A leghold trap is a spring-operated steel trap with jaws that snap closed when an animal steps into it, clamping the animal's leg or other appendage securely. Some leghold traps are padded with thin strips of rubber in an effort to make the traps more humane.
Leghold traps cause instant pain, fractured bones, lacerations, torn muscles and tendons, and blood loss. Animals often incur damage to their mouths and teeth as they struggle to free themselves from the traps, and they frequently die of starvation, thirst, exposure and/or shock. Leghold traps are frequently set to catch pests, such as coyotes, skunks and raccoons, but studies and anecdotal evidence indicate that nontargeted animals, including pets, are caught in these traps more frequently than the targeted animals.