PETA’s Secret Weapon In Fur Ban Fight: A Coyote Trap

The animal-rights group is showing lawmakers how brutal the traps are as the City Council considers a ban on fur sales.

By Noah Manskar, Patch Staff |  | 
NEW YORK — Hooded faces ringed with fur seem to cross every New York City block in the winter months as Canada Goose parkas have grown popular. But the high-end outerwear’s trim comes from coyotes, which often find themselves caught in small but powerful metal traps, animal rights activists say.

As the City Council considers banning fur sales, Dan Mathews, a senior vice president at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, has been snapping pencils with one of those traps to show lawmakers just how brutal the fur trade is.

“Some of the shards of the pencil fly eight feet across the room and they imagine that being an animal’s bone — it puts a visceral face on a talking point,” said Mathews, who has met over the last several weeks with half a dozen Council members, including Speaker Corey Johnson.

The trap is a powerful visual aid in PETA’s quest to make New York the nation’s largest city to ban fur sales, according to Mathews, who is also demonstrating it for fashion designers and model agencies ahead of a May 15 hearing on the Council bill.

PETA is training its activists to show the traps off more widely and producing a video featuring the designer Stella McCartney to educate consumers about them, Mathews said.


“People have commented that it looks like something out of a medieval torture museum,” Mathews said. “And I think when people realize that there are thousands of these in use today capturing animals — not just coyotes but all sorts of wildlife and family dogs — it becomes a very simple issue.”

The so-called leghold trap Mathews demonstrated for Patch on Thursday snapped in the blink of an eye. Food is used to lure coyotes to the devices, which go for as little as $10 online. But they inadvertently capture other creatures such as dogs, cats, songbirds and owls — which trappers call “trash animals,” Mathews said.

New York State is home to about 10,000 trappers. Leghold traps are used throughout the state, including just north of the city in Westchester County, Mathews said.

State law bans leg-gripping traps with teeth and requires trappers in most parts of the state to visit their traps every 24 hours. But such rules are hard to enforce, as only the trappers generally know where the traps are set, Mathews said.

Mathews expects a tough fight over the proposed fur ban despite Johnson’s support for it. The bill would bar retailers from selling fur apparel and fine those who get caught.

Johnson has argued the measure would help protect animals. But longtime Manhattan furrier Jerry Sorbara, whose store is on West 32nd Street, says it could put him out of business.

“It’s gonna escalate to that you cannot even walk in the street and they come and see what kind of shoes you (are) wearing, and they will kill you if you wear something that is not right,” said Sorbara, 80, who opened his custom fur business in 1975. “I think it’s really insane what they’re doing.”

While Johnson’s bill would let merchants sell used fur items, Sorbara said only “a handful” of people sell used fur coats. The ban could also hurt parts of the fashion industry that make other components of fur garments such as buttons and linings, he said.

Sorbara said he uses furs from farm-raised minks, chinchillas and sables — not trapped animals. He’s even made a miniature mink coat for a customer’s dog.

“You mean to say … that we don’t love animals? Are you kidding me?” Sorbara said.

9 thoughts on “PETA’s Secret Weapon In Fur Ban Fight: A Coyote Trap

  1. If that trap doesn’t break a limb I’d be surprised. Shock, stress etc. Not worth a stupid fur trimmed coat.

    Even in that pathetic website I posted above where they try to claim that the traps don’t harm and are the same ones biologists use, the coyote looks like he’s in agony from the expression on his face.

  2. Having rescued a coyote from a steel trap some years ago, along I-25 going to Albuquerque, I can report that this poor wild animal was in shock, but not too badly hurt when we rescued him. His paw “fingers” were in the trap, fortunately for this coyote, there was minimal bleeding, but he was in the process of sawing off his foot or leg on the barbed wire upon which he was caught. I gently talked to him, as my partner used a folding shovel to open this monstrous device. He relaxed as I talked with him, and this help allow us to free him. He limped off toward the Rio Grande, about 50 yards or so, turned around and just looked at us–as if to say “thank you, I know you saved me.” That was the first real trap I came in contact with. Look for traps along hiking trails, near Trail Heads, usually around trees, they may be partially covered, and many trappers will put bait of around them, and also hang shiny objects on trees near the traps to attract cats, whether wild or domestic. A cat will need to have its head covered, be sure to wear gloves, and keep talking to the poor animal, also have a muzzle of some sort to slip over the animal’s jaw.
    Traps are everywhere, all over National Forests, Wilderness, state lands, private lands, and also on National Wildlife Refuges.
    We must be willing to stay calm, be prepared and do whatever is necessary. As I write this, thousands of wild animals are suffering in these barbaric, sadistic devices. One reason some places have banned these things, is because of the outcry regarding domestic animals being caught in them.
    If hiking keep your dog on a leash–period. Or, leave the dog at home, preferably.

  3. I’m shedding so many tears over the threat of poor Sorbara’s business going under. Not.
    This industry can’t die fast enough. Call it Godwin’s Law, but I’m pretty sure the slave trade also helped semi-related businesses too. Didn’t stop the main trade and the people involved being the stuff of pure evil – who also considered themselves justified, good, honest and hard-working.

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