Delay trapping season to protect grizzlies, researchers say

Grizzly bears
Grizzly bears in British Columbia.
Photo by Michel Viard / Getty Images

Traps are damaging the toes of grizzly bears in southeast British Columbia according to a recently published paper, leading to calls for a delay to the trapping season.

Considerations for furbearer trapping regulations to prevent grizzly bear toe amputation and injury, published August 15, 2022 in the journal Wildlife Society Bulletin, outlines clear evidence from a research team that amputated toes on grizzly bears are a direct result of baited traps.

Read The Study (New Window)

The study authors, Clayton Lamb, Laura Smith, Bruce McLellan, Lucas M. Vander Vennen, and Michael Proctor, write that a delay to the trapping season is a viable solution.

“Reducing the overlap between the period when bears are active, and the trapping season is open, is one way to minimize the amputation of bear toes and prevent trappers from losing their traps and having their sets destroyed by bears,” write the authors. “Shifting the start of most trapping that coincides with the active bear season from November 1 to December 1 would eliminate most overlap between trapping and bears.”

According to the paper, this regulatory solution was proposed in 2019 and not implemented.

Dr. Clayton Lamb relayed much of the story behind the study in an interview with the Vancouver Sun, published August 25, 2022.

“We worked with trappers and the province for three years to change the seasons, but were unsuccessful in the end,” Lamb was quoted as saying. “This is how science is intended to work. We learn things we weren’t even aware of, and the next step is to act on that evidence. In this case we present an issue and propose changes to trapping practices that could solve the issue . . . What we need to do is keep bear toes out of traps.”

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