February 22, 2016: Today, Animal welfare attorney, Dante DiPirro, of Hopewell NJ, filed a brief in the New Jersey Appellate Division challenging a regulation that would allow the use of “enclosed” leghold traps in New Jersey. The use of leghold type traps has been banned by statute in the state since 1984. In the fall of 2015, the NJ Fish and Game Council — at the urging of the dwindling number of trappers that still operate in the state — promulgated a new regulation that seeks to do an end-run around the statutory ban. In the regulation, the Council legalizes the use of traps it calls “enclosed” foothold traps, which are in reality, traps in which the leghold mechanism (trigger, spring, steel jaws) are enclosed in an outer housing (made of metal or plastic) with a 2″ hole. The animal places its arm/leg through the hole in the enclosure to get the bait which triggers the steel jaw to slam shut on the animal’s leg with up to 60 pounds of force, and restrain the animal trapped and in pain for up to 2 days until the hunter returns to “finish off” the animal. The addition of an enclosure with a hole does not protect raccoon, possum or pet cats from being trapped or from suffering severe injuries, but is designed to prevent hunting dogs from getting their paws crushed or injured in the trap.
The appellants in the suit include both New Jersey and national animal welfare and environmental groups: Animal Protection League of New Jersey; Animal Welfare Institute; Sierra Club; Associated Humane Societies; Unexpected Wildlife Refuge; Born Free USA; and Lawyers in Defense of Animals.
The Appellants’ Brief filed today highlights the Legislature’s intent to ban all traps of the steel-jaw leghold type because leghold traps function as “holding devices” which leave the animal in excruciating pain for hours or days, and the factual nature of the “enclosed” leghold traps which have the same essential design, and function, and cause the same harm, as other types of leghold traps. The brief asks the Court to invalidate the regulations as conflicting with the statutory ban. Click on link below to read the Appellants’ brief.