“We naturally feel more compassion for a timid and harmless animal, such as a rabbit, than for vermin, but the actual agony must be the same in all cases. It is scarcely possible to exaggerate the suffering thus endured from fear, from acute pain, maddened by thirst, and by vain attempts to escape.
Some who reflect upon this subject for the first time will wonder how such cruelty can have been permitted to continue in these days of civilisation; and no doubt if men of education saw with their own eyes what takes place under their sanction, the system would have been put an end to long ago.”
Charles Darwin speaking out against steel traps – you can read more of Darwin’s appeal further down.
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Ban Steel-Jaw Leghold Traps in the U.S.
Steel-jaw leghold traps are nasty, cruel mechanical devices designed to grasp an animal by the leg using spring-operated metal jaws. In their desperation to escape the pain and terror of being trapped, the captured animal will sometimes bite off the limb that has been caught. The traps often catch unintended animals, including birds, pets, and animals of rare species. Trappers kill millions of animals every year, but many of those animals were unintentionally trapped. They’re often refered to as “trash” animals because their fur isn’t worth any money
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I have to state that I am not keen on the phrasing further on in the petition, the use of the words “innocent animals” such as in ” Innocent animals caught by mistake often have to be euthanized as a result.”This implies that there are some animal who do not matter. I am sure this is merely an unfortunate choice of words intended to show that steel traps not only harm the intended animals but any animal unfortunate enough to get caught in the trap. All animals are innocent, all animals matter whether the animal is someones pet, an endangered species or any animal including rodents and other less favoured creatures. All animals lives are important to them and no animal should be subjected to such cruelty which involves a long and protracted death , any kind of death. Animals just like you and I do not wish to die, animals value their lives as we value ours. Steel jaw traps are cruel to any animal. Such outdated and inhumane treatment of any animal regardless of species has no place in any modern society.
The ideal of course would be to see an end to all forms of trapping, shooting, hunting and killing of animals in any way. But each petition signed and each bill passed that outlaws one kind of cruelty is a step in the right direction.
It may be of interest to note that way back in the 19th century Charles Darwin spoke out against steel traps:
“It is a common observation that cases of brutality to horses, asses, and other large quadrupeds, are much less frequently witnessed now than they were some time ago. This is no doubt owing to the general increase of humanity, and to these animals being now under the protection of the law.
An English gentleman would not himself give a moment’s unnecessary pain to any living creature, and would instinctively exert himself to put an end to any suffering before his eyes: yet it is a fact that every game preserver in this country sanctions a system which consigns thousands of animals to acute agony, probably of eight or ten hours duration, before it is ended by death. I allude to the setting of steel traps for catching vermin.
Some women may never have seen a trap, and therefore I give a wood-cut of one.
The iron teeth shut together with so strong a spring, that a pencil which I inserted was cracked and deeply-indented by the violence of the blow. The grip must be close enough not to allow of the escape of a small animal, such as a stoat or a magpie; and therefore when a cat or a rabbit is caught, the limb is cut to the bone and crushed. A humane game-keeper said to me, “I know what they must feel, as I have had my finger caught.” The smaller animals are often so fortunate as to be killed at once. If we attempt to realise the sufferings of a cat, or other animal when caught, we must fancy what it would be to have a limb crushed during a whole long night, between the iron teeth of a trap, and with the agony increased by constant attempts to escape. Few men could endure to watch for five minutes, an animal struggling in a trap with a crushed and torn limb; yet on all the well-preserved estates throughout the kingdom, animals thus linger every night; and where game-keepers are not humane, or have grown callous to the suffering constantly passing under their eyes, they have been known by an eye-witness to leave the traps unvisited for twenty-four or even thirty-six hours. Such neglect as this is no doubt rare; but traps are often forgotten; and there are few game-keepers who will leave their beds on a cold winter’s morning, one hour earlier, to put an end to the pain of an animal which is safely in their power.
I subjoin the account of the appearance of a rabbit caught in a trap, given by a gentleman, who, last summer witnessed the painful sight many times.
“I know of no sight more sorrowful than that of these unoffending animals as they are seen in the torture grip of these traps. They sit drawn up into a little heap, as if collecting all their force of endurance to support the agony; some sit in a half torpid state induced by intense suffering. Most young ones are found dead after some hours of it, but others as you approach, start up, struggle violently to escape, and shriek pitiably, from terror and the pangs occasioned by their struggles.”
We naturally feel more compassion for a timid and harmless animal, such as a rabbit, that for vermin, but the actual agony must be the same in all cases. It is scarcely possible to exaggerate the suffering thus endured from fear, from acute pain, maddened by thirst, and by vain attempts to escape.
Bull-baiting and cock-fighting have rightly been put down by law; I hope it may never be said that the members of the British Parliament will not make laws to protect animals if such laws should in any way interfere with their own sports.
Some who reflect upon this subject for the first time will wonder how such cruelty can have been permitted to continue in these days of civilisation; and no doubt if men of education saw with their own eyes what takes place under their sanction, the system would have been put an end to long ago.
We shall be told that setting steel traps is the only way to preserve game, but we cannot believe that Englishmen when their attention is once drawn to the case, will let even this motive weigh against so fearful an amount of cruelty.
The writer of these remarks will be grateful for any suggestions, addressed to A. B., Mr. Strong,1 Printer, Bromley, Kent.”
It was however not until the 1950s that the UK finally outlawed steel traps.