Vernon council questions trap ban legalities

The City of Vernon is being extremely cautious before taking a stand on wildlife traps.

Officials are investigating whether the city can legally ban traps in Vernon and what the potential implications of such a prohibition would be.

“We want to be well informed when we make a decision,” said Mayor Rob Sawatzky.

The legal opinion will determine if there are existing rules with the provincial government.

“We want to avoid leaving a public safety concern open but we want to avoid duplication (of service),” said Sawatzky.

A Ministry of Environment employee doesn’t believe there is a need for the city to take action.

“A bylaw will just duplicate the (B.C.) Wildlife Act,” said Josh Lockwood, a local conservation officer.

“Trapping regulations are extensive. People who haven’t taken a certified trapping course can’t use traps. If apprehended, they will be charged.”

In a recent case, a Kelowna resident was fined $1,100 for trapping illegally.

The issue arose at Vernon city hall after the Association for the Protection of Fur Bearing Animals requested a ban on traps, saying they promote cruelty among animals and they put pets and children at risk.

However, the B.C. Trappers Association insists traps are needed among licensed operators to handle problem wildlife.

“When set in a proper manner and a proper location, they are effective as a management tool,” said Pete Wise, who operates an animal control business and is a member of the B.C. Trappers Association.

“They pass international standards (for being humane).”

Wise says there were 86 coyote complaints locally last year and two attacks and traps are necessary.

“When they’re attacking people or dogs, there’s not an option,” he said, adding that trap technology has evolved over the years.

“They are a humane device. They are not devised to break skin or break a leg.”

Wise says the problem isn’t with individuals who are licensed to use traps but those who aren’t and are trying to deal with nuisance wildlife or cats.

He added that conservation officers, the SPCA and the RCMP are mandated to enforce laws involving use of traps.

Coun. Mary-Jo O’Keefe questions if the city needs to proceed with a ban on traps.

“Are we just duplicating services? Are we just increasing our costs?” she said.



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