After a coyote died after being strangled in a snare trap in Silver Lake, Councilman Mitch O’Farrell proposed banning the devices to prevent animal cruelty. But at least one animal trapper believes that banning snare traps in the City of Los Angeles is a bad idea.
Jose Becerra of The Critter Trapper, a wild animal abatement company, said he advises homeowners to use other methods, including water spraying scarecrows. But when an animal has to be captured, he doesn’t use cages, which animals notice right away. Snare traps, in contrast, are nearly invisible. “Snares are my preferred method of trapping,” said Becerra.
Banning snares would force trappers to use “more gruesome” methods to capture nuisance wildlife. Becerra gave the conibear device, a spring-loaded “body-gripping” trap similar to a giant mousetrap, as an example. The tool is designed to kill animals quickly by snapping onto their necks or torso.
O’Farrell said the ban would prevent the deaths of wildlife and unintended targets, like pets, that are often caught in traps, sometimes with fatal consequences.
O’Farrell’s motion, which must be approved by the City Council, calls for the city to look into banning “animal traps or snares that maim, kill or cause inhumane suffering.” But the councilman said he was only after snaring devices. O’Farrell recommended taking preventative measures, such as a removing forageable food and securing backyards, to guard against wildlife and using cage traps as a last resort
“It’ll prevent animal cruelty. Not just to wild animals, but to domestic animals as well,” said O’Farrell of his proposal.
But Becerra claimed all kinds of traps, including cages, will capture domestic animals, in particular cats. Snares come in different sizes and will only tighten to a certain diameter, which diminishes the chances of catching certain household pets. There are also types of snares that hold the animal to their base, to prevent them from strangling.
By law captured wild animals must be released on site or killed immediately. The trapper believes releasing “defeats the purpose” because the feral wildlife will come back. Releasing the animals is more profitable, but Berecca considers it a dishonest business practice. Residents often have to call trappers back because most species of wildlife will return.
O’Farrell said he was not aware of companies like The Critter Trapper and wouldn’t speculate on how the ban would affect their businesses. He took a staunch stance against commercial animal trapping businesses. “I’m not interested in helping fur trapping companies in Los Angeles.”
But even if the snares are banned, Becerra said he would find another method to suit his needs. The trapper believed maintaining a balance between wild animals and humans in urban environments will continue to be an issue, especially in communities like Silver Lake and Echo Park with exceptional bio-diversity.
“It’s a debate our grandchildren will be having,” he said.
Tony Cella is a freelance reporter who has covered crime and grime in Los Angeles, New York City and the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska. Click here to contact Cella with questions, comments or concerns.