Warning: This story contains images that are graphic and may be offensive to some readers.
The Fur-Bearers is offering a $1,000 reward to identify who is responsible for setting the foot-hold trap that left a raccoon dragging itself in it for days — leaving the animal emaciated, dehydrated, and with a visibly broken leg.
The animal had to be humanely euthanized after it was evaluated by Critter Care.
The (approximately) three-year-old raccoon was found by a resident in the suburban area of 46A Avenue in the Ladner community of Delta on Friday May 3, and then was taken to Critter Care Wildlife Society — where it was determined he was septic and had to be put down, according to the Fur-Bearers.
In a phone interview with Daily Hive Vancouver, Fur-Bearers spokesperson Michael Howie said “the injuries were significant,” adding, “if you look at the images, which I don’t necessarily advise, you can see that his one leg had been clearly and visibly broken and was barely hanging on by some tendons I think — so it was a pretty horrific case.”
“It’s hard to wrap your mind around the volume of suffering this animal must’ve endured to simply try and stay alive — that in itself is deeply disturbing,” Howie said.
Howie said it’s still not clear if the model, or the instance of the trap, were legal — however traps like this are legal in BC and across Canada — but Delta bylaw agents are investigating to find out if this trap was set illegally.
“We don’t know why [the trap was set]. We don’t know what they were targeting, we don’t know if they’re a licensed trapper or if they’re not a licensed trapper — at this point it almost doesn’t matter, again someone put out that trap with the intent of harming at least one animal — and they certainly succeeded in that,” he said.
“The intent of this [the reward] is to drive the investigation but also to have people think about it, as I’ve said before, in small towns there’s a good chance someone said something to someone else who overheard it, or saw something earlier in the week — and if all of those people send in their bits of information that can paint a very clear picture for investigators,” said Howie.
Howie said now the Fur-Bearers is calling on the municipality to take action by considering enacting a bylaw prohibiting the use of these “dangerous traps that also pose risks to dogs and cats, children, and any animal that encounters them,” and offering the City wildlife co-existence education material — asking residents in the area to do the same.
We can do better
The Fur-Bearers said it continues to hear from people that have no idea these traps are legal in Canada, and while those traps are legal in BC, questions remain about the specific model.
Howie said similar traps are legal in almost every jurisdiction in Canada — except for where municipalities have “taken a stance and said ‘we can do better’ when it comes to co-existing with wildlife.”
“There are ways to coexist with wildlife — whether it is in an urban setting or on a farm. Setting out traps that will cause suffering will do one thing alone and that is cause suffering. They will not resolve wildlife conflicts: they will not prevent property damage or loss to anyone, all they will succeed in doing is what they were designed to do — and that is hold an animal against their will and that means suffering,” Howie said.
Trapping guidelines in BC
In an emailed statement, the Ministry of Forests said incidents such as this one with the raccoon found in the leg-hold trap in Delta are very unfortunate.
It said whether a municipality has authority to make trapping-related bylaws will depend on what trapping issue the bylaw is addressing. In an urban environment, leg-hold traps are legal if they are at least 200 metres away from a residence and can be used to control nuisance.
General trapping guidelines:
Individual permits are not required beyond the usual trapping licence during regular trapping seasons, however, the municipality and/or landowner needs to give their permission.
The ministry suggests contacting the municipality in question if trapping occurred inside their municipal limits.
It’s illegal to use a leg-hold trap which has teeth, or other projections on the jaws of the trap, and a licence or permit holder (or other authorization to trap) commits an offence unless that person examines the holding or non-killing traps they set on a trapline at least once every 72 hours, the egg trap(s) they set for raccoons at least once every 24 hours, and killing traps or killing snares set on the trapline at least once every 14 days.
A trapper on private property commits an offence unless that person examines the holding or non-killing traps he or she has set at least once every 24 hours.
It’s an offence to trap a fur-bearing animal, and if the animal is alive when the trap is checked — fail to immediately release or kill the animal.
All calls about suspected violations should go to the COS Report All Poachers and Polluters (RAPP) line: 1-877-952-7277.
City of Delta Spokesperson Kaare Coupar said the capture of the raccoon would have been an offence under the Wildlife Act and Delta’s existing Animal Control bylaw “allowing an animal to suffer,” and adds the use of leg-hold traps in the city has not been an issue.
Coupar said the city will be reviewing its existing bylaws to “determine if they are sufficient to prevent further incidents of this nature.”
He said farmers in the area of South Delta may have to trap nuisance animals on occasion that block irrigation ditches or prey on domestic livestock — but employ professional licensed trappers, “the unfortunate incident with the trapped raccoon appears to be the work of an individual unfamiliar with the trapping profession.”
Coupar said residents with problem wildlife are referred to humane wildlife control agencies.
Warning: The photos below contains images that are graphic and may be offensive to some readers.