The classic toothed steel-jawed leghold trap that we see depicted in cartoons has been illegal for use in Canada since the 1980’s.
Animal species vary in size and behaviours as do their habitats, so no one type of trap or trapping method works for all species in all settings. Most traps are species specific, meaning they are designed to capture a particular species or group of like species. How traps are set and located is determined by what species is intended to be captured.
There are two methods of trapping animals approved in Canada for capturing specific species, or for use in different settings or for different purposes.
Restraining Trapping Methods: Uses traps such as limb-holding or cage and box traps that are designed and set to hold, but not kill, the captured animal. Limb holding devices are necessary in specific circumstances for effectively capturing large animal species such as coyote or for catching problem animals in urban areas. These traps need to meet welfare standards.
Lethal Trapping Methods: Involves traps designed and set with the intention of killing a trapped animal of the target species. These traps and trapping methods are designed to render a quick death to the captured animals. Similar to the common mousetrap, these devices are especially effective for capturing small to medium size animals such as weasel, beaver and fisher. These traps are subject to welfare standards.
Traps and trapping methods continue to evolve. Over the years, trappers themselves have adopted the use of more effective traps and trapping methods, as they become available. One result is that the conventional steel jawed leghold traps introduced to Canada by the Europeans, have been replaced by modern limb holding and lethal traps that meet international welfare requirements.