For centuries, trappers, inventors, naturalists, and biologists have searched for animal traps that met a variety of criteria, such as efficiency and durability. And, for at least the last century, individuals and organizations have fostered a movement that declares traps as inhumane, adding another criterion to the search. Trapping animals for fur, particularly for European markets, played an important role in the history, exploration, and settlement of North America, depressing the populations of some furbearer species almost past the point of recovery. Recovery of animal populations depressed through trapping, market hunting, and habitat loss became one of the first major partnership efforts among U.S. states and federal agencies in the developing science of wildlife management. Regulated trapping continues to be an important means for managing abundant furbearer populations, although the vagaries of fur markets and restrictive legislation in a number of states have made this an increasingly difficult task. For more than 50 years, scientists at the USDA Wildlife Services National Wildlife Research Center and its predecessors have engaged in cooperative research to improve animal traps and trapping systems. In the past decade, a series of actions culminated in the establishment of a national program to evaluate traps according to several criteria, including international standards for animal welfare, in order to develop guidelines for best management practices for trapping furbearers. This paper will briefly review the history of U.S. federal trap research and the status of the cooperative trap testing program.