Made in six sizes, small ones for mink, the largest for bear, the Oneida-Newhouse leghold trap worked in all conditions; under water or on dry land, no matter the weather.

Oneida traps were widely used both in New England and in the American West. (Image: Project Gutenberg)

First produced in the 1850s in a factory in the wilderness of Western New York, the Oneida steel-jawed trap became a central tool in the nation’s war on predators.

Number one on the list was the wolf. So feared was the animal, the Puritan settlers of the Massachusetts Bay Colony put a bounty on them in 1630. By the middle of the 19th century they’d been exterminated throughout the eastern seaboard.

U.S. Department of Agriculture Year Book 1920.

U.S. Department of Agriculture Year Book 1920.

    The leghold trap became an essential tool for pioneers heading west who took the fear of the beast with them.

    “Evidence that Uncle Sam’s Hunters Get results.” U.S. Department of Agriculture Year Book for 1920.

    Professional ‘wolfers’ hired by stockmen and a fearful settler population — abetted as today by the government — shot, poisoned and trapped wolves in an eradication effort that reached its apex in the early years of the last century, by which time some 55,000 wolves a year were being executed in the Western U.S..

    Over sixty countries have outlawed irrational “predator” control. But not the United States.