A Kimberley resident is warning the community to leash up their dogs during trapping season, after a dog almost died getting caught in a conibear trap.
Martin Brilling of Kimberley is relieved that his dog Jackson is still alive. Jackson was trapped around the neck by a conibear hunting trap in the Matthew Creek area while out for a ski.
“One of our two dogs was recently caught in a conibear trap, and nearly died,” Martin wrote to the Bulletin. “The dogs were nearby and snooping in the bush as we were cross country skiing on an old logging road in the Matthew Creek area near Kimberley, when suddenly Jackson, our older, larger dog (85lbs) started screaming in pain and flailing about in the bush.
“He was caught by the neck in a large conibear trap set about 20 feet off the trail. This size of trap is designed to quickly kill moderately large fur bearers like lynx, otter, wolverine, and coyotes.”
Brilling adds that thankfully, he and his wife had brought along two leashes and were able to cinch the trap springs down enough to open the trap and release their dog.
“Without this procedure, there is no way we would have been able to open the trap. We were very lucky. The trap had closed on his neck and throat. He was in extreme distress and barely able to breathe,” Brilling recounted. “I have no doubt that in a few more minutes he would have asphyxiated. If the trap had closed a few inches forward it would have likely fractured his skull.”
He adds that the trap was baited with raw meat and was inside a wooden box about the size of a small coffee table, open on one end, screened on the other, and situated under the boughs of a large spruce tree.
“There were no warning signs near the trap or anywhere along the trail or roads that we could see leading into the area to indicate that active trapping was occurring,” said Brilling.
Trappers in B.C. are not required to post signage or visibly mark their trap locations. There are several types of traps for holding (foot snare, leg-hold, or box) or killing (deadfall, neck snare, Conibear, submarine trap).
Brilling says that the reason trappers aren’t required to post signage or visibly mark their locations is because their traps are subject to tampering and vandalism.
“That problem could easily be solved with a couple of trail cams to identify who is doing it, then reporting them. Tampering with traps is an offence under the Wildlife Act,” explained Brilling. “I’m sure that there are many trappers out there who diligently put signs up to warn the public of their activities. They do this as a courtesy or best management practice, so I say thank you to them. I believe however that this should be a requirement for all traplines on crown land, in the name of public safety. This is especially true in areas near communities like Kimberley that have many dogs and outdoor enthusiasts. Crown land is public land after all, to be enjoyed by everyone.”
Brilling urges dog owners to carry a leash at all times, and familiarize themselves with how to open a trap, wether it’s a conibear trap or other.
There are many online videos that explain how to open a conibear trap using a dog leash. Brilling says that dog owners should keep their dogs either on leash or very close by, and to always be aware of your surroundings.
“People should be aware that these types of activities are going on in their own backyards (this happened only a few km behind the ski hill, a short drive up the Matthew Creek road),” Brilling urged. “Anyone with dogs would avoid an area or would leash their dogs, if they knew there were baited animal traps around.”