Please note: this story contains graphic details of animal suffering.
A coyote suffered as no animal should. No matter where on the spectrum of animal welfare or trapping you fall, the story of a coyote featured in The Sudbury Star on February 15 should disturb you.
It began on social media: a photo that appeared to show a coyote who had chewed off both his hind feet; then the good people at Walden Animal Hospital got involved and were able to locate and capture the coyote. Their investigation revealed the horrifying truth.
“Both hind legs below the hocks were gone,” wrote Jim Moodie for The Sudbury Star. “… a piece of bone was even stuck in the hard palate of the coyote’s mouth, proving he had gnawed off his own back feet.”
Ligature marks around the outside of the legs led veterinarian Carolyn Lariviere to conclude a snare was the culprit – a perfectly legal trap, often referred to as “quick kill” or “humane” by the trapping industry.
Some misinformation, however, came into play in The Star’s article. For instance: a snare cannot be set to always properly catch an animal by the neck and kill them quickly, as shown by Dr. Gilbert Proulx’s research and extensive field monitoring of snares set by professional trappers (see a full list of his research at AlphaWildlife.ca, or view his book on Killing Snares and Strychnine at by clicking here). In one case that was filmed by Dr. Proulx (at a legal trap site), a coyote suffered for 23 hours in a snare before succumbing to their injuries.
Further, there are no legislated trap check times for killing snares. Despite Dr. Lariviere’s comments, there is no evidence that this trap was not set properly, or within suggested requirements for check times.
These devices also catch and injured or maim domestic animals like dogs and cats and can kill or injure sensitive species (see the threatened wolverine caught by a snare set for wolves near Thunder Bay earlier this year). There is no central repository for how frequently catching domestic animals happens, as reporting such catches is not required. The Fur-Bearers attempts to monitor these cases, but largely reply on media reports.
The science has shown that snares will cause grievous pain and suffering to animals caught by them – regardless of intent or marketing terminology applied by the fur industry. The only way to protect wildlife, domestic animals, and potentially children from these baited, legal devices is to treat them as what they are: dangerous weapons that don’t belong in our country.
Canadians who want to take a stand against snares are invited to do so at www.TheFurBearers.com/Snares.
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