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Another Voice: There’s no such thing as a humane snare trap

By Brian Shapiro

In New York State, we’ve been blessed with an abundant diversity of natural wildlife to interact with, enjoy and marvel at. Our parks, trails and even suburban backyards serve as sanctuaries filled with a vibrant collection of some of the planet’s most wonderful creatures.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo agrees, stating, “The protection and improvement of our natural environment is more than just an investment in the quality of life for all our citizens; it benefits local economies in all corners of the state.”

However, there’s troubling legislation in Albany this session, posing a significant threat to wildlife and even our beloved family pets. Despite banning inhumane snare traps many decades ago, the State Legislature is considering an ill-conceived bill (A.9462a/S.2953c) that would legalize their widespread use. If passed, snares will be set in nearly every county in the state. This has gone mostly unnoticed by state residents, county officials and most lawmakers.

By shrewdly relabeling these devices as “live cable restraints,” proponents use false semantics in an attempt to convince the public that these are not the grisly devices the word “snare” implies. They most certainly are. When an animal steps into the snare, a loop of thin, metal aircraft cable closes around the neck, tightening as the animal frantically struggles to escape and loosening only when the animal loses consciousness or collapses from exhaustion. Once the animal rallies, this terrible cycle repeats. The animal will often thrash around, causing deep lacerations in its neck or even a sordid death by hanging or suffocation should the lock become jammed.

Trapped animals can suffer for hours or even days since state trapping regulations require only that snares be checked once every 24 hours, or up to 48 hours in some parts of the state. A trapper may use any means to kill a snared animal – including bludgeoning, drowning and suffocation.

Snares are inexpensive, lightweight devices set in high numbers and often forgotten. They will capture any animal of the right height with the misfortune of passing through them. Endangered species, eagles, owls, bobcats and even family pets can and will be caught.

Should this bill pass, we’ll see exponential suffering as a result of our natural landscape being littered with these neck snare devices, not to mention an increased burden placed on wildlife rehabilitators and shelters that will have to care for the inevitable influx of injured animals.

There is no justification to pass this bill and it’s a misnomer to refer to these wire cables as being a “humane” snare. There is no such thing. Our elected officials did the right thing last year when they soundly defeated this bill in the Assembly and they should definitely do so again this session.

Brian Shapiro is the state director of the Humane Society of the United States.