Trapping in the United States
before Europeans came to the North American continent, natives were
using traps to catch animals and fish.
used whalebone nooses to snare waterfowl, the Hopis used dead-fall
rock slabs to kill fox and Aleutian Indians used barbed spikes to
According to a 1902 Smithsonian
report, Traps of the American Indians, the barbed spike technique
worked like this: The trap consisted of "a board two feet square
and two inches thick, furnished with barbed spikes, which was
placed in Bruin's path and covered with dust. The unsuspecting
(animal) stepped upon the smooth surface, when his foot sank and
was pierced by one of the barbed hooks. Maddened with pain, he put
forth another foot to assist in pulling the first away, when that,
too, was caught. When all four of the feet were spiked to the board
the beast fell over on its back and its career was soon ended by
Europeans first use steel traps in the New
1670 The Hudson's Bay Company is
chartered; furs become the equivalent of
1806 Lewis and Clark return from their epic
trip to the West.
1820 The great Rocky Mountain
beaver hunt begins, as does the heyday of the mountain man. Beaver
hats are the height of fashion.
July 1825 First
mountain man rendezvous is held on the Henry's Fork of the Green
River in what is today Wyoming.
rendezvous is held near the mouth of Horse Creek on the Green River
in what is today Wyoming; as beaver falls out of fashion to be
replaced by silk.
1851 Traps are mass-produced.
1870s Predator control becomes a priority in the
West, with wolves, coyotes, grizzly bears and other large predators
targeted by trappers protecting livestock.
The Oneida Community, Ltd. trap company receives a letter from a
veteran trapper decrying the cruelty of
1925 The National Association of the Fur
Industry offers a $10,000 prize for the invention of a "truly
humane trap." No one collects the money.
National Anti-Steel-Trap League is formed.
Massachusetts bans traps that cause "continued suffering and (are)
not designed to kill the animals at once." A decade later, the ban
is overturned by the legislature.
in the Great Depression supplement their incomes by selling
1930s Author and ex-trapper Archibald S.
Belaney writes about the cruelty of
1949 The American Humane Association
offers $10,000 reward for the development of a humane trap. Offer
stands until 1979. No one collects the
1950-1960s Animal-rights groups, including
the Animal Protection Institute, the Animal Welfare Institute, the
Committee for Humane Legislation, the Friends of Animals, the Fund
for Animals, and the Humane Society of the United States, are
1958 The Conibear trap is
1960 A large male wolf is trapped
on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation, Ariz. It is the last wolf
trapped by a federal agent in the state.
Oregon voters reject a measure that would have banned
1992 Arizona voters reject a measure
that would have banned trapping.
voters pass a measure than bans trapping on public
1996 Colorado and Massachusetts voters ban
1998 California bans
1998 Alaska voters reject a measure
that would have banned neck snares for trapping
1998 Woodstream Corp., the nation's
largest manufacturer of steel-jawed leghold traps, announces that
it will discontinue making leghold traps. It will continue to make
live traps, marketed under the Havahart
- T. R.
Firearms, Traps, & Tools of the Mountain Man, Carl P. Russell,
University of New Mexico Press, 1967; The Wolf in the Southwest,
David E. Brown, The University of Arizona Press, 1980; The Steel
Trap in North America, Richard Gerstell, Stackpole Books,