I've lived in Maine my entire life. I love the state and the beauty of nature that surrounds me, but I'm very disappointed with one barbaric tradition still held by some hunters in the state of Maine.
According to the Environmental News Network, Maine is the only state in the country that still allows leg-hold trapping of bears. From the 1960's to the 1980's the steel-jawed leg-hold trap was made known to the world as, conclusively, the most barbaric device ever contrived for animals. It is the most gory visual display of animal cruelty.
Trapping may be the most inhumane method used by Wildlife Services, other public agencies, and private interests. It is highly unregulated with few restrictions on types of traps that can be set or the number of animals that can be trapped. Trappers don't have to check traps for 2-4 days, allowing the animal to suffer. Animals frequently sustain severe injuries from traps. When not killed outright by the trap, animals can endure physiological trauma, dehydration, exposure to severe weather, and predation by other animals. Trappers usually club, suffocate, or strangle the animal because a bullet hole and blood would reduce a pelt’s value. Most traps are notoriously indiscriminate, capturing almost any animal who triggers them. Non-target species found in traps include endangered species, raptors, dogs, cats, and humans. Even if released, they may die from injuries or reduced ability to hunt or forage for food.
The most commonly used trap is the jaw leg-hold trap, a restraining device with spring-loaded steel jaws that clamp on an animal’s foot or leg when triggered. Leg-hold traps can cause severe swelling, lacerations, fractures, self-mutilation, limb amputation, and death. A desperate animal will often try to chew off a limb to escape. Snares are primitive wire nooses that are designed to tighten around an animal’s leg or neck. While small victims of neck snares may become unconscious in ten minutes from strangulation, larger animals may struggle for days. Conibear traps consist of two metal frames hinged at the center and powered by two torsion springs to create a scissor-like action. The traps are supposed to kill animals instantly by snapping their spinal column at the base of the neck. But, the devices kill fewer than 15 percent of trapped animals quickly. Many animals die slow, painful deaths as their abdomens, heads, or other body parts are crushed.
It is hard for me to believe that the majority of Maine people, if they thoroughly understood this barbaric form of animal torture, would stand idly by and do nothing.