PAWS Magazine

Issue 44, Winter 2000

A former trapper speaks out

Former trapper Jeff Branch now speaks against the cruelty of trapping.

"Sometimes I trapped beaver, but mainly I trapped muskrats. I used standard open jaw traps that

were set and attached to a stick so that when a muskrat tripped the trap by stepping in it, the jaws would snap shut, usually around the leg. The muskrat would then struggle and fall with the trap though the hole in the ice inside their den. Generally I would find the muskrats drowned. Sometimes the muskrat would be alive. In this case, the standard procedure I had been taught was to kill the animal by stepping on his chest and crushing him. Another animal that could be trapped but with great difficulty was the coyotes, which were abundant where we lived. A coyote caught in a trap was usually killed by being clubbed to death. I was once admonished for shooting a trapped coyote because I was told it was a ‘waste of a bullet’.

"I can say one thing to anyone who has never seen the horrors of animals caught in traps. If you imagine that it’s cruel, please believe me that it’s much worse than you can imagine. I wish that my relationship with animals in the wild could have been much different. If I could change the past, I would never have set a trap."

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