Conservation Officer helps rescue West Van raccoon from trap

Thanks to the efforts of a West Vancouver family and BC Conservation Officer Kent Popje, this raccoon was successfully freed from a trap late Monday night. Photo provided by Wendy of West Vancouver.

A raccoon and a West Vancouver family are thankful for the work of a Conservation Officer in the early hours of Monday morning.

At approximately 10 pm, West Van resident Wendy and her husband heard an unusual rattling on their back deck. When the sound persisted, Wendy investigated and saw a raccoon. Initially, it appeared the raccoon had been entangled in a suet bird feeder with a hanging chain. But a closer look revealed the truth: a cylindrical trap on the raccoon’s paw.

Having lived in the Arctic, Wendy was familiar with traps but had never seen one like this.

“I started calling every number I could find, thinking someone close by could come help,” Wendy says. “At my wits end, I called the non-emergency police line, and they told me the best route was the BC Conservation Officer Service (BCCOS).”

Wendy contacted the BCCOS emergency line, and within minutes had an officer call back to get information. By the time the officer arrived – all the way from Squamish – the raccoon had climbed into a small treehouse in the family’s yard. The chain of the trap became stuck, which kept the raccoon in place.

Conservation Officer Kent Popjes made the long drive from Squamish to West Vancouver, arriving around midnight, and successfully released the raccoon from the cuff-style trap. No life-threatening injuries were seen, and the raccoon made their way into the evening, happily and safely.

“Officer [Popjes] was gentle, kind and calm,” says Wendy, in thanking the BC COS for their response.

The BC COS confirmed that the cuff-style trap is currently legal under provincial regulations as it meets the standard of the certified “egg trap” type. Leg-hold traps are not permitted for use to target raccoons. However, the use of any trap within 200m of a dwelling and without regular checks is illegal in British Columbia. 

The Fur-Bearers will be releasing a media statement and reward for information today regarding this case. We are also thankful to Officer Popjes for their compassionate response that helped at least two families in need on Monday evening.

Anyone with information relating to this incident or other cases of illegal trapping are asked to contact the BCCOS RAPP Line at 1-877-952-RAPP (7277).

CORRECTION: This article was updated (March 18, 2021 at 1346 hrs) to indicate that raccoon cuff-style traps are covered by current BC regulations and are not illegal for use; however, it remains illegal to place any trap within 200m of a dwelling and it is illegal to trap raccoons with traditional leg-holds.

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