How "Humane" is "Humane Trapping"?

Based on an article by Donna Dubreuil, Ottawa-Carleton Wildlife Centre, Canada

They are considered the humane alternative to killing so-called "nuisance" wildlife. "Humane" or "live" traps supposedly capture animals without physically harming them. The question that is now being raised is: How humane are these traps when their use results in the deaths of hundreds of animals each year?

Live-traps come in various sizes and can be bought or rented from gardening and hardware stores. The trap is baited with food to lure the animal in. When the ani­mal enters the cage far enough, he inadvertently steps on a platform that trips a door which quickly closes behind the animal.

Many homeowners use these traps to rid their lawns and gardens of squirrels, raccoons, groundhogs and skunks. Once trapped, the animal is relocated to a place away from the person's home. Homeowners assume they will no longer be troubled by the animal(s). People who use live-traps believe they are being hu­mane since the trap doesn't hurt the animal. In most cases, if released soon after being caught, the animal is not hurt. But it is what the homeowner does not see that makes the use of these traps extremely inhumane.

Take the case of one couple who trapped and relocated a raccoon that had moved into their attic. Two days after removing the animal, the family heard the cries of baby raccoons. After cutting through drywall to access the area from where the sounds were coming, they found four raccoons, about three weeks of age, orphaned. The homeowner called a rehabilitator, feeling terrible for what she had done and not knowing what to do next.

Up to 30% of orphaned wildlife calls are the result of homeowners trapping and relocating adult females, unaware that these animals have dependent young. Too fre­quently, thousands of "created" orphans have to be euthanized because the limited numbers of licensed rehabilitators do not have the space to house all of them.

After checking with 11 pest control and wildlife removal companies, one wildlife center in Canada found that eight of these companies are live-trapping and reloca­ting wildlife during the birthing season. They tell clients that the young can survive without their mother!

Live-trapping will not solve wildlife "problems." Consider the facts:

  • When a nursing female is trapped and relocated, her young will starve.  Even if the mother and her young are trapped together, she will be very stressed to find a new denning site and may only take one or two of her young, leaving the others behind.
  • Birthing/rearing begins in March and lasts until the end of October for several mammals. Humane trap­ping outside of the birthing season, prior to or during winter, is a death sentence for the animal as he’s unlikely to find a winter denning site before dying of exposure.
  • Relocated animals often do not survive in new terri­tories where they have no food source or denning site, and are frequently driven off by resident animals.
  • "Humane" trapping to rid a property of "nuisance" wildlife does not solve any perceived problem. Urban wildlife is usually plentiful enough that trapped and relocated animals are soon replaced with others of the same species.
  • The only time live-trapping is humane is when an animal is sick or injured and needs to be transported to a wildlife rehabilitation centre.
  • There are humane ways to deal with wildlife prob­lems. They involve suitable deterrents and proper animal-proofing.

    If you shop in one of the stores that sell or rent "humane" traps, let them know that you, as a customer, don't approve, and leave them a copy of this article. Your help will make a difference in reducing a lot of needless suffering and death.