HRC Research Primer: Trapping in the United States



This primer summarizes the available quantitative research about trapping land animals, primarily for fur or wildlife management purposes. The data provided here covers the size of the U.S. population of trappers as well as public attitudes toward trapping. This report also includes the available statistics regarding the types of traps used and the number of animals killed by trappers.

The Bottom Line: Trapping is a specific form of hunting animals that utilizes a mechanical device for catching and holding the target animal. Public opinion surveys that specifically address trapping are rare, but sentiment appears to be similar to attitudes toward hunting (see HRC Primer, Hunting in the United States). It appears that both the proportion of people engaged in trapping and the number of animals killed by licensed trappers are declining over time.

Trapping kills more than four million animals each year. Many animals other than the “target animals” are also caught and killed in traps, including companion animals and endangered animals. The use of certain traps is perceived to be cruel by a majority of the population, causing some U.S. states to pass legislation banning such traps. Where no ban is in place, surveys tend to show support for a proposed ban on these types of traps.

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