An animal protection group wants Abbotsford to ban all leg-hold traps after a coyote found ensnared in one of the devices had to be euthanized after languishing for days with a mangled, chewed up and infected leg.
Angela Fontana, animal care supervisor at Critter Care Wildlife Society in Langley, said the animal rescue group got a call Saturday from a family in Abbotsford that found the trapped coyote tangled up in their blueberry field off of Beaton Road in Matsqui Prairie.
"They were really upset. They tried to free him themselves but couldn't," said Fontana.
Critter care staff arrived to find the emaciated coyote, with his paw twisted a full 360 degrees, had tried to gnaw his way out of the padded leg-hold trap, which had also snapped the animals leg bone.
"The bone in his leg was exposed and you could really smell the infection," said Fontana, adding the animal was probably in the trap for more than two days.
The coyote's limb couldn't be saved and the animal had to euthanized, she said.
"He would have lose the leg and wouldn't have survived in the wild, so in his best interests we had to put him down," said Fontana.
Parvinder Pabla, whose family owns the farm where the coyote was found, said they were "sickened" by the animal's suffering.
They never used traps and never had problems with coyotes on the property, he said.
The coyote was not far from their property line, and a long chain attached to the trap had wrapped itself around some blueberry bushes.
The branches were chewed where the coyote had tried to free itself, Pabla said.
"It was really disturbing. My mom was crying," he said.
"What if that was somebody's kid or a dog?"
The family waited two hours for conservation officers to respond before making more calls and finally reaching Critter Care.
The family tried to help the desperate animal but it was too aggressive, said Pabla.
Lesley Fox, executive director for the Association for the protection of Fur-bearing Animals, said that the city and the province should take steps to ban all leg-hold traps.
Using the traps to deal with problem animals or even to harvest fur is widespread in the Lower Mainland, including in urban areas, said Fox.
Although the province is responsible for trapping regulations, the city has the option of banning leg hold devices for safety reasons, said Fox, adding the community of Gibsons has a prohibition in place.
It's perfectly legal for someone to set up a leg hold trap in a community or urban area as long as it's 300 metres from a dwelling, she noted.
"And dwellings include schools or homes. Trapping isn't up north in middle of nowhere. It's right here," said Fox.
"If people knew how leg-hold traps worked and that they were being used near their homes, we'd see an entirely different set of trapping regulations."
Abbotsford City Coun. Patricia Ross said she'd like to see the city investigate the issue further.
"It seems to be awfully dangerous. Children could be caught or family pets," Ross said.
Ross said she doesn't recall a proposal to ban leg hold traps coming before council.
"But that doesn't mean it hasn't been an issue," she said.
"I'd like to explore the issue. It's always good to hear both sides and see what other municipalities are doing and not reinvent the wheel."
In April 2002, a 13-year-old Abbotsford boy had his foot trapped in a city device set in a ravine when he went to explore a beaver dam.
Neighbours who heard his shouts freed him.
The city does occasionally trap beavers under specific circumstances to prevent flooding problems, said Jim Gordon, general manager of engineering.
But the city now hires a licensed trapper that uses underwater Conibear traps, or body-gripping devices designed to kill the animal immediately, said Gordon.
"We looked at relocating beavers but they're territorial animals and it caused problems with animals already in the area," he said.
Ministry of Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource staff confirmed that padded traps for coyotes are legal if set at least 200 meters from a dwelling.
Provincial conservation officers are currently investigating the recent incident in Abbotsford.
- with a file from the Vancouver Sun