New Bill Would Ban Trapping on National Wildlife Refuges

March 20, 2017 | by National Deer Alliance

United States House Resolution 1438, the Refuge from Cruel Trapping Act, was introduced by New York Congresswoman Nita Lowey on March 8. The bill was referred to the Subcommittee on Federal Lands on March 16. The Act would prohibit the use of body-gripping traps in the National Wildlife Refuge System, which currently encompasses 566 refuges. The following traps would be deemed illegal: steel-jaw leghold traps, conibear traps and strangling neck snares.

“We must restore the true meaning of ‘refuge’ to the National Wildlife Refuge System,” Lowey said in a press release. “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.”

But, Lowey ignores the foundational purposes of the National Wildlife Refuge System. The Refuge System, owned by the public, was specifically designed to include hunting, fishing and trapping. The National Wildlife Refuge Improvement Act, signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1997, explicitly recognizes hunting (which includes trapping) and fishing as priority general public uses of the Refuge System.

The National Deer Alliance (NDA) outlines predator and competitor management as one of the focus areas in our strategic plan. It's not a priority because we don't appreciate predators and the role they play in wildlife management; rather, we understand that careful management of predator populations is for the greater good of all wildlife, and people. Trapping is one of the most effective management tools for predators, including bobcats, wolves, coyotes and foxes, which are major predators of deer fawns.

Additionally, NDA strongly believes in the public's access to their public lands for recreational activities, including hunting and trapping. It's not unfathomable that a ban on trapping on our public Wildlife Refuges could lead to similar bans on trapping and hunting on a broader array of public lands.

H.R. 1438 touches on many areas that NDA prioritizes, including predator management, hunter access and state and federal land management. Voice your support for sound predator management and access to public land hunting and trapping opportunities. Visit the NDA Grassroots Advocacy Center, where you can place your vote of opposition on the bill and directly email your federal lawmakers. With just a few clicks of your mouse, your voice will be heard.