Trapping reviewed

The City of Red Deer will review its animal trapping policy within city parks after a woman’s pet dog was snared at Three Mile Bend.

The City of Red Deer will review its animal trapping policy within city parks after a woman’s pet dog was snared at Three Mile Bend.

Parks superintendent Trevor Poth said the city does allow a licensed trapper to target problem animals, such as beaver, in various parks, including the off-leash dog park.

But the trapping is to be done between dusk and dawn, when people and their dogs are not in the park, said Poth, who expressed concern that Nancy McCagg’s golden retriever, Ellie, got her neck caught in a wire snare at about 10 p.m. on Friday.

McCagg was afraid her dog could have strangled, since the snare tightened each time she attempted to loosen it.

Poth said the city will review the kinds of traps that are used in light of this incident. “It was supposed to be a leg trap. That the dog was caught in a different way is a concern for us.”

The city will also consider moving back the hours trapping starts to 11:30 p.m. or midnight, when people are less likely to be in the park.

Problem animals within the city are targeted by a licensed trapper who uses internationally approved equipment and follows city-set guidelines, said Poth. Among the requirements is that the trapper stay within the park the whole time and check on traps frequently.

Trapping can be done in any city park — except the Gaetz Lakes Sanctuary, which is considered an animal preserve.

Poth added it’s only done when needed during the spring, summer and early fall — and only as a last resort.

In the case of Three Mile Bend, an overpopulation of beavers has caused a lot of damage to already sparse strands of trees. Poth said each beaver brings down an average of 216 trees a season — some up to 40 cm in diameter. “This is significant for us because it really impacts a park.”

Parks workers considered options other than killing the beavers, but came up blank. Not only do private property owners in the area not want beavers relocated to their land — “they will shoot them,” said Poth — but beavers are extremely territorial and will kill new intruders put within their range.

Poth said no more trapping will be done at Three Mile Bend this season. The city intends to review its park trapping policy over the winter, comparing it to other cities, and “we’ll explore all the alternatives that are out there.”

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