Hiker angry snares set within city limits

Colin MacLean
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‘He doesn’t realize it, but he’s baiting family pets’

The results of where an animal caught in a snare in the City of St. Johns was trapped and gnawed through a small tree. — Submitted photoRobert Emberley holds a snare he found recently in one of the wooded areas in the city of St. John's. — Photo by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram

Mount Pearl resident Robert Emberley was walking a familiar hiking route Tuesday when he literally stumbled across something he hoped to never see again.

“I was hoping last year was a one-time event,” said Emberley.

He was walking along a moose trail on a path off George’s Pond Road in St. John’s Tuesday when he came across a trail of meat leading into a small clearing in the brush.

Following the meat, Emberley suddenly got his foot caught in a snare.

After untangling his foot, Emberley examined the snare and found that it was one of two in the clearing — and that wasn’t all. Something had obviously been caught in the metal cable trap recently. Branches and trunks within about a metre of the cable’s reach had been gnawed to bits and the area was well trampled. Emberley also found a few spots of blood nearby.

Whatever animal had been caught in the first snare was gone, said Emberley, either taken by whoever set the trap or broken free and gone off into the woods. He searched, thinking the creature might be injured somewhere, but found nothing.

Emberley’s major concern is that whoever set these snares might not realize the danger they’re presenting for pets such as dogs.

Given the trail of meat and the size of the snare’s hoop, he surmised the trapper was going for coyotes or foxes.

Even though the area around George’s Pond is about as remote as you can get and still be in the City of St. John’s, it’s a place that is frequented by people walking their pets, he said.

“In this area I’ve seen people walking huskies, German shepherds, beagles, you name it. People let the dogs run free because you’re in the woods,” he said.

And Emberley has a good idea what the results are when a pet gets caught in a snare.

This time last year, Emberley was walking along the same trail and found another set of snares about 50 feet from where he found them this year.

But last year the trap wasn’t empty — a young beagle had been caught.

The dog’s head and hind leg were in the snare. Eventually the dog let Emberley get close, but he couldn’t untangle the trap. He called the RNC for help and a couple of officers came out with some wire cutting pliers and freed the dog.

They took it to Sunrise Animal Clinic for treatment. It didn’t have any identification, so it ended up at humane services for a couple of months before being handed over to Beagle Paws, a local beagle rescue centre.

Michelle Lethbridge is a resident of Mount Pearl and sits on the executive board of Beagle Paws — she also happens to be the foster mom of the dog Emberley found snared She’s had him for almost a year now, and named him Pearcy.

“He’s a really good dog. He’s just nervous at times,” she said.

Pearcy’s story had a happy ending, but Emberley is concerned that if people keep trapping within the city the next animal might not be so lucky.

It’s a concern Terry Fitzpatrick shares. He’s a resident of Mount Pearl, but he regularly walks with his dogs all over the region and he runs into snares regularly.

“You can name just about any place around here in the woods and you’re going to find snares. I walk with my dogs every single day of the year ... and there’s snares everywhere,” said Fitzpatrick.

But Fitzpatrick said he has never found a large, meat-baited snare like the one Emberley found, and has only ever found smaller ones for catching rabbits.

That’s not to say he’s never had a problem with them.

“I’ve taken dogs, birds, you name it out of them. ... My wife a few years ago, one of our dogs got caught in one of them and she tried to pull it to get it off of him. Well, those things are razor sharp and she ended up cutting all across the palm of her hand,” he said.

Stories like that are not what trappers want to hear, said Hayward Smith, a long-time trapper from Norman’s Cove and a director/volunteer with the Newfoundland and Labrador Trappers Association.

Licensed trappers have to go through a training program, said Smith, and during that process they are discouraged from trapping in populated areas, in a direct attempt to minimize contact with domestic animals. Snares are also supposed to be marked with flagging tape.

“We try to refrain from snaring in places where there are walking trails, but some trappers still do it and they sort of make the whole thing look bad,” said Smith.

“I don’t like the idea of setting snares or traps within the city limit, although there is no law saying that you can’t do it,” he added.

In Newfoundland and Labrador licensed trappers have to adhere to established seasons and follow regulations for allowable species and types of traps — but there is no legislation dictating where a snare can be set, except for a few protected areas.

Cities have no control over the practice because it’s outside their jurisdiction. Trappers are supposed to take a common sense approach.

A notice in the 2011/2012 hunters’ and trappers’ guide for the province mentions urban trapping, asking trappers “when setting traps near communities or residential areas to act responsibly and take into account local activities such as pet walking.”

While Smith said trapping in cities is discouraged, he also suggested pet owners should protect their pets by keeping a close eye on them.

“People are supposed to have leashes on their dogs when they walk in these walking trails, but they don’t, they just let their dogs go free,” he said.

