A longstanding Vancouver-based animal-protection group is stepping up to support four-legged wildlife injured in White Rock by leg-hold traps.
The Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals (APFA) told Peace Arch News Friday it will offer a $1,000 reward for information leading to the identification and conviction of the individual or individuals responsible for the leg-hold traps that seriously injured a mother raccoon twice in recent weeks.
PAN was first alerted to the leg-hold traps Wednesday by Frank Groff, who lives in the 1400-block of Marine Drive.
According to Groff, the raccoon, which has two babies, had one of its front paws ensnared in the leg-hold trap four weeks earlier, causing it to either gnaw or twist off its paw.
Two days earlier, the same raccoon was seen with another leg-hold trap on one of its back paws.
After a story about the raccoon’s injuries was published in Thursday’s PAN, comments came in from residents who had seen injured raccoons in their neighbourhood.
Longtime Hardie Avenue resident Alice Mitchell said Friday that it has become a frequent sight near her home.
“About this time of year, we see the little guys wandering around, and in the last couple of weeks, in front of our house on Hardie Avenue, so many are coming by that are maimed,” she said. “It’s just disgusting. They have legs torn off and some other traps must be going in, because some have skin and fur torn off.
“They’re just hobbling around, completely maimed.”
Mitchell noted she suspects the traps have been laid in Duprez Ravine near her house, rather than at a residence, because of the noise the injured raccoons make when trapped.
“Who is going to lay a trap by their house? These poor little things, when they’re trapped, scream like babies,” she said.
Mitchell – like Groff – has contacted the SPCA and conservation officers, but said “no one seems to be getting on it.”
Adding to her concerns is the danger the traps pose to off-leash dogs and outdoor cats who often go through the ravine, a popular series of hiking trails on the wooded hillside south of Centennial Park.
“It’s really concerning the neighbourhood,” she said.
Online commenters have also claimed to see raccoons in White Rock missing tails, paws, fur and with injuries to their eyes.
Michael Howie, the APFA’s director of digital content and special projects, said that along with the $1,000 reward, the group has organized a petition – which, as of Monday, had surpassed 5,300 signatures – urging the city to place a prohibition on leg-hold traps.
“The use of these traps in communities is frightening to us, as it likely is to you. Leg-hold, Conibear, snares and other body-gripping traps are designed to hold an animal against its will or kill within five minutes – regardless of the species. Incidents involving endangered or at-risk species, as well as companion animals, are common across the country. Any creature who finds themselves in the grasp of these steel devices must endure days of agony before a trapper returns to ‘dispatch’ them,” Howie explained in an email that was sent Friday to Mayor Wayne Baldwin and council.
“Further, this trap should not have been set for raccoons, nor been able to catch one, under current trapping regulations.”
According to Howie, while the traps are legal in Canada – with a permit – the city can pass a bylaw that will prohibit their use.
“A municipality has the right to protect residents,” he said.
Baldwin responded by email that the petition was referred to city staff Friday.
The city’s communications officer, Shannon Levesque, told PAN the city will be taking steps to educate residents.
“The city will be adding material to our website about wildlife in the neighbourhood, common solutions and advice after sharing (Howie’s) concerns on this raccoon statement,” Levesque said.