After two recent Okanagan incidents involving pets getting stuck in Conibear traps, a B.C. animal protection association is cautioning the public to be vigilant while walking their pets along trails.
The Vancouver-based Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals has been pushing for changes in trapping laws since 1944.
“Ultimately we would love to see trapping banned,” said Adrian Nelson, director of communications for the association.
“There really is no need for it in a modern day society here. At a minimum, we would like to see warning signs posted that there are traps in the area so pet owners and people using those recreational areas can take the appropriate precautions.”
Nelson said their warning to pet owners comes after last year’s “alarming” increase in trapping deaths.
“We had about six incidents reported to us (throughout Canada) in 2011. In 2012 we had 16.”
Nelson said a large percentage of those occurrences are in B.C. On Boxing Day a family dog was killed by a Conibear trap near Nakusp. Weeks before that, a dog was caught in a trap in Oyama.
“It tends to be that dog owners are out for a walk, quite often on forest roads or in park areas. The dog wanders a little bit off trail and goes to investigate whatever the traps have been baited with.”
He added traps can be placed as close as 300 metres from a dwelling.
In previous local news stories, it’s been reported that signs are not posted because of the likelihood the public, who are opposed to trapping, will tamper with the traps.
“This is their argument, which really doesn’t make a lot of sense to us,” said Nelson.
“There is legislation already in place: It is illegal to tamper with a trap or take a trap. So it seems kind of odd that there’s legislation to protect the trappers, but no legislation to protect anybody else.”
Nelson said, for now, the best thing pet owners can do is be vigilant while in rural areas.
“I know people want to go out with their dogs and let them run, but unfortunately during the trap season, it’s kind of important to keep them close by.
“With these (recent) incidents, we’re hoping to be able to push the ministry a little further toward changing the laws.”