Group renews call for trapping and snaring ban on P.E.I. after dog death

An animal rights group is calling, once again, for a ban on trapping and snaring on P.E.I. That's after a dog died in a beaver trap last week.

Trappers say they are needed to deal with nuisance animals

Camille Labchuk with Animal Justice says this is a victory for pigs. (CBC )

An animal rights group is calling, once again, for a ban on trapping and snaring on P.E.I. That's after a dog died in a beaver trap last week on public land in the western end of the province. 

Camille Labchuk, Executive Director for Animal Justice, thinks the traps are inhumane. 

"All these traps are designed to do one thing — restrain or kill an animal, and you can't do that in a nice way."

Cooper died last week after being caught in a Beaver trap. (Submitted by Lynda Fortin)

"The very best way to protect people from these cruel devices is to ban trapping on P.E.I. completely, but at the very least there should be severe restrictions on where devices can be placed, including an absolute ban on public land," said Labchuk. 

"We should all have the right to walk with our animals, to walk by ourselves, with our children, on these properties that belong to us, without the fear."

Labchuk also agrees with the dog owner in this most recent case — that the traps should have signage, alerting people to the locations. 

'We don't just lay traps out anywhere'

But trappers say notifying the public about where traps are located, can cause problems. 

"If we had a system where we posted some form of notification ... there's all kinds of people that go out and tamper. We literally call the conservation officers weekly with people stealing traps, tampering with traps, which is illegal." said Duncan Crawford, Queens County representative for the P.E.I. Trappers Association. 

Crawford said trappers hate to see animals killed or hurt that weren't intended for the trap, and said trappers set in a way to avoid that situation. 

"Anytime we lay a trap or snare, we're targeting a very specific animal, we don't just lay traps out anywhere," he said.

"We have to be thinking you know what's the potential that somebody is going to be walking by and get you know, potentially hooked up in this."  

He says animal owners also have to be responsible for their pets. "I mean if this was an issue we'd be hearing about hikers ... cross country skiers getting caught up in traps and it just doesn't happen. What does happen is dogs off leashes finding their way into traps or snares."

Traps are regulated

Crawford said there are strict regulations to ensure the use of humane traps. 

"Annually, every trap that's in use in North America is subject to the AIHTS which is the Agreement on International Humane Trapping Standards. So every trap, every snare every piece of gear that we use has to be reviewed by an international panel," he said. 

"That's pretty restrictive and means the equipment that we're using is reviewed by ... not only trappers, but government officials, independent panels, people from the fur industry and of course people that are out there for animal welfare."

According to the province there are about 75 active trappers this year but the majority of the work they do is getting rid of nuisance animals, such as the beaver.

"Trappers do provide a valuable service to the province. The province currently spends hundreds of thousands of dollars annually on removal of nuisance beaver and repairing of culverts, roads and stream obstructions," said Wade MacKinnon, Manager of Investigation and Enforcement for the Department of Justice and Public Safety. 

"So without trappers being actively involved, the cost to the province would be higher." 

After a dog died in a snare last year the P.E.I. government did make some changes. It added 800 additional hectares, bringing the total to 3,500 hectares of public land as off limits to trapping and snaring.