March 21st, 2018 ~ Vol. 89 No. 12
Workshop teaches how to free dog from trap
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
Anna Kroupina Photo
Local trapper Darren Cook shows how to open a conibear trap using a piece of rope. The rope, or a dog’s leash, can be used to release the trap by threading it through the
eyelets and pulling. Speed is essential when removing a domestic pet from the conibear trap, as law requires these traps to kill or render a caught animal unconcious within 300 seconds, or 5 minutes.
Pass Herald Reporter
Each year, the Fish and Wildlife office in Blairmore receives a handful of incident reports where people’s dogs get caught in a trap or snare.

Fish and Wildlife District Officer for Blairmore John Clarke organized a Trapping Awareness Workshop to educate the public on the history of trapping in Canada, the regulations required to be a trapper, how to identify traps and, most importantly, how to get dogs out of them.

The majority of Crown land in Alberta is part of a Registered Fur Management Area (RFMA), which means that trapping in Alberta is legal on most provincial land, the exception being special parcels of public land and ecological reserves.

Informing the workshop along with Clarke were Ken Hildebrand, a director with the Alberta Trappers' Association, and local trappers Lindsey Paterson and Darren Cook.

Cook explained several signs that dog owners recreating in the backcountry should look out for that may signal a trap in the area.
An obvious tell is a posted sign warning of traps close by. However, signage is not mandatory to post so vigilance should be paid to other indications.
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Ravens are a primary warning sign to look out for. Ravens could signify bait stations with the goal of attracting an animal into the area, and what brings in the coyote or wolf will also attract a domestic dog.

“If there are ravens around, there’s a big chance that a trapper has bait, but it could also be a naturally occurred kill. If you see ravens, get a hold of your dog,” says Cook.

Ribbons in trees may be a good indication of trapping activity. Cook says he may put a ribbon on trees near a snare so that he can locate them easier. Snares can be as little as 8 feet apart. Likewise with CDs hanging off a branch, which trappers hang to attract feline pray.

If you see a skidoo track going off-trail randomly, it is likely it may belong to a trapper veering off to check their traps. It is advisable not to follow these trails. Foothold traps can be placed right in the centre of a skidoo track because wolves often walk along trails.

But there is always the chance that no indication at all is visible, as trappers may wish to draw as little attention as possible. There may be no flags, no distinct trail and no signage.
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Types of traps and how to react

There are three common types of trap mechanisms used in Alberta: a leghold, conibear and snare.

A foothold trap is designed to catch and restrain an animal’s foot and can theoretically be opened with no tools at all, or at minimum with the aid of a stick.

If your dog becomes caught, the first step is to attach the leash to prevent him from running off as soon as he is free, putting him at risk of being caught in another nearby trap. The trap will release when pressure is applied to the two levers on the sides of the trap. This can be done by using a foot to step on each lever or stepping on one side with your foot and using a stick to press the other one. The foothold trap is not dangerous to adults, as their foot is too wide to get caught in the trap.

The conibear and snare require tools to remove and come with a vigorous urgency if your dog is caught, as both traps are designed to kill. There is an urgency associated with these traps, as they are both legally intended to kill or render an animal unconscious within 300 seconds of it being caught, according to the Agreement on International Humane Trapping Standards, which Canada ratified in 1999.

A conibear, or body grip trap, will usually be in some sort of box or cubby and can be removed using a rope or leash by looping your foot through one end of the rope, looping the other through the two eyelets of the trap and pulling up. In place of a rope, this technique can be performed with the dog's leash.

A setter tool would make a much simpler and quicker job of the task and although they are massive, heavy and cost approximately $40, the investment may be worthwhile when the life of your dog is on the line.
A cinch snare requires parrot beak cable cutters to release your dog, a small pair of pliers which retail for around $40. The first step is to restrain your dog and snip the wire at the neck, in theory allowing your dog to be released in as little as 15 seconds.

The reality is that trapping is a profitable and legal activity in Alberta and with Crowsnest Pass being surrounded by provincial land, traps are something for dog owners to be aware of and knowledgeable about while adventuring in the backcountry. Clarke recommended practicing opening the traps to be prepared for a potential real-life scenario. There are also many online videos and infographics that may be helpful.
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March 21st, 2018 ~ Vol. 89 No. 12
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