At-risk snapping turtle not the last victim if trapping continues

The term non-target catch refers to anything caught in a trap that wasn’t the intended animal. Unfortunately, traps don’t know how to tell the difference between say, a beaver and an at-risk (special concern status) snapping turtle.

That was just the case in a Hamilton-area conservation system this week. According to the Hamilton Spectator, a hiker came across two traps at the Fifty Point Conservation Area – one with a drowned muskrat, the other with a “barely alive” snapping turtle.

“The traps they used were barbaric, like something out of the dark ages. It's just beyond my understanding,” Alice Willems told The Spectator.

The Conservation Authority board chair, Brian McHattie, said he was unaware that the trapping was ongoing and called for a suspension of the practice until a report can be prepared.

A spokesperson at the Conservation Authority stated that beavers have been trapped in the area for several years due to “habitat destruction.”

It is hard to blame those in this position for calling in a trapper – after all, for over 300 years, that has been the standard response when beavers, or any wild animal, may be cause for concern.

But with the ongoing studies and field work to support the co-existence models now available, it is apparent that more, better options are available. APFA has worked with municipalities across the country to build, implement and provide training on the use of flow devices, exclusion fences and other methods.

APFA is now calling on not just the Hamilton Conservation Authority to ban the use of leg-hold, body-gripping and snare traps, but the City of Hamilton, as well. When other more sustainable, cost-effective and ecologically-sound methods are available, why resort to the cruelty of trapping?

Take Action!

Contact your City of Hamilton Councillor and the Hamilton Conservation Authority to tell them you want to see trapping end – and co-existence begin.

Sample letter:

Dear (Councillor name or HCA contact),

Please put an end to trapping in my community. Beavers are a keystone species that provide numerous ecological benefits. There is no need to kill them or trap them when other, non-lethal methods are available.

Organizations like The Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals (APFA) are willing to work with the City of Hamilton and the Hamilton Conservation Authority to develop, implement and train staff in the use of co-existence models such as flow devices and exclusion fencing.

As a tax-payer and resident of the City of Hamilton, it is my wish that we learn to live with wildlife and not cause pain and suffering when better solutions exist.

I urge you to contact APFA to learn more about their methods.


(your name and address).

Photo by Doris Potter

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Established in 1953, The Fur-Bearers is a charitable, non-partisan organization whose goals are to end the commercial fur trade and promote solutions for wildlife coexistence in communities. Your donation is tax-deductible. Charitable registration number: 130006125RR0002

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