Michael Howie, spokesperson for the animal welfare non-profit The Fur-Bearers, says some simple changes to regulations around trapping in B.C. could prevent the accidental death of pets and keep trappers from earning a bad reputation. (Sean Howard photo)

B.C. needs to update laws to protect pets from dying in snare traps: Animal activists

The Fur-Bearers advocate for new rules on setting traps near public areas

A group committed to the protection of animals in Canada says regulations around the use of snare traps in B.C. need an update to prevent domestic pets from being killed.

Since 1953, The Fur-Bearers, based in Vancouver, have worked to promote co-existence with wildlife and advocate against the use of lethal traps.

Spokesperson Michael Howie says there is a trend in B.C. of several pets falling victim to snare traps each year, including the recent death of a Salmon Arm man’s dog Molly, a mixed-breed husky who was caught in a coyote snare for an entire day and died due to injuries caused by the trap.

“The best place to start is that we have information from a briefing note we obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request that indicated the B.C. government was aware over a 10-year period that approximately eight pets were killed by traps every year in B.C.,” Howie says.

READ MORE: Salmon Arm man loses dog to coyote snare within city limits

READ MORE: Wildlife photographer turns lens on wolves killed with neck snares

When it comes to regulations surrounding the use of traps in B.C., they are old laws that in some cases have not been updated recently.

Howie says these dated regulations allow for situations where pet owners are not aware of the potential dangers, leading to accidents.

“There is no law requiring any kind of warning to other people that trapping is going on,” he says. “This comes up all the time, and we have been asking for warning signs for several years.

“When we look at these cases, often people had no idea traps were even legal let alone that traps were being used in the area.”

In B.C., regulations on trapping state that lethal or harmful traps such as snares can only be placed on property with permission from the owner, and must be 200m from the nearest neighbouring residence.

However, this does not account for things like shared green spaces without clearly defined property lines.

READ MORE: B.C. veterinarian wants 2,900-km wildlife death trap removed

READ MORE: Advocate questions use of traps after raccoon gnaws paw off

“We are just saying when there is an obvious, publicly used trail or piece of land, if it is recognized in the community as somewhere people go with dogs off leash, what we are asking for is large visible signs at reasonable entry points to these trails,” he says. “We don’t want a sign on every trap, just something saying that traps are in use in this area, and to please use caution.”

Howie and The Fur-Bearers also advocate for regulations increasing the distance traps can be set from walking trails with public access, noting they have received reports of traps placed within feet of a trail. They believe that these simple changes to regulation on trapping in the province would keep more pets safe, and also prevent trappers from getting a bad reputation when accidents happen.

“I think common sense needs to take over, these regulations have not been meaningfully updated in so long,” Howie says. “As much as there is an argument to be made for traditional ways of life, you have to recognize there are more people, fewer wild spaces, and we are going to come into contact more often. Policy should represent that.”

READ MORE: Conservation group blasts B.C. for targeting predators to protect sheep

READ MORE: The story of Snowball, the dog saved from a leg trap


 

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Wire snare traps such as this are frequently used when trapping small game and pests, and can cause severe injury to animals caught in the trap. They tighten as the animal struggles, making it especially dangerous if caught around a dog’s neck. (File photo)

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