Video: Longtime Trapper Sticks His Hand in Trap to Prove It Isn’t Cruel


Donnie Leonard runs a 30- to 40-mile trap run in Northern Utah during the winter season for coyotes, bobcats, fox, beaver, and mink. He traps because it gets him outdoors and connected to the wildlife, though not all of his friends understand it.

When he posted about trapping on Facebook or talked about it at work, some friends gave him a hard time. They called it “cruel” and accused Donnie of being “a caveman.” Some said they hoped he would “get caught in his own trap.”

So he shot a video putting his hand in a trap to show everyone it wasn’t cruel. The video has received more than 87,000 views as of this article’s publication.

Trapping is a type of hunting that’s as ingrained in our American heritage as almost any other tradition. The fur trade was the foundation of America’s westward expansion. Born and raised in Southern Utah, Leonard hunted and trapped with his father on the thousands of BLM acres available there. Then he left trapping for a while and he moved to the more populated area of Ogden in Northern Utah. Eventually trapping drew him back out, and he’s been at it for the last five years in the mountains outside Ogden.

“Trapping helps me scout for my hunting seasons and I enjoy shed hunting, too,” said Leonard, a 30-year-old purchaser for a trailer manufacturing company. “It’s a reason to get me outdoors and it is hardwired into my DNA. It gets me back to my roots.”

Perhaps the old traps of a century ago or even as recent as the ’60s or ’70s did hurt animals, but the design of today’s traps simply hold animals until the hunter arrives.

“There are a lot of regulations in place and manufacturers are making the traps with thicker jaws, offset and laminated that are a lot more humane,” said Donnie. Today’s traps do not cut off circulation and they don’t break animals’ bones. “I did the video to prove a point. It doesn’t hurt or break bones.”

It takes an incredible amount of commitment and work to run a set line. They must be checked every day (under most states’ regulations) and that can be hard work, especially on days with challenging weather conditions. But Leonard sticks it out nonetheless.

“I don’t ever want to be alienated from nature,” added Donnie Leonard. “We are a part of nature and have dominion over these animals. We have a responsibility to conserve and manage them as we see fit, with science […] and everything else.”

K.J. Houtman is the author of the award-winning Fish On Kids Books series, chapter books for eight- to 12-year-olds with adventures based around fishing, camping, and hunting. Her work is available at Amazon and local bookstores. Find out more at

Read More