Cat caught by leg-hold trap

A young cat recently limped back to its home in downtown Kelowna with a leg-hold trap clamped to its tiny leg.

Nova's owner was outraged that someone would leave a trap lying around the city centre, but it may have been perfectly legal to do so. 

On Jan. 26, Jenny Giesbrecht's daughter found their nine-month-old cat in the backyard, with a leg-hold trap attached to its front paw.

Giesbrecht was able to get the device off Nova, and luckily, the cat was back to its normal self the following day.

“He wouldn't put any weight on it and just laid and slept for about 24 hours,” Giesbrecht said. “There was no open wounds or bones protruding or any reason to think that we required a vet at that point.

"The next day, he was walking around on it and attacking everyone as usual.”

Adrian Nelson of the Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals says he sees this happening “quite a bit.”

Through a Freedom of Information request, the advocacy group found the province is aware of 85 instances of pets being caught and killed in traps since 2003.

In B.C., leg-hold traps can be placed within city limits by a licensed trapper, as long are they are not within 200 metres of a home. These traps are generally used to catch “nuisance animals,” like raccoons or rats.

“They can be put on private property, Crown land, public land, as long as it's a licensed trapper, who holds a valid licence,” said Nelson. “As well, land owners can place traps on their own property for so-called nuisance wildlife.”

Giesbrecht lives on Cawston Avenue, but has no idea where Nova could have stumbled upon the trap.

“I don't know why it was there,” she said. “It's too big for a rat to set off, and we have a lot of rats downtown.”

The province's Fish, Wildlife and Habitat Management Branch says the 200-metre rule for leg-hold traps has been sufficient, but it is “open to review should there be emerging circumstances.”

Nelson says his group would eventually like to see an end to trapping in Canada, but at the bare minimum, he says warning signs should be implemented near traps, and identification tags should be required on all traps.

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