People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals held a press conference in Rapid City, South Dakota, in January to protest the use of leg traps in national parks.
PETA chose Rapid City because in the summer of 2004 a number of dogs were injured by leg traps in Badlands National Park. The traps were set to capture coyotes.
Badlands National Park Superintendent William Supernaugh says that his agency regrets that dogs were caught in the traps, but that the traps are necessary to hold down the coyote population.
The Rapid City Journal reported that,
Supernaugh said those injuries mainly were the result of the Park Service’s failure to check traps quickly. He blamed shift change among personnel and an unclear policy on how often those traps should be checked. Those procedures have been tightened, Supernaugh said.
But he said banning all uses of leg traps in the Badlands would cripple the park’s program to monitor the range and health of coyotes. He said that program was crucial to the successful reintroduction of swift foxes and black-footed ferrets to the Badlands.
Coyotes prey on swift foxes, so park personnel introduced them to areas outside known coyote territories, which are determined through radio collars attached to trapped animals.
Canine distemper, Supernaugh said, could wipe out the fragile ferret population.
PETA disagrees, with Stephanie Boyles saying in a press release on the issue,
These traps are so barbaric that they have been banned in 88 countries. It is shameful that in the 21st century, a federal agency would use such primitive, cruel devices. We urge [Interior] Secretary Norton to call for a ban.
Group Calls News Conference to Reveal Shocking Photos of Dogs Caught in Leghold Traps in Badlands National Park. Press Release, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, January 24, 2005.
PETA protests Badlands trapping. Bill Harlan, Rapid City Journal, January 26, 2005.