He also reminded people that tampering with a trapper’s snare is against the law and punishable by a minimum fine of $400.

The trappers’ handbook states residents should instead report untended/illegal snares to a conservation officer.

Meanwhile, Emberley intends to keep a closer eye on the areas he hikes.

To whoever set these traps, he said, “It’s not worth it. ... Basically, he doesn’t realize it, but he’s baiting family pets.”


Organizations: Sunrise Animal Clinic

Geographic location: Mount Pearl, Pond Road, Newfoundland and Labrador

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Recent comments

  • mj
    December 05, 2011 - 07:37

    My animals are always under my supervision at all times; I have a well fenced garden, when I'm outside they are on leashes, and when I have to leave them they are behind locked doors in my home. But i do think the horrible pain experienced by animals caught in traps should be enough ammunition for some govt. body to have the practice outlawed!

  • Michaela
    December 02, 2011 - 20:34

    Let's see how fast Mr. Emberly changes his tune when he is next out on the trails and ends up being faced down by a pack of coyotes .I guarantee he will be the first one on the phone to get a trapper or hunter out there to remove these nusance animals from his walking trail . If you don't like seeing trapping stay on the Great Concourse and out of the woods

  • Grant
    December 02, 2011 - 14:22

    People need to understand that the "city limits" of St. John's covers a massive area and a lot of wilderness. There is quite a bit of hunting that goes on inside city limits. Is it illegal to let your dog run off leash in city limits? If so, the hiker with the dog is the one breaking the law. Trappers have rights, but they should use common sense and not snare near popular walking areas. I doubt the place talked about in this story is a popular walking area.

  • Chris
    December 02, 2011 - 10:26

    Our local politicians need to get this trapping business stopped ASAP. Why should so few people who trap be able to kill whatever domesic animals and pets they want. Traps don't pick their prey, they simply kill everything and anything

  • sunny
    December 01, 2011 - 22:10

    It saddens me that the majority of comments are protecting the evil hunters rights to snare,trap and kill animals in our forests. 'Keep your dogs on a leash'. Nice. So animals, walkers & pets cannot enjoy the wild beauty of our forest for fear of snares and cruel traps, but hunters have free licence to do as they please? Something is wrong with this picture and I for one am disgusted. Ban hunting, people to who kill for sport. Disgusting.

  • Treehugger
    December 01, 2011 - 19:14

    So, what's the issue here? The trappers gear is set legally so the guy in the picture should be fined for tampering with trapping gear. People need to have control over their animals and that's that. If someone is not comfortable with an area, stay out of it until trapping season's over. Just because you find a snare while walking (or running) your dog doesn't mean it's set to catch a dog nor does it give you the right to tear it up or take it. Trapping equipment is expensive and in general is hard work. Leave it alone, it doesn't belong to you. Your in the woods where you can't do whatever you like. Do your dog a favor, keep it by your side.

  • No Snares
    December 01, 2011 - 17:29

    We don't need snares. We need to import the honey badger to deal with the coyote problem. Honey badger would eat the coyotes no problem.

  • steve
    December 01, 2011 - 17:26

    i don,t own a dog but i love ripping out snares.

  • Seriously
    December 01, 2011 - 14:46

    Frankly it's the idea of all those irresponsible people walking their dogs without leashes that makes me the most angry. I'm tired of trying to take a peaceful walk along one of the trails or in a public park only to have some dog come up to me acting as if I'm it's next meal. Either keep the mutts on a leash or take them to one of the dog parks. If one gets caught in a trap or snare because the owners are too irresponsible to follow the laws and keep them on a leash - oh well. Maybe next time they'll be a better owner and keep both their pet and the public safe by keepng it on a leash.

  • John
    December 01, 2011 - 14:11

    For WTFF, Georges Pond is within the Signal Hill National Historic Site. You are NOT permitted to hunt, trap or even remove plants, fauna, berries, etc. Asell, ALL pets are to be leashed when in the boundaries of the site. Common sense by all needs to prevail. If you are anywhere and are unsure, it's just a question of asking if trapping/snareing is allowed in the area you plan to be in.

    • Brad
      December 01, 2011 - 15:07

      While you may be correct, I think the George's Pond discussed in the article is the George's Pond located between Kenmount Road and Blackmarsh Road, not the one near Signal Hill. It says he was walking along a moose trail on a path off George's Pond Road---George's Pond Road is off Blackmarch Road.

    • clay
      December 02, 2011 - 10:20

      The days of trapping should be long gone. - we don't live in the 1800s anymore. Trapping needs to be permanently banned in the entire province

    December 01, 2011 - 12:29

    this picture makes me laugh every time hahaha what a jewel. Sorry sir hate to rain on your parade but we are allowed to set snares whether you like it or not, take a hike pal.

  • jason
    December 01, 2011 - 11:47

    Both Hunters and Non hunters need to use common sense ( not so common these days) Hunting has been around since the beginning of the human race and will be here until the end. People that say its cruel really need to reexamine that mindset as population control is needed and hunting is part of the natural way to control it. Just look at the explosion of our Moose population even with hunting. Trappers and Snare setters also have to have some common sense and avoid areas that are used buy people and even other hunters. If they set traps and snares they have to clearly mark them and maybe should even be required to put signage up in the areas. People should also not allow their animals to roam free on trails inside city limits that are used by hikers etc.

  • Mister Thud
    December 01, 2011 - 10:32

    I agree with Duffy. What kind of sick, twisted idiot needs to kill animals in the first place? It's a tradition? Start a new one by joining evolution.

  • Dennis B.
    December 01, 2011 - 10:32

    I am a trapper and I've been enjoying this activity all my life. It makes me cringe every time I read these stories about watery eyed dog owners who feel the world has wronged them because they let their pet stray and it got into trouble. To my knowledge, it hasn't happened here yet, but an unpleasant confrontation between coyote and dog walker/hiker is coming. We'll see who'll be crying loudest then. I admit, in an area frequented by other outdoor users, it's in a trappers best interest to stay out of it. At the very least, you gear will be stolen. The guy in the picture appears like he thinks he's doing some sort of public service. Well, when the days of coyote over population are upon us, who will be called upon for service? Trappers, that's who.

  • Urban bayman
    December 01, 2011 - 09:29

    We carry a wire snip with us all the time as we have encountered some snares that don't release, similar to a pull tie. As the animal pulls it gets tighter and tighter. When in an area that is frequented and often used by people walking their dogs the hunters don't use common sense, and therefore someone has to do the right thing!!!

  • TrapperCBS
    December 01, 2011 - 08:56

    I'm sorry sir but if you dont like the idea of snares, dont take your dogs in the woods, and dont walk down what looks like could be a rabbit run if you dont want your feet caught in a snare. Its the woods, it doesnt matter if its in city limits, or within the limits of another town. Nothing was done wrong here so your just going to have to suck it up. Now im not familiar with georges pond, so if this is a city groomed "walking trail" like that of pippy park maybe there shouldnt be snares there, but if it is simply just a popular place to walk well thats just too bad.

  • Michael
    December 01, 2011 - 08:27

    I'd just like to make the comment, that yes trapping in city limits is bad, BUT, letting your dog run loose in an area visited by public is also dangerous. There have been several incidents where other dogs have killed smaller dogs or attacked small children. Dog's should not be allowed to run free on a public trail either. It would seem that law enforcement should step in and say enough is enough. I was attacked by a dog as a child, walking a similar trail, and yes the owner was present, but had no restraint on their animal. In the end the husky that attacked me was put down, although as a kid i was tramatised by the incident and will probably never own a dog.

  • Bayman
    December 01, 2011 - 07:39

    Keep your pets on a leash. Simple. Setting slips (snares) has been done for YEARS. One as large as the one in the picture could be for setting coyotes, what with the bait and all. Coyotes are a danger to pets. If people would keep their pets on a leash, they wouldn't risk them getting caught in a snare. Larger snares that are there to snare coyotes, help to reduce the number of coyotes in the province, which is a benefit to pets and residents. When I was a kid we'd let our pet dog (a beagle mix) run off his leash all the time, even from home. One time he got in a rabbit slip (snare), and was delayed coming home, as the poor thing was struggling to get clear. He almost lost his paw. OUR fault, as we shouldn't have let him run free. The law for firearms is that they cannot be discharged within 300m of a dwelling, or 1000m of an athletic facility or playground. If you're allowed to discharge a firearm in the woods, you should certainly be allowed to set snares. However sound judgement should be exercised, and setting snares on a walking trail should obviously be avoided.

  • Bernie
    December 01, 2011 - 07:25

    I suggest you when walking in that area to keep your pets on a leash according to the rules and regulations, after all you are still in the city and that is the law. Your complaint to an area you describe as "George’s Pond is about as remote as you can get and still be in the City of St. John’s" is as insane as the recent ruling by an Ontario school to ban balls on the playground because someone got hit with a ball!!

  • Duffy
    December 01, 2011 - 07:18

    It is the old way of life vs the newer generations where animals are respected. It is hard to see or visulize an animal "stangling" to death in a wire hangmans noose fighting for their life - dog or rabit or fox. BUT like clubing Seals the ole timers will not change to "kill" traps until forced and will set them in your back yard. The government is useless in this area like the "we are going to review this" explanation year after year as the Innu slaughter Caribou from the roads = protected or not. Wonder why sometimes people from away look at us ?