Your recent article about coyotes alludes to what trapping proponents call padded foothold traps, which are actually old-fashioned steel-jawed leghold traps with a thin strap of plastic attached to the jaws. These traps are not humane for any animal who steps into them, and they’re more likely to harm domestic pets than wildlife, which is one of the reasons why we oppose their use.
Furthermore, very few people know how to operate these traps safely, risking harm to themselves when they try to rescue their pets.
Nevertheless, current law already allows health officials to use these traps in cases involving threats to public health and safety; animals caught in them must be killed, however. The proposed legislation, H. 3315, would allow recreational use of these - and other - inhumane traps. If this bill becomes law, more animals will certainly be harmed than spared.
Trapping coyotes does not work to resolve conflicts. Coyotes have been subjected to every form of killing in our power, and they have responded by increasing their population and their range. It is far more effective, and certainly more humane, to learn to live with them in ways that minimize conflicts. Simple changes will help: Don’t feed them (unintentionally or otherwise), supervise small pets when outdoors, and eliminate access to potential den sites.
Newton should follow Belmont’s successful example to live safely - and humanely - with coyotes.
For more information, visit www.mspca.org/wildlife.
Deputy director, advocacy
Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals