The AVMA opposes use of conventional steel-jawed leghold traps but recognizes some necessary applications for those of more modern design, according to a policy that the Executive Board revised in mid-April.
The previous policy on trapping stated that the AVMA considered steel-jawed leghold traps to be inhumane. Modern trap designs, however, help reduce the physical injury to animals by padding the steel jaws and offsetting the jaws so the trap doesn't close completely.
The previous and revised AVMA policies recognize that management of wildlife populations may require the capture of animals. The revised policy also notes that animal capture may be necessary for the study of wildlife. Within these contexts, the revised policy advises using the most humane traps and techniques available and emphasizes the importance of avoiding the capture of nontarget animals.
The board approved the revisions on the recommendation of the AVMA Animal Welfare Committee.
The background to the recommendation adds that alternative capture techniques involving human supervision, such as use of tranquilizer darts and nets, may be less efficient than leghold traps. Certain species, such as coyotes, can be difficult to capture with alternative techniques.
The American Association of Wildlife Veterinarians and AVMA Committee on Environmental Issues provided input on the revisions to the trapping policy.
The AVMA policy now states the following:
TRAPPING AND STEEL-JAWED LEGHOLD TRAPS
The AVMA opposes the use of conventional, unmodified steel jawed leghold traps. Legitimate science and management practices that necessitate the capture of wildlife should employ the most humane traps and techniques. Such traps and techniques should reduce injury and stress, minimize pain and suffering to wildlife, and prevent capture of nontarget animals.
Under the previous policy on trapping, the AVMA had supported passage of the Inhumane Trapping Prevention Act. The Legislative Advisory Committee will review the bill again in light of the revised policy.