About 1 hour north from Vancouver is the Sunshine Coast. It’s one of BC’s jewels with beautiful forests, mountain views, ocean and beaches. It was also where the popular TV series, The Beachcombers was filmed (a Canadian comedy-drama broadcasted on CBC, 1972-1990).
Earlier this spring, a dog was caught in a leg-hold trap that was intended for wolves. The incident set off a firestorm of opposition from local residents, many of whom had no idea that trapping still existed. Residents had questions and they wanted answers from their city hall. Why were traps being used? Weren’t leg hold traps already banned? Why weren’t signs posted?
To their dismay, citizens soon learned that 3 traplines run throughout the Sunshine Coast, and if you have a trapping license, it is perfectly legal to set leg-hold, Conibear and snare traps just 200 metres from a dwelling.
As you can imagine, people were very concerned for their safety, the safety of their children, pets and local wildlife.
Community comes together to oppose to trapping
Led by Vicki Starfire (the guardian of Sammie, the dog who was caught in a leg-hold trap in Sechelt) and her newly formed group, The Concerned Citizens of the Sunshine Coast and with help from the Fur-Bearer’s Association we took our concerns straight to the Town of Gibsons, the District of Sechelt and the Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD).
Photo: Vicki Stafire with her canine pal, Sammie
The town of Gibsons was first to take action. Town council has already drafted a bylaw to ban trapping and in the coming weeks, it is expected to pass third reading. (Ironically, on the very day that the trapping bylaw passed first reading, another pet, a cat, was caught on a neighbouring property in a Conibear trap!)
Although there has been some delays, the city of Sechelt is expected to follow suit.
Lastly, the Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) has also expressed an interest in banning traps, but unfortunately, it’s not that easy.
Trapping is regulated provincially, but the under the Municipal Act (Community Charter), any municipality has the authority to enact bylaws concerning, without limitation, animals; the natural environment; and the health, safety and protection of persons and property. While this applies to Gibsons and Sechelt, the SCRD is not a municipality and therefore questions arose regarding whether they have the authority to ban trapping.
After a recent community services meeting of the SCRD, members passed a recommendation to request the province review the impact of growth on the Sunshine Coast and implement a no trapping area within urban interface areas. While this wouldn’t ban trapping entirely, it would provide some protection to outdoor enthusiasts.
More importantly, the committee also passed a recommendation to lobby the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) requesting the province develop educational programs on alternatives to trapping problem wildlife.
Our Association continues to work with those people living on the Sunshine Coast to ban cruel and dangerous traps. We are also looking forward to working with local government, and hopefully soon the provincial government to ban and restrict wildlife trapping.
Currently, there are only a handful of other places in BC that have banned or restricted trapping (some of these bylaws have been in place for a long time):
District of North Vancouver
Bylaw # 5130
Effective: December 18, 1978
Leg-hold and killing traps (Conibear and snares), and poison are prohibited within the boundaries of the District of North Vancouver.
District of North Cowichan
Bylaw # 1825
Effective: January 18, 1979
Leg-hold and snare traps are prohibited within the municipality.
District of Coquitlam
Bylaw # 967
Effective: July 3, 1979
No person (including a firm or corporation) may use a leg-hold trap within the boundaries of Coquitlam.
City of Victoria
Bylaw # 79-89
Effective: not available
No person may set or use a leg-hold trap.
District of North Saanich
Bylaw # 751
Effective: December, 1998
No leg-hold or snare traps are permitted within the boundaries of North Saanich.