Protecting the 1984 Leghold Trap Ban Law

Action Needed

Please contact your legislators and ask them to co-sponsor S179/A3110. You are represented in Trenton by one Senator and two Assembly members. You can locate your legislators here. To make it easier, please enter your address below to automatically identify your state legislators. Click on Start Writing. Please feel free to modify the sample letter to personalize it for maximum effect.


In 1984, the New Jersey legislature banned the sale, use, possession, importation and transportation of any type of steel-jaw leghold trap.  New Jersey’s is the strongest leghold trap law in the country.

On June 9, 2015 the New Jersey Fish and Game Council (FGC) voted to adopt a regulation allowing the use of three “enclosed foothold” traps, circumventing the 1984 law. It is the second time that the Council, along with the fur trade and the Division of Fish and Wildlife, has tried to undercut the statute by trying to regulate a modified steel-jaw trap. The “new” trap is a  type of steel-jaw leghold trap.

APLNJ, the Animal Welfare Institute, Born Free, New Jersey Chapter of the Sierra Club and other organizations filed a lawsuit against the Council. Incredibly, a lower court simply deferred to the state agency, ignoring a previous Superior Court ruling supporting the ban as well as the opinion of Irwin Kimmelman, Attorney General at that time (the closer an Attorney General’s opinion to the passage of the law, the more weight it carries).

As APLNJ’s commentary (below) in the Star-Ledger explains, deference to bureaucracies is automatic; in this case, however, the agency is the entity from which the law must be protected.

The New Jersey Supreme Court is not hearing the case, so we are pushing for passage of S179/A3110.


The Law

23:4-22.1. Animal trap of steel-jaw leghold type; prohibition of manufacture, sale, possession, importation or transportation

No person shall manufacture, sell, offer for sale, possess, import or transport an animal trap of the steel-jaw leghold type.

23:4-22.2.  Prohibition of taking or attempting to take any animal

No person shall take or attempt to take any animal by means of a trap of the  steel-jaw leghold type.

23:4-22.3.  Possession as prima facie evidence

The possession of a trap of the steel-jaw leghold type shall be prima facie  evidence of a violation of section 2 of this amendatory and supplementary act  except under the circumstances indicated by section 5 of this amendatory and  supplementary act.

The Traps

“Enclosed foothold traps” (pictured right: EGG™, Duffer Trap™, Lil Grizz Get’rz™) are jawed, spring-operated types of leghold traps that snap shut on the foot or leg of an animal to inflict pain, injury, anxiety and fear, and attendant injuries and suffering. The traps restrain the animal for prolonged periods of time.

Coalition Formed

APLNJ joined 32 other organizations to protect the 1984 leghold trap law. See the coalition letter here.


In behalf of the Animal Protection League of New Jersey and the Animal Welfare Institute, as well as the New Jersey Chapter of the Sierra Club, Born Free USA, Lawyers in Defense of Animals, Associated Humane, and Unexpected Wildlife Refuge, Attorney Dante DiPirro filed suit against the New Jersey Fish and Game Council, New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife, and New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.

Incredibly, the Appelate Division simply deferred to the game council, the very entity from which the law must be protected. For Star-Ledger and Press of Atlantic City editorials against the court’s decision, please see November 2, 2016 media below.

As many will remember, thirty years ago, the state’s Attorney General and the Superior Court defended the statute from a similar move by the council, yet this panel of three judges court never examined the record.

Our appeal with the New Jersey Supreme Court will not be heard.


The following Op-Eds were written by APLNJ’s Wildlife Policy Director Susan Russell, original lobbyist for the 1984 law.

January 15, 2017: Press of Atlantic City

Trapping lobbyist misleading about raccoons, rabies and leghold traps, says Susan Russell

January 3, 2017: Star-Ledger

Animal rights court ignored the law in ruling on cruel leg-hold traps

December 19, 2016: My Central Jersey, part of USA Today Network

Cruel leghold traps still should be banned


January 25, 2017: Burlington County Times, Joe Mason Podcast

November 2, 2016: Editorial – Star-Ledger

How was N.J. court convinced these bone-crushing traps are humane?

November 2, 2016: Editorial – Press of Atlantic City

Legislature needs to reassert long-standing ban on leghold traps

November 2, 2016: New Jersey Advance Media for

Controversial animal trap can be used in N.J., court rules

October 28, 2016: Press of Atlantic City

Appellate court allows leghold traps for capturing possums and raccoons

November 15, 2015: Editorial Star-Ledger

With leghold traps there is no debate: They are inhumane

June 29, 2016: Editorial – Press of Atlantic City

Leghold traps / New design better, but still cruel and not needed

June 15, 2015: Press of Atlantic City

New Jersey game council OKs use of banned animal traps

June 12, 2015: Editorial – Star-Ledger

Keep those inhumane leghold traps illegal in N.J. 

June 10, 2015: Press of Atlantic City – Photos