Vernon escapes trap ban dispute

City of Vernon insists it doesn't have authority to ban animal traps

The City of Vernon insists it does not have the authority to ban animal traps.

A legal opinion indicates any attempt to prohibit traps within city limits would supersede existing provincial rules on the devices.

“It’s provincial legislation and as a municipality, we have no jurisdiction,” said Mayor Rob Sawatzky.

The city consulted with a lawyer after the Association for the Protection of Fur Bearing Animals demanded a ban on traps to prevent what it says is cruelty against animals and a safety risk to pets and children.

However, the B.C. Trappers Association lobbied against a ban, saying traps are needed among licensed operators to handle problem wildlife. Conservation officers have stated a city bylaw would only duplicate actions the province has already taken.

While it will not get directly involved in the issue, the city wants the provincial government to clarify who can acquire and use traps.

“There’s no consistency with the provincial regulations,” said Coun. Juliette Cunningham.

Provincial rules state that only licensed individuals can use traps for animal control, but there have been reports of residents setting them out on their property.

“Anyone can buy a trap and they don’t need a license to do it,” said Cunningham, who wants the rules tightened so a license is needed to buy the devices.

Other communities have apparently banned traps, but Cunningham isn’t sure how they have done it given the legal advice Vernon received.

“At this point it’s not clear if other communities that have a bylaw went through the province to do something,” she said.

The city is also investigating how to create public awareness over humane options for dealing with problem wildlife, such as live trapping.

“Something as simple as a flyer in a utility bill could be effective,” said Coun. Mary-Jo O’Keefe.