Hunting Accident File > Safe Trapping?: > January 5,2005


Pets and endangered species aren't the only accidental victims of dangerous traps. Though much less frequent than incidents of non target animals caught by traps, incidents of humans caught by leghold traps, conibear traps, and snares can be very tragic. Particularly when such traps are set in areas frequented by people, the chance that a human, especially a child, could have a dangerous encounter with a trap is very real. When there are plenty of humane and effective solutions to dealing with human/wildlife conflicts, lethal traps are an unnecessary danger to both people and animals, as the following examples prove.

April, 2002: Abbotsford, British Columbia
A 13 year old boy had his ankle caught in a City of Abbotsford beaver trap in a city-owned ravine near his home. The boy was exploring the area around a beaver retention pond to have a look at a beaver dam when he pulled a chain leading away from a tree. A beaver trap snapped on his ankle. Rescued by 3 neighbors who heard him screaming, he escaped with only bruising and pinch marks on his right foot.

1997: Scappoose, OR
A woman's left hand was caught in a conibear trap near her home. With help from neighbors, she was able to slip her hand out of the trap. Described as one of the most frightening, painful experiences she's ever had, the incident left her with nerve damage that caused her severe pain for weeks later.

1994: northern Wisconsin
An eleven-year-old girl, playing along a creek near her family's vacation cottage, caught her thumb in a steel-jaw leghold trap set for muskrats. She suffered from bruising, swelling and emotional distress.

November, 1990: Streetsboro, OH
A woman, while walking her dogs in the city park, stepped in a trap that was set illegally on the pathway. Since she was wearing heavy-duty hiking boots, she sustained no injuries, however it took her husband and a friend to remove the trap.

November, 1988: Allentown, PA
A nine-year-old boy, while playing along a river bank, fell into the river and got his left thumb caught in a muskrat trap.

April, 1987: Miller, SD
A man, while trying to untangle his fishing line, caught his hand in a conibear trap set for beaver. His injury required 19 stitches and later became infected.

1986: San Bernardino, CA
A 16-year-old stepped into a steel-jaw leghold trap while hiking. He suffered from bruising, cuts and swelling.

October, 1986: Calais, ME
A 31-year-old man, while walking his dog in the Moosehorn Wildlife Refuge, stepped into a steel-jaw leghold trap. Because he was wearing heavy boots, he sustained no injuries. The man was arrested for molesting a trap.

November, 1986: Coconino, AZ
A man, while rescuing his dog from a steel-jaw leghold trap, sustained severe cuts and puncture woods to his left hand. The incident occurred in a National Forest.

September, 1985: Minneapolis, MN
A 14-year-old boy stepped in a steel-jaw leghold trap which was hidden on an embankment near some railroad tracks. He suffered major nerve and tissue damage. He lost four toes and was in the hospital for two months after undergoing major surgery.

1979: Mason County, MI
A young boy caught his hand in a steel-jaw leghold trap while fishing with his uncle.

January, 1978: Seattle, WA
A college student stepped in a leghold trap while attempting to free his dog caught in an adjacent trap. Extent of injury unknown.

1977: Camp Springs, MD
A four-year-old girl caught her hand in a #2 steel-jaw leghold trap set near her home. She suffered a crush injury, disruption of the tendons of three fingers and required reconstructive surgery. She has permanent impairment of her fine motor skills in that hand.

1974: South Milwaukee, WI
A young boy stepped into a leghold trap that was set on public property. He suffered only bruising, as he was wearing heavy boots.

December, 1970: Melbourne, FL
A six-year-old boy, playing in a forest park, suffered from bruising, cuts and swelling after getting caught in a steel-jaw leghold trap.

January, 1966: Goshen, NY
A 5-year-old boy stepped into a trap set for woodchuck. He sustained bruising and an abrasion.

1960: Clayton, OH
A man, while out walking in a wooded area, stepped into a steel-jaw leghold trap and sustained bruises and two broken bones. If you have been a victim of a cruel trap, please let us know of your story.

Contact us at [email protected]  

For more information on trapping see:

Andrea Cimino
Campaign Manager, Wildlife and Habitat Section
The Humane Society of the United States
2100 L St. NW
Washington, DC 20037
[email protected]


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