TROOPER  A frightened Trapper nests following the amputation of his leg. Inset: A leg hold trap. Photos by Breanne Massey

TROOPER A frightened Trapper nests following the amputation of his leg. Inset: A leg hold trap. Photos by Breanne Massey


By Breanne Massey

Pioneer Staff

After a cat spent approximately 10 days stuck in an illegal leg trap in Canal Flats, the orange and white felines leg was nearly severed.

The cat, who was later named Trapper by the Invermere Companion Animal Network (ICAN), was found by a Canal Flats resident who reported the injury to ICAN before noon on June 24th and delivered Trapper to an Invermere veterinarian.

We had a call from some people who had a cat in distress that appeared on their doorstep looking for food, said Sylvia Schulz, ICAN vice-president. They discovered that the cat was dragging around a leg hold trap.

Although leg traps are not illegal, Ms. Schulz explained, they are supposed to be registered this one wasnt. ICAN turned it over to conservation officer Lawrence Umzonst.

People who use them for the purpose that theyre supposed to be used for, are supposed to be licensed to set them and use them, she said. Theyre supposed to be used for trapping fur-bearing animals. They should be illegal, but unfortunately theyre not yet.

The leg hold trap, which is also known as a restraining trap, catches the animal by its limb.

The pelts remain unspoiled on animals such as foxes, coyotes, raccoons, wolves, lynx and bobcats by holding its foot in place and keeping the animal alive until a trapper can collect the pelt.

Once triggered, the trap prevents animals from moving, eating, drinking, fighting predators or caring for their babies.

According to the Association For The Protection of Fur Bearing Animals, some wild animals become so desperate to escape that they resort to chewing or wringing off their own trapped limb in order to escape, which often means breaking teeth and bones in the process.

In this case, the damage was already done to the cat by the time he was found.

The people who found (Trapper) managed to get the trap off of his leg, added Ms. Schulz. They put him into a box and I asked them to drive him into the vet, where I met them in Invermere.

Trappers leg was abnormally thin and nearly severed after being caught in the trap for an extended period of time.

Dr. Mark Zehnder, the attending veterinarian who treated Trapper, estimated he had been stuck for at least 10 days.

He was also very, very frightened at the time so we couldnt determine whether (Trapper) was domestic or feral, so we kept him at the Invermere Veterinary Hospital for a couple of nights to try and get some food and fluids into him to get him fit for surgery, said Ms. Schulz. The surgery was going to be an obvious amputation and ICAN decided to go ahead with it if he was fit, so Dr. Zehnder did the surgery when the time came.

We cannot turn him loose as a three-legged cat, said Ms. Schulz. He could be put up for adoption now, but what we want to do, is get him socialized with humans and if theres anybody out there who could work with the cat immediately (to help with that process), and protect him from any further harm, we would certainly adopt him to someone who would look after him.

Trappers health is rapidly improving, but it will take time to rehabilitate and socialize him before hes put up for adoption.

He was in the vet for awhile before we could do surgery on him because he was severely dehydrated and emaciated, explained ICAN volunteer, Lana Banham, who is now watching over Trapper in her home. We need to get his strength up a little bit.

Ms. Banham believes Trapper will get braver over time and remains optimistic that his life will go on with a brighter outlook.

Columbia Valley RCMP Staff Sgt. Marko Shehovac could not comment on the traps or the accident before The Pioneer went to press.