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Trapping Legislation

S. 492/H. 799: Trapping legislation

MSPCA Position: Oppose
Sponsors: Senator Anne Gobi (S. 492) and Representative Paul Frost (H. 799)
Status: Referred to Joint Committee on Environment and Natural Resources; awaiting a hearing.

A number of bills are filed each session that remove or weaken current restrictions on cruel body-gripping Conibear and leghold (sometimes called foot-hold) traps which are used to capture fur-bearing animals, such as beaver and coyote. These changes would effectively allow a return to the days of recreational trapping with these inhumane and indiscriminate devices, something that 64% of Massachusetts voters decried in 1996 when they voted in favor of a ballot initiative known as the Wildlife Protection Act.

Read about different kinds of traps, and myths and facts associated with them. These traps can catch any animal, wild or domestic, who walks or swims into them, causing intense suffering and death. The MSPCA opposes legislation that would expand trapping in Massachusetts.

The bills filed this session take a variety of approaches, but the result of the passage of any of them would effectively be a return to the days of recreational trapping with inhumane and indiscriminate devices, practices that 64% of Massachusetts voters rejected when they passed the 1996 Wildlife Protection Act ballot question.

Background of the current trapping law:

In 1996, 64% percent of the voters in Massachusetts declared their opposition to the use of body-gripping traps for capturing fur-bearing mammals by voting in favor of the Wildlife Protection Act. In 2000, the legislature made revisions to the law, with negotiations centering around allowing reasonable exceptions in order to facilitate solutions to damage caused by beavers and muskrats, while still retaining the intent of the ballot initiative. Specifically, these changes moved some control from the state to the local level in order to expedite the permitting process in cases of threats to health and safety.

Key reasons that changes to the current law are unnecessary:

The MSPCA opposes any change to the current law that would reduce the use of non-lethal solutions as a means to resolve conflicts with animals. Such changes are unnecessary—they would not result in less beaver-related flooding or a reduced beaver population—and would be contrary to the intent of the ballot question.

Additional Resources:



This list represents anyone who has signed on to co-sponsor any of the four pieces of legislation above. Click on the bill number above to see a list of legislators who specifically signed on to that bill.

State Senators:

Name District/Address
Anne M. Gobi Worcester, Hampden, Hampshire and Middlesex
Susan L. Moran Plymouth and Barnstable
Jacob R. Oliveira 7th Hampden

State Representatives:

Name District/Address
David T. Vieira 3rd Barnstable
Joseph D. McKenna 18th Worcester
Vanna Howard 17th Middlesex
William M. Straus 10th Bristol
Paul K. Frost 7th Worcester
2023 Renewal 5

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