Reports of a raccoon in Oak Bay that has lost a paw, possibly in a leg-hold trap, have led to a $1,500 reward being offered to help locate the person responsible.
Several sightings of injured raccoons have been reported in the area around Haultain Street, Kings Road and Epworth Street.
Oak Bay police issued a warning this week that a leg-hold trap might have been set in the municipality after a resident reported seeing a nursing raccoon missing a paw. Oak Bay Police Chief Kent Thom said a trap could also cause injury to children or pets.
Adrian Nelson of the Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals, which put up part of the reward, said his group has a picture of a raccoon missing a front paw taken by an Oak Bay resident.
He said it’s concerning that someone appears to have “taken animal control into their hands.”
The issue of wildlife being targeted arises regularly, Nelson said.
“We do see it every year in various cases,” he said. “We have seen baited traps catch bald eagles. There was a recent incident of a goose in Surrey that slipped into a leg-hold trap.”
A raccoon missing two limbs was found in White Rock about a year ago, he said.
Such injuries can cause considerable suffering and are debilitating for animals, Nelson said.
While it is not known for certain whether there is a leg-hold trap being used in Oak Bay, “the wounds are very common to what we’ve seen in leg-hold traps,” he said.
Thom said the reports are on the police department’s radar.
Police would like to hear from anyone with information, he said. “If the public contacts us or if we see anything on our own, we’re for sure going to act on it.”
Leg-hold traps are legal in B.C., but they can cannot be used within 200 metres of a home or school. Victoria, North Saanich and North Cowichan are among jurisdictions with bylaws banning their use.
“They’re common in municipalities across B.C.,” said the animal association’s Lesley Fox. “Not so much for trapping fur, necessarily, but for nuisance-wildlife control.”
Fox said her group is working with six B.C. municipalities, including Nanaimo, that are looking to prohibit or regulate traps in co-operation with the provincial government.
Oak Bay police ask anyone with information to call them at 250-592-2424 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).
For details on the reward, call the Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals at 604-435-1850.