Grace's Legacy


A lawyer friend of mine in the US is of the opinion that suing the manufacturer of the trap may be far more rapid, effective, and cost-effective than attempting to modify or introduce laws in each of the Canadian provinces (hunting is not under federal jurisdiction here) and US states. In these extracts from several e-mail communications, his basic idea is presented, along with an example of an action in progress.

"... a product liability lawsuit is more likely to change the kind of trap that a manufacturer would make available to the public, as legislation has many restrictions regarding jurisdictional issues, i.e. you cannot pass a law that is valid in the US and Canada—they are separate sovereign nations. But, using tort law, it is possible to make a change at the source of the problem that is much wider reaching than any legislation might be able to do. Of course you could mount campaigns in every jurisdiction, but then that would require lobbying in every state and provincial capital (a daunting task to say the least)."

"You should start a campaign to pass a law in Quebec (and maybe on the federal level) that outlaws the use of those conibear traps or only allows them outside of locations where humans frequent, and that anywhere traps are used signs will be posted.

"... After all, the fact that the traps maim is well known; the manufacturers are responsible, not just the trappers (also the manufacturers are the ones who can be forced to change things for everyone if you are unable to pass a law that is good all over Canada and the US)."

"They certainly have liability and here in the US that would be a way to get them to make the traps safer, and maybe even design them with some kind of warning device or mandatory instructions.

"I don't know if you can change legislation in Canada but I found a model law that an association in California is trying to implement there to prevent this kind of killing."

You can check out their Web site:

Here is the text of the law:

An Act Prohibiting the Use of Body-Gripping Devices

Sec. 1 Intent

It is the intent of the City Council/County Board to protect public health and safety, and animal welfare by prohibiting the use of body-gripping devices. The ordinance is necessary to preserve wild animals and prevent the unselective catching, maiming of wild animals including birds, endangered and threatened species, and companion animals, as well as injury to children and adults that come into contact with these devices.

Sec. 2 Definitions

A. "Body-gripping device" includes, but is not limited to, any snare (neck, body, or leg), kill-type trap (Conibear), leghold trap (steel-jaw, padded, and offset), and any other device designed to grip a body or body part. Cage and box traps, suitcase-type live beaver traps, and common rat and mouse traps shall not be considered body-gripping devices.

B. "Person" means any individual, partnership, corporation, organization, trade or professional association, firm, limited liability company, joint venture, association, trust, estate, or any other legal entity and any officer, member, shareholder, director, employee, agent or representative thereof.

Sec. 3 Prohibitions

A. It shall be unlawful for any person to set or use, or attempt to set or use, a body-gripping device of any kind designed or intended to take hold of, capture or kill any animals within city/county limits.

B. It shall be unlawful for the owner, possessor, or any other person in control of a lot, tract, or parcel of land within city/county limits or any residence or business premises situated thereon to knowingly permit the use of a body-gripping device upon the property, residence or premises.

Sec. 4 Exemptions

A. The provisions of this act shall not prohibit federal, state, county, or municipal government employees or their duly authorized agents from using a Conibear trap in water, padded-jaw leghold trap, or non-strangling foot snare where use of such device is the only method available to protect human health and safety.

B. The provisions of this act shall not prohibit federal or state employees or their duly authorized agents from using a Conibear trap in water, padded-jaw leghold trap, or non-strangling type foot snare where use of such device is the only means of protecting threatened and endangered species, as listed under the Federal and State Endangered Species Act.

Sec. 5 Impounding of Body-Gripping Devices

Whenever a body-gripping device is used contrary to the prohibitions outlined in this Act within the confines of the city/county, the same may be impounded by any duly authorized police officer or by any State Fish and game warden until judicial action occurs.

Sec. 6 Violations - Penalties

Conduct made unlawful by Section 3 of this ordinance constitutes a misdemeanor and shall be punishable as a misdemeanor. Each misdemeanor violation under this act shall be subject to a fine not to exceed five thousand dollars ($5,000) or imprisonment not to exceed one year or both fine and imprisonment.

For further information or assistance with drafting and introducing legislation on prohibiting trapping in your city or county, contact Camilla Fox at:

Animal Protection Institute.
P.O. Box 22505, Sacramento, CA 95822
(916) 731-5521

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