While tragic and unfortunate, there was nothing unlawful about the setting of a wildlife snare that mortally wounded a dog on Crown land near 100 Mile House last month, according to investigators.
Randy McNolty recalls with sadness the details of seeing his dog Almoe, a Rottweiler-Lab cross, die in his arms near his cabin in the Earle Lake area on Jan. 17.
McNolty was on a four-wheeler clearing snow on the Horse Lake Forest Service Road while Almoe followed alongside. Almoe had fended off a bear last year and was always near his master, always protecting him in the remote, wooded area where they lived, McNolty says.
He was about 50 yards ahead of Almoe when he heard a yelp and got off the four-wheeler to investigate. He went back to discover his companion bleeding, twisting and turning in the snow a few metres off the roadway, his neck caught in a snare trap baited with meat.
“He’s pulling so hard there’s blood shooting everywhere out of his mouth,” McNolty recalls.
“I went to get him out of the snare and I couldn’t get him out of the snare and he died in my hands. Blood shot all over me.
“He started pulling so hard and rolling that my hand got caught in the snare in the wire. I couldn’t do nothing.”
McNolty brought the details to the Conservation Officer Service (COS), whose investigation found the trapper in this case was in compliance with the Wildlife Act and cleared the trapper of any wrongdoing.
“It was a completely lawful trap in the location it was at,” explains James Zucchelli, a CO in 100 Mile House.
“It’s really an unfortunate circumstance for everyone involved – the trapper included. It’s definitely not any trapper’s intention to go out and kill domestic dogs.”
Zucchelli says the CO Service typically sees one or two cases like this every year in the Cariboo-Chilcotin. However, not all turn out to be fatal.
“The specific trapper in this case was devastated.”
McNolty wishes the trapper (who he declined to name to help protect his anonymity in the tragic matter) would have warned him about the snares when they were set or put signs up, so he and Almoe could have avoided them.
“He didn’t talk to me. He didn’t talk to any of the neighbours.”
While the British Columbia Trapper’s Association states it encourages its trappers to give notice to locals when they set traps in the area, they are not legally obliged to do so on Crown and.
Trappers say they can’t mark traps for fear of theft and vandalism.
Tampering with lawfully set traps is against the law.
Zucchelli encourages people to keep close watch of their dogs on Crown land and to learn about traps and snares in the event they would have to free their animals from one.
“There is that risk that exists throughout the Cariboo. It’s not like it’s around every corner, but prices of fur have definitely crept up and there are a lot of people getting into trap lines, and trap lines are moving.”
He reminds people if they see any illegal activities related to trapping or problem wildlife to call 1-877-952-7277.