Help keep illegal leghold traps out of Ireland

The Irish Council Against Blood Sports is calling on members of the public to do a nationwide spot-check to investigate the possible sale of illegal leghold traps. The call comes following an incident in Galway where a fox was found in agony in such a trap (see below for more details).

Help us to catch those who may still be selling these barbaric devices. Please have a look in local shops where these traps may be illegally for sale (general supplies stores, fishing and shooting supplies stores, hardware shops, builder providers, antiques stores, etc) to determine if these traps are available for sale anywhere. If you spot one on sale (or if you know of someone who is setting them), immediately contact the Gardai, your local wildlife conservation ranger or report it to ICABS.

Below is an image of a leghold trap [1] - also known as a gin trap. The bottom half of the image [2] shows the fully opened jaws of the trap. When an animal steps on the trap, the jaws snap shut with great force [3].

Leghold Trap

According to the Wildlife Act, 1976 (Approved Traps, Snares and Nets) Regulations, 1977, gin traps are classified as being unapproved, making it an offence to import or sell them.

Section 34 of the Wildlife Act, 1976 as amended by section 42 of the Wildlife (Amendment Act) 2000 also states that it is unlawful to import, offer for sale or sell such a trap.

The sale of leghold traps is also prohibited in the European Union. See Council Regulation (EEC) No 3254/91

Cat loses leg after being caught in illegal trap in Limerick housing estate

Limerick Post, September 4, 2014

A family pet has had its leg amputated this week after being snared in a horrific steel jaw animal trap in a city housing estate. Storm, a two-year-old cat that was adopted from Limerick Feral Cats as a kitten, is said to be “lucky to be alive” after being trapped in the spring-operated jaws of a gin trap in the Norwood Park/ Lynwood Park area of the city last Thursday. Gin traps have been illegal in Ireland under the the Wildlife Act of 1976 — almost 40 years ago. Read the full article at

Below is a media statement issued by the Galway SPCA on Thursday, 21st August 2003.

The torture and death of a beautiful wild animal

A beautiful wild animal was tortured and subsequently destroyed in Galway this week.

Some caring members of the public alerted the Galway Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (GSPCA) to a fox caught in a steel leg-hold trap in a field in Ballard near Barna church.

The members of the GSPCA who investigated had great difficulty finding the young fox as the poor animal was desperately trying to get away from the pain of the trap by dragging it behind him whilst he tried to scale a wall.

When the GSPCA caught up with the fox he was completely exhausted and covered in bluebottles and flies, which were attacking sores on his body brought about by the cruel trap and his attempt to escape.

The GSPCA brought the suffering animal to the vets, where he was destroyed due to his extensive suffering and injuries.

A humane end to an innocent life callously cut short by some cruel, despicable individual. And what of the countless other foxes, badgers, hares, rabbits, dogs, cats and birds who are never found until it is too late and who die an excruciating, slow death. It is common knowledge that many trapped animals will actually bite off their own leg to try to escape the horrible pain.

Leghold Trap
"Some ignorant people prefer to think of the fox as 'vermin'. He is no more vermin than any other wild animal eking out an existence where man has encroached upon his territory." (Alison Herbert, Chairperson, Galway SPCA).

It is an offence under The Wildlife Act 1976 to hunt protected wild animals and birds. Some ignorant people prefer to think of the fox as “vermin”. He is no more vermin than any other wild animal eking out an existence where man has encroached upon his territory and he is forced to venture further and further into our domesticated “civilisation” to survive.

Traps and snares are openly being sold in Galway city by licensed outlets.

The accompanying photographs say it all. A young animal terrified at the hands of man. A sentient being who has every right to co-exist on this planet alongside man. Man however feels he has dominion over animals - let's hope that one day man will recognise this as arrogant nonsense.

Let's hope also, that in the short term, people will do the right thing and come forward to the Gardai with information on who is setting these abominable instruments of torture.

Alison Herbert

Fox caught in leghold trap
The Galway fox with its paw crushed in the illegal leghold trap. The unfortunate animal was put down by a vet as a result of its injuries.

Fox trapped in grass
The fox lying in agony in the grass with the illegal leghold trap (inset) crushing his paw.

Cat killed in gin trap - Animal Watch 1997

A Wildlife Officer, acting on complaints from an animal welfare group, has confiscated illegal leghold traps being offered for sale in a Kilkenny antiques shop. The owner was ordered by Officer Padraig Comerford to stop selling the cruel traps because they are illegal under the Wildlife Act.

Leghold traps, also known as gin traps, are extremely cruel and capable of causing severe injury and death to animals.

ICABS has witnessed the damage leghold traps cause to animals. In one incident, a pet cat in Westmeath got caught in one of the traps and sustained injuries so great that its leg had to be amputated.

The cat arrived home to its owner in agony with the trap - weighing one and three quarter pounds - biting into its flesh. The unfortunate animal suffered extensive injuries to its skin and nerves and had to be rushed to the vet for attention. The cat's owner said that she suspected the traps were being used to cruelly catch rabbits and hares.

In another incident, a cat was found dead in a trap (see photo).

Cat killed in leghold trap
A cat which was found dead in a leghold trap.

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