A Salmon Arm man lost his beloved dog, Molly, to a coyote snare trap set on private property within the city.
Jeff Zakus lives along the northeastern edge of Salmon Arm, bordering thick trees and bush shared by several properties in the neighbourhood near 35 Street and 20 Avenue NE. He has taken Molly on walks through the forest near his property for six years, and says many others walk these trails with their dogs. Nothing bad had come of it until last Tuesday.
Zakus and his roommate Sheldon Gray were first concerned when Molly didn’t return home after exploring the bush. The pair set out for one last look in the morning and were shocked by what they found.
Molly was off the trail quite a ways and had been caught with a wire around her neck. While struggling to break free she had caused the wire to tighten further around her neck and cut her mouth badly trying to chew through the wire.
“We found her and those beautiful blue eyes were bugged right out of her head. I bolted back home as fast as I could and got some snips, snipped that line off, got her out of there and brought her home. We thought, okay lets just lie her down and maybe she will be alright. But she wasn’t alright, the breathing was really bad,” Gray says.
While initially hopeful Molly’s condition would improve, Zakus was later told by vets the damage to her throat and complications from oxygen deprivation were too much to recover from.
Conservation officer Tanner Beck responded to the call, and says these traps were legal within the province’s regulations; they were set to address the problem of coyotes killing livestock in the area.
In this particular situation, Beck notes that a lack of communication from the trapper to neighbours, combined with a dog roaming without owner supervision, came together to produce this tragic outcome. Beck said it is the trapper’s responsibility to ensure they are trapping on the property they have permission for but also noted that the dog had travelled quite a distance from home to get into the trap.
Setting traps on private property is legal in B.C., with regulations stating snares cannot be located within 200m of a private residence and must be set by an approved trapper. Because of the 200m restriction Beck says snares are not common within city limits, but the deep bush behind this particular property allowed for legal snare use. Municipalities can prohibit trapping through bylaws, but Salmon Arm has no such bylaw.
While the traps were set legally, Zakus still questions their use within city limits and in an area frequented by pet owners.
“The use of those snares within the city of Salmon Arm, it’s just outrageous, the guy could have easily just put a live trap. Every day people walk their dogs in there. Any dog could have gotten that scent, and people might have no idea where their dog ended up,” he says.