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The Evil Fur Trade

Read "The Evil Fur Trade" and then answer the questions that follow it.

Ten million animals are trapped for their fur each year. The United States, Canada, and Russia produce most of the world’s wild fur. Every time an animal is trapped for its fur, approximately two "non-target" animals are also caught. These non-target animals include squirrels, opossums, dogs, cats and even endangered species and birds of prey that are attracted to the food around the snares or inside the cages.

The steel jaw leg-hold trap is the most common kind of trap used by fur trappers, followed by the wire snare and the Conibear body-gripping trap which crushes the animal.

Eighty-eight countries and five US states have banned the leg-hold trap because it is so cruel and because it simply traps any animal that steps into it. However, the US Congress has not yet banned this device, despite surveys showing that 74% of Americans oppose it.

Animals are left in these traps for between one and three days, and sometimes longer. The animals often die from starvation, hypothermia, dehydration or an attack by another animal. Otherwise, the trapper shoots them, stomps them or clubs them.

Many animals chew off their own limbs in a desperate attempt at escape. This is especially common in racoons. A 1980 study found that as many as one out of every four racoons caught in a leghold trap would chew its foot off to escape. Some companies manufacture padded leghold traps to make them seem less cruel. Animals caught in padded traps are still exposed to the weather and predators until the trapper returns to kill them. Research has shown that padded traps cause injury to 97% of the coyotes that they ensnare. Many animals knock out their teeth as they bite at the jaws of the traps.

There are 150,000 trappers in the United States. Wisconsin, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan are the main trapping states.

Source: CAFT (text adapted by F. Meehan)



1. a) How many animals are trapped for their fur every year?

b) Approximately how many other animals are trapped at the same time?
(You need to do some Maths!)

2. Name three countries where fur trapping is done.

3. What is a "non-target" animal?

4. How do "non-target" animals get trapped?

5. Is the leg-hold trap banned in the USA? (Read carefully!)

6. True or False?

Animals caught in leg-hold traps

  • are sometimes left there for two days.
  • often die from hunger.
  • often die because they have no water to drink.
  • usually bleed to death.
  • are sometimes killed by predators.
  • 7. How do trappers kill the animals they trap? (Your answer should have three parts.)

    8. How do some animals escape from leg-hold traps?

    9. List three reasons why padded leg-hold traps are also cruel.

    Frankie Meehan