 14,
which curbed lethal trapping in the state when it was approved by voters
"This is a watershed moment for Amendment 14," said Susan Morath
Horner, the attorney for conservation groups Sinapu and Forest
Guardians. "At issue in this case ... is whether it did or did not sound
the death knell to the trapping of Colorado's wildlife for pelts and
She contended that the state wildlife commission undermined the
amendment's intention when it approved the use of box traps -
self-closing cages baited with food used to to capture and then kill
fur-bearing animals such as mink, coyote and fox.
Tim Monahan, an assistant attorney general, argued that the language
of the controversial amendment - which passed with 52 percent of the
vote - was intentionally ambiguous and that proponents could have sought
to outlaw all trapping but stopped short.
"If such a prohibition had been clearly expressed in words, we
wouldn't be here," Monahan said. "Clearly, they're asking the court to
create additional prohibitions."
The amendment specifically prohibited leg-hold and instant-kill
traps, snares and poison but allowed government agents to trap animals
that posed a health or safety threat to humans and limited trapping of
"nuisance" animals for 30 days each year.
"The purpose of the amendment was to ban inhumane, indiscriminate
trapping," Horner said.
Proponents of the measure gained popular support through gruesome
descriptions of animals - including occasional pets - suffering broken
bones, starving or even gnawing off a foot after being caught in
traditional leg-hold traps.
Horner argued that killing animals caught in box traps violates the
spirit of the amendment.
Just months after the amendment passed, the governor-appointed
wildlife commission allowed box trapping of bobcats, coyotes, foxes,
skunks, raccoons and badgers, as well as the use of padded leg-hold
Monahan said the wildlife commission has encouraged trapping animals
that cause problems. The state requires that they be killed humanely.
Naves asked both sides to submit proposed court rulings by Oct. 19
before making a decision on whether to grant a motion by
conservationists seeking an immediate ban on box traps or to retain the
case for further review.
Staff writer Steve Lipsher can be reached at 970-513-9495 or