Dead otter in illegal trap

A river otter’s life came to a tragic end in an illegal fishing trap on New Westminster’s waterfront.

George Holm was walking on the boardwalk Sunday when he came upon an upsetting scene.

“An animal control officer was dragging what at first appeared to be a sack with something inside, but as I came closer I saw that it was a three-ring and net minnow trap, and inside it was a dead, fully mature otter,” he said. “Someone had baited the minnow trap and set it in the river by the railway bridge where an otter had then smelled the bait and had swum into the trap. With no exit except for the entrance, and unable to turn itself around, the otter had drowned.”

Holm said there were many families enjoying the nearby playground on Sunday afternoon, and he can only imagine the impression the sight may have had on young children.

City spokesman Aaron Hilgerdenaar said the incident was initially reported reported as being a dead beaver.

“Although we routinely respond to calls of deceased domesticated and wild animals, retrieving a deceased river otter from a trap in the river is not a normal call,” he said.

Murray Smith, Lower Mainland inspector with the B.C. Conservation Officer Service, consulted with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans about the incident.

“This type of trap and fish trapping method are illegal under the federal Fisheries Act," he said.

Anyone with information about the trap is asked to call the B.C. Conservation Officer Services’ Report All Poachers and Polluters (RAPP) line at 1-877-952-7277.

“There are people fishing from the boardwalk almost daily, but they at least use a fishing rod with a line and a baited hook. The person placing the trap in the river, in my opinion, is either too lazy or too greedy to do even that and needs to be identified and stopped before they do it again,” Holm said. 

While this particular trap was intended for fish, it is legal to trap river otters between Nov. 15 and Feb. 28 in the Lower Mainland.

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