November 28, 2016: Animal law attorney, Dante DiPirro, of Hopewell New Jersey has asked the New Jersey Supreme Court to hear a challenge to a regulation adopted by the New Jersey Fish and Game Council that brings the use of leghold traps back to 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 Appellate Division recently upheld the regulation, after deciding to give great deference to the Council’s “opinion” that the “enclosed” traps were not a type of leghold trap. Appellants contend that the Appellate Division failed to see the challenged traps for what they are— a steel-jaw leghold type trap concealed under an enclosure. The Court overlooked the fact that the challenged traps have the same defining feature of the prohibited traps – restraining an animal by the leg – and cause the same harm intended to be prevented – not killing but leaving an animal in excruciating pain for days. The Court further overlooked that the enactment of the Legislature — which voices the will of the citizenry to prohibit all traps of the steel-jaw leghold “type” as cruel and inhumane devices — must be given effect by invalidating the challenged regulation. Click below to read Appellants’ briefs: