The practice of using spring-loaded leg traps in Hannibal is putting not only pets, but people at risk, according to the Police Department.

Such traps have recently injured dogs in wooded areas near Bowling Avenue and in the 900 block of Paris Avenue, according to Lt. John Zerbonia of the HPD. In 2013, trapping incidents were reported involving a cat and dog. Their leg injuries were so severe both animals had to have the damaged limbs amputated.

“It’s designed to not only trap the animal’s leg, but also break their leg so it cannot get away. It’s very inhumane,” said Zerbonia, speculating that the person(s) setting the traps are intending to catch wild animals for their fur or meat.

While no reports of people being injured in traps have been received, the potential is there according to Zerbonia, who is particularly concerned for the safety of “small children.”

The use of spring-loaded leg traps is illegal inside the city limits. In fact, according to Section 4-12 of the City Ordinances, no animal traps can be used inside the city limits, with the exception of animal control officers, without the permission of the chief of police.

Zerbonia noted that the city’s animal control officers utilize box traps, which captures animals without harm.

Those caught setting spring-loaded leg traps can count on facing significant fines, especially if animals or people are injured.

“For violating the trapping ordinance it can be several hundred dollars (in fines),” said Zerbonia. “Along with that, animal control officers would probably cite them for animal abuse as well if a domestic animal were to be caught in one. You’d have a couple of hundred dollars for the trapping ordinance and then around $225 for an animal abuse ticket.

“If a person gets hurt in these, which is possible because they’re inside the city limits in wooded areas of neighborhoods, at the very least some degree of assault charge would be brought down on them.”

Thus far HPD has not identified any trap owners.

“Legally the traps are supposed to have ID tags on them so you know who they belong to. But since they’re inside the city and they probably know they’re illegal to have inside the city, there’s no identifying marks that we can trace back to an owner,” said Zerbonia. “It’s still under investigation and we’re doing what we can to discover who owns them.”

Zerbonia asks anyone witnessing a person setting traps or has knowledge of these traps being set inside the city should contact HPD.

“They can do that on our website ( or anonymously on our crime tips line,” he said. “We’d appreciate any help we can get.”