May 23, 2018
Certain traps are banned in the UK due to their inhumaneness. Leghold traps have been banned since 1958 as animals caught in leghold traps suffer intense pain and injuries until the trapper returns to kill them.
In 1991 the EU agreed a Regulation which prohibited the use of the leghold traps and the import of pelts from 13 species of wild fur-bearing animals caught by such traps or methods that did not meet international trapping standards. However this was considered incompatible with international trade rules and so the EU started negotiations with Canada, Russia and the USA to agree humane trapping standards.
The political negotiations between the EU, Russia, USA and Canada agreed the International Humane Trapping Standards (AIHTS) in December 1996. This set standards for killing and restraining traps that were far below those recommended by the European scientists.
The EU’s ban on imported fur came into effect in September 1997. However, as the three main trapping and exporting countries of Russia, USA and Canada signed the AIHTS, the import ban does not apply to them. These countries still export furs to the EU, despite the fact that they still use the leghold trap, banned in the EU.
In March 2018, the UK issued a consultation on a proposal to ratify the AIHTS by prohibiting certain traps that did not meet the AIHTS standards. If the UK implemented the AIHTS it would prevent it from setting any higher standards on trapping including an import ban on furs.
The RSPCA is opposed to the AIHTS as it does not set high enough welfare standards and feels that it is a poor precedent as the first multilateral animal welfare agreement.