Black bear freed from leg trap in Coquitlam; reward offered for helping catch the trapper

British Columbia conservation officers freed a black bear from a leghold trap in Coquitlam, and now an environmental group is offering a $1,000 reward to help catch whoever set it.

Shortly before 1 p.m. on April 30, the BC Conservation Officer Service (COS) received a report of a bear whose paw was stuck in the pressure-activated trap set near the Pitt River Boat Club.

The COS said its officers called police to close the nearby trail before tranquilizing the bear to remove the trap and examine the animal for injuries.

The bear was deemed healthy and was quickly moved to a wilderness area outside of town, according to the COS.

The COS has opened an investigation into the incident.

North Vancouver’s Fur-Bearers charity has offered a $1,000 reward for information leading to the identification and conviction of the person responsible.

“Trapping has serious consequences, including undeniable harm to non-target species and associated costs, as we saw last week,” says Lesley Fox, executive director of The Fur-Bearers. “This award shows that we – and the people of British Columbia – take illegal trapping seriously and will not accept it in 2024.”

Although leghold traps are banned in many countries around the world and in several U.S. states, immobilization traps are still legal across Canada. Only traps with metal legs and teeth are prohibited.

Municipalities, for their part, have the possibility of prohibiting their use on their territory, and Coquitlam did so through a by-law in 1979.

The regulation cited animal cruelty when prohibiting all people, businesses and corporations from setting these types of traps. Convictions carry a $500 fine.

Exemptions are only granted to municipal employees or agents of the British Columbia Fish and Wildlife Branch in the course of their duties.

Furbears are warning anyone in the area to be on the lookout for traps, particularly warning dog walkers, families, bird watchers and cyclists.

“This disturbing incident is a sign of the need for reforms to trapping and the way traps are purchased in Canada,” the Fur Bearers website states.

Furbears are calling for an outright ban on leghold traps. They are joined by the American Veterinary Association, the American Animal Hospital Association, the World Veterinary Association, the National Animal Control Association and the Sierra Club.

Traps typically target foxes, coyotes, raccoons, wolves, lynx and bobcats and are placed in areas where the animals frequently pass.

Furbears say that once an animal is trapped, they often become so desperate that they resort to chewing or wringing the caught limb.

“The animals endure a painful, panic-filled period until they die from exhaustion, blood loss, predation, dehydration, hypothermia, or are bludgeoned, suffocated, or trampled to death by the trapper (so as not to damage the skin),” the Fur Bearers website states.

Patrick Penner, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Tri-Cities Dispatch