Activists Disappointed by Oregon Trap-Checking Limit

In 2001, the Oregon legislature passed a law that, among other things, required that traps set for “nuisance animals” be checked “on a regular basis.” It was left to the state Fish and Wildlife Commission to determine what qualified as “a regular basis,” and it issued a decision on that in February that pleased farmers and trappers but disappointed animal rights activists.

State law already requires traps set for fur-bearing animals be checked every 48 hours. On a 4-2 vote, the Fish and Wildlife Commission ruled that traps for nuisance animals must be checked every 76 hours. In addition, if a trapping is done for “damage control” the traps only need to be checked every 7 days, and conibear traps need to be checked only ever 30 days.

In Defense of Animals’ Connie Durkee told The Oregonian that the Fish and Wildlife Commission was putting the interests of trappers ahead of the animals,

The message that the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife sends is that convenience for the trapper outweighs being humane. No wild animal should have to suffer needlessly.

Wayne Pacelle of the Humane Society for the United States said the trap-check limits were inhumane and would likely spur his and other groups to bring a ballot initiative to address “inhumane traps.” Pacelle told the Bend Bugle,

The Commission has abrogated its responsibility to provide the most elemental humane standards for trapping. Animals caught in inhumane traps will languish not for hours, but for days. The Commission has all but incited humane and wildlife protection organizations to renew their effort to pass a comprehensive ballot initiative to halt the use of inhumane traps in Oregon.

HSUS Oregon program coordinator Kelly Peterson noted that many states require traps to be checked every 24 hours and argued that Oregon should have brought its trap-check limit in line with other states. Peterson told the Bend Bugle,

Given that more than 30 states mandate 24-hour or daily trap check requirement, it is most disappointing that the state will allow animals to linger in traps for three to thirty days. The suffering the animals will endure is immense.

The 76-hour limit was favored by a majority of a citizen’s committee that looked at this issue in 2003. It was favored in order to accommodate federal Wildlife Service so that such individuals could set traps on Friday and not have to check them again until the following Monday.


Oregon panel sets 76-hour trap-checking limit. Mark Larabee, The Oregonian, February 7, 2004.

Humane Society dismayed by trap check rules. Bend.Com, February 6, 2004.

Trapping decision angers animal-rights activists. Mark Freeman, Mail Tribune (Jackson County, Oregon), February 7, 2004.

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