My condolences to the Cassell family of Smiths Falls on the loss of their beloved family pet this past weekend, to a conibear trap set on a neighbour’s property.
Stacey Cassell was walking his three dogs on December 31st when 11-year old Mishka took off for a jaunt and disappeared for a few minutes. When his dog didn’t return, Cassell went looking for it only to discover the animal caught with a conibear trap around its neck.
The Cassell’s are saddened by the death of their beloved pet and outraged that the neighbour never told them he had coyote traps on the property.
This is the second trapping incident in recent days, as conibear traps were also discovered set some distance off the path in an Aylmer Park area.
These incidents are unfortunate on several levels. Being a pet owner and animal lover myself, I too would be devastated to find my family poach in the jaws of a trap meant for fur-bearers.
These incidents, in my opinion, also demonstrate how desperate we have become to control predators in eastern Ontario and western Quebec.
Obviously these trappers had no intention of catching family pets, or had they purposely set traps in areas with the goal of harming children, as some have implied. But it did happen and they do hold some responsibly to be more careful.
There is a bigger picture to all this….
The fur industry has (sadly) been on shaky ground for years and bad press such as this is just one more nail in the coffin. The truth of the matter is, however, that now more than ever before, we need trappers and we need the fur industry to stay alive.
I know it will be a hard sell to those who have been have been adversely affected by the fur industry like the Cassell family, but the community needs to realize that we have a huge underlying problem here; one which needs to be addressed.
It may not be as evident to those folks who have never ‘strolled the back 40′ but we have a predator population which is simply out of control. I’ve even heard stories about local hunters who harvested a deer and before they get to it, the coyotes have completely ravished it!
And I have seen it myself first hand.
As many of you already know, this time last year I had between 10 – 15 whitetail deer visiting my backyard deer feeder on a daily basis. You may have seen the stories and photos posted here on the Outdoors Guy. These deer have been residents of a property where no hunting is allowed, and we have been watching them for years.
Yes, believe it or not, I am an avid hunter who takes pride in winter deer management and the welfare of nature’s most beautiful animal, and not because I hunt them. I love to photograph and observe these wonderful creatures. Most hunters I know are the same way.
Through my backyard deer feeding, I am also teaching my children to appreciate nature and expose them to aspects of life they may not necessarily get in school.
Ok, so ask me how many deer I have coming to my feeder now?
Not a Goddamn one, and would you like to know why??
Over the past couple of months, the only creatures to show up my ‘feeder cam’ have been the neighbour’s cat and these large dog-like beasts with grey coloured fur!
My daughter and I even took a little stroll in the back woods this weekend to see how severe the coyote problem really was, and it didn’t take long to figure things out.
The properly was littered with coyote tracks and trails, and I found hair-filled scat all over the place. My heart sank!!
In a small forest where I know for a fact that nearly 20 deer normally spend the winter, I found but one lonely set of deer tracks.
What does this have to do with family pets getting caught in traps you ask?
As concerned conservationists, we are looking for ways – any way at all – to control a burgeoning predator population. Residents need to realize that once our deer are all gone; these marauding brush wolves still need to eat. So what’s next?
Next it will be our family pets, or worse our children. I may sound paranoid to some but the statistics are there – coyotes have and will attack people and the problem will only get worse if we can’t get their numbers under control.
Since hunting coyotes is frowned upon in this city, as we have seen the response to the Osgoode coyote cull, I ask you how else besides trapping can we control the yote numbers