Snare used to trap coyote in McCarthy Woods was unauthorized, City of Ottawa says
Coyote Watch Canada said a volunteer field worker went to McCarthy Woods on Nov. 28 and found the coyote caught around the neck in the snare.
A wildlife organization is urging the City of Ottawa to stop trapping coyotes after one was found caught in a snare trap in McCarthy Woods.
But the city says it only uses humane soft-catch traps and has no ongoing trapping operations. By-law and its partners have “encountered and removed unauthorized traps set in the area by unknown parties,” said Roger Chapman, the city’s director of by-law and regulatory services.
“Residents are reminded that they should not take such matters into their own hands. This type of activity requires extensive training and a license issued by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.”
However, it also appears that trapping coyotes and methods used to trap them have become a jurisdictional tangle.
McCarthy Woods is owned and managed by the National Capital Commission. Anita Tamrazi, a spokesperson for the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, said a licensed trapper had been hired by the city to manage coyotes in various part of the city and on NCC properties. NCC conservation officers were monitoring the traps, she said.
Lesley Sampson, CEO of Coyote Watch Canada, said a volunteer field worker went to McCarthy Woods on Nov. 28 and found the coyote caught around the neck in the snare. The volunteer left and returned, but the coyote was no longer there. The snare was gone and there was blood on the ground, Sampson said.
She believes the snare was a “relaxed cable restraint,” a live-capture cable device approved to hold an animal.
“But you can imagine what it does to an animal,” Sampson said. “That poor animal was very distressed. It was pretty traumatic for our representative to find that coyote.”
Coyote Watch volunteers are dispatched to answer calls about sick or injured coyotes. The group works with a network of wildlife rehabilitation organizations and veterinarians, but it is illegal to release a coyote from a trap set legally.
If she had known the trap was unauthorized, Sampson said, she would have sent a trained team to assess the coyote and transport it for care if necessary. Only a day before that coyote was found in the snare, signs with Ontario’s provincial logo were posted at McCarthy Woods indicating that traps were “in function,” she said.
The portion of the sign usually showing contact information for the trapper had been removed. There was also orange tape marking the location of the snare, which suggested an experienced trapper at work.
In early October, the city asked residents to avoid McCarthy Woods and the hydro corridor along its northern border between McCarthy Road and Riverside Drive during a “wildlife management operation.”
The operation was launched in response to concerns about a coyote or coyotes who showed no fear of humans and had snatched family pets. One group of neighbours saw a small dog carried away.
The city said it was targeting habituated coyotes — those that no longer fear humans — and at least one coyote would be trapped and euthanized if necessary. On Nov. 4, the city said the coyote control operation had been completed and three “highly habituated” coyotes had been live-captured and humanely euthanized for public safety reasons.
On Thursday, Chapman said the city was not engaged in trapping at this time and did not use snares this fall.
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry was aware that homemade signs had been placed in the area advising residents of trapping activities, Tamrazi said. A ministry conservation officer instructed the trapper to remove the Ontario logo.
There have also been severeal reports of a coyote dragging an untethered trap attached to its leg, Sampson said. Those reports started about two weeks ago and came as recently as Wednesday.
Chapman said the city was aware of a coyote in the McCarthy Woods area with a soft-catch trap attached to its foreleg.
“The trap is humane and is specifically designed to not injure the animal. In fact, the coyote is very mobile and there is no damage to its leg. This type of scenario does occasionally happen during trapping operations,” Chapman said.
“This specific trap had been unaccounted for at the end of the wildlife management operations in November. It was only several days later that sightings of the coyote with the trap on its leg were reported to by-law. We are actively working with our partners to capture the coyote.”
Karolyn Singlehurst, a Riverside Park South resident, said there had been recent coyote sightings in the neighbourhood, include one very large animal about the size of a husky.
Singlehurst said she knew three coyotes had been trapped and euthanized, but did not known trapping was still underway and was also worried about traps being in McCarthy Woods. “Kids go into the woods to play,” she said.
She also doesn’t want to see coyotes trapped in snares. “It’s totally inhumane. The suffering would be awful.”
Both the signs and the orange tape were gone on Thursday afternoon.
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