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Letter: Beaver story didn't tell how animals are trapped

A recent article shined a favorable light on a Detroit Lakes woman who has been skinning beavers for over 40 years, but it failed to include information on how beavers are trapped and killed.

Minnesota's trappers primarily use steel-jaw leghold traps and Conibear traps to catch beavers. As for the former, the device has been banned in 89 countries throughout the world, and several U.S. States have either banned the trap or put significant restrictions on its use. These prohibitions are for good reason -- leghold traps have been known to break bones and tear tendons and ligaments in the animals who become their victims.

Called "body crushing" traps by some, Conibear traps can deliver a fatal blow only if an animal of the right size enters one at the right speed and angle. If all these variables are not met, the trapped animal is held, sometimes under water, until it drowns or suffocates. While some trappers and wildlife agency personnel believe Conibear traps to be instant killing devices, this is not always the case. In the July/August 2001 issue of American Trapper Magazine, trapper Jim Comstock explains that beavers can be taken out of traps as large as No. 330 Conibears very much alive, thus destroying the myth that Conibears are instant-kill traps.

When a trapper happens upon an animal caught in one of his traps who is still alive, his next job is to kill them. Often he will do so by bludgeoning them to death, by shooting them at close range, or by injecting them with poison. Since there are no laws that govern how a trapper must kill trapped animals, trappers often do so in the least expensive way possible, regardless of how inhumane that may be.

All this suffering and cruelty for a measly $6 to $25 -- the cost of a beaver skin.

Trapping is an anachronism that has no place in modern society. It is a barbaric practice that causes great suffering to helpless animals and as such, it ought to be pushed into extinction as soon as possible. Please join our growing number of members and supporters throughout Minnesota in hastening the day when recreational trapping is rendered extinct. Visit for more information.