A bill that would ban leg-hold traps in Montgomery County was approved by the House of Delegates this week and is on its way to the Senate, where a committee hearing is not yet scheduled.
Last year, the proposal died in the county’s Senate delegation, where it was approved Friday with just one senator opposing it.
The measure gained more support in the House on Monday — the vote was 90-46 — than it had last year, when it was approved it 85-50, said Del. Tom Hucker (D-Dist. 20) of Silver Spring, who is sponsoring the bill.
“Hopefully, the rest of the Senate will understand local courtesy,” Hucker said, referring to lawmakers’ custom of supporting legislation that applies only locally and has the support of local lawmakers.
Opposition to the measure has come from the Farm Bureau and legislators who said they believe farmers and landowners needed the traps to protect their crops, livestock and property.
The proposal does not have the support of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.
Expert management and regulations are a better way to deal with the issue than legislation, said Paul Peditto, director of DNR’s Wildlife and Heritage Service.
Poolesville resident Ellie Trueman, who has organized support for the ban, disagrees, and so do numerous animal welfare groups and the Montgomery Countryside Alliance, which includes many farmers and residents of the county’s agricultural reserve.
They contend that more humane methods are available for managing wildlife and that those methods would avoid injuring or killing pets, including barn cats or farm dogs, who sometimes are ensnared in leg-hold traps.
“Montgomery County is a densely populated county looking for an enlightened approach” that recognizes research that shows leg-hold traps are not effective in controlling coyotes and that leg-hold traps “are indiscriminate and inhumane,” Trueman said.
Peditto said DNR staff members field hundreds of calls from residents of Montgomery County who are bothered by animals such as yapping foxes and educate them on ways to cope with the nuisance rather than trap the animal.
And, he said the use of cage traps can cause serious injury to some animals that batter themselves against the sides in an attempt to escape.