SPRINGFIELD—Taking action to protect Illinois’ wildlife, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today vetoed House Bill 1486, which would have allowed hunters to use cable restraints, also known as snares, to trap several species of fur-bearing animals. According to animal rights groups, if not killed immediately by the snares, captured animals may die slowly and painfully from dehydration, starvation, exposure to severe weather or predation from other animals.
Snares generally are made of a light wire cable looped through a lock device, and are designed to tighten around the neck or leg of an animal. According to the animal rights organization Animal Protection Institute (API), snares painfully and cruelly strangle their prey. The more the animal struggles against the snare, the tighter the noose draws. API and other groups call snares an indiscriminate killing method that sometimes catches and kills non-target animals, including house pets, hunting dogs and endangered species.
“Snares are inhumane and indiscriminate. Not only do they cruelly kill wild animals, they may also kill domestic pets and even endangered species,” said Governor Blagojevich. “While I support the hunters of Illinois, I refuse to support this particularly gruesome hunting method that’s been banned in Illinois for over fifty years.”
HB 1486 would have allowed hunters to use snares to trap animals such as raccoons, foxes and beavers on land. Even though the bill required that snares had a mechanism to help reduce the chance of strangulation, the safety provisions were still inadequate to protect animals from suffering. These traps have been banned in Illinois for over 50 years because the trap’s wire hoop strangles the animal. Twenty-one states in the nation do not allow the use of snares.
Most national animal rights groups, several of which have Illinois chapters, opposed the legislation.
“We commend Governor Blagojevich for taking action to protect hunting dogs and all pets from cruel snares across the state of Illinois,” said Ledy Van Kavage, an attorney with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).
The Humane Society of the United States said snares are the most primitive, indiscriminate, and inhumane traps used in the United States. Neck and body snares strangle their victims or crush their vital organs, leading to an agonizing and often prolonged death. These traps are particularly cruel to their targets because the muscles around the animals’ windpipe and arteries slow death. According to the Humane Society, animals killed in neck snares are often referred to as “jelly-heads” because of the thick, bloody lymph fluid that swells their heads and necks.
Organizations opposing this legislation further argued that these traps:
- May increase the number of animals trapped and killed for their fur. This increase will likely occur because, since cable restraints are cheaper and easier to use than other traps, trappers will use more of them to blanket an area.
- Despite new safety mechanisms that are supposed to reduce the chance of strangulation, snares are still inhuman and unsafe.
- While hunters place traps in areas where they think they will catch the species of animal they want, these traps can catch any animal whose head or leg fits through the snare’s noose.