Connecticut is a progressive state in so many ways. We have great schools, health care and a thriving cultural sector. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and his staff work hard to maintain the excellent quality of life that we as residents enjoy.

Unfortunately, the wonderful wildlife that populates our state is threatened because of an arcane law that permits property owners to set leg hold traps.

I serve on the board of directors of the Humane Society of the United States. Its position is that leg hold traps are medieval devices that inflict horrible pain on whatever animal they catch.

The poor animal struggles to get free, which causes lacerations, torn ligaments and other injuries.

This was evident on Jan. 13, when a red fox was caught in leg hold trap set by a nuisance wildlife control operator for a landowner on Brisco Road in New Canaan. It was set to catch coyotes, but as HSUS notes, many animals get caught in traps, including hawks, owls, raccoons, bobcats, fishers, dogs and cats. The fox was set free, but only after an outraged neighbor intervened.

New Canaan Animal Control Officer Allyson Halm was monitoring the situation and confirmed no violations occurred.

However, she said, “In my 40-year career in animal welfare, these traps represent blatant cruelty to wildlife. While leg hold traps are legal, we may want to look for more compassionate ways to live with the abundant wildlife in New Canaan.”

Wildlife in Crisis, based in Weston, receives dozens of calls regarding wildlife caught in leg hold traps and suffering horrific injuries.

Peter Reid, Assistant Director of Wildlife in Crisis, said, “These traps are indiscriminate and inhumane. Birds of prey are attracted by the meat and often severely injured. Coyotes are part of our ecosystem. Trapping them will not eradicate them. If you kill a coyote, another one will replace that animal. It is like trying to bail out the ocean.”

Wildlife in Crisis has rescued countless numbers of animals caught in leg hold traps. But this is a daunting task for a small nonprofit run by volunteers.

There are countless nuisance wildlife control operators, who will gladly charge homeowners a fee to trap and kill animals. So this is a lucrative industry for them, as it is against the law to relocate the trapped animal: They must be released onsite or killed.

It is the hope of Wildlife in Crisis that this latest incident will mobilize the residents of New Canaan to reach out to First Selectman Rob Mallozzi (203-594-3000) and begin the process of outlawing leg hold traps in the town. HSUS believes the town should lead the state in banning the leg hold trap so it is not used by intolerant landowners with vendettas against native wildlife.

There are more humane ways to address any problems landowners may be having with wild animals, and groups such as Wildlife in Crisis and the HSUS can assist those who wish to address such problems at their source, rather than trying to trap and kill any animal that comes along, which is cruel and futile.

We need to come together as a town to ban leg hold traps. Don’t wait until your dog or cat is ensnared in this inhumane device to step forward and do something on behalf of New Canaan wildlife.

Cathy Kangas, of New Canaan, is CEO and founder of PRAI Beauty, a global skin care line sold on home shopping networks. She is a member of the board of directors of the Humane Society of the United States. She can be reached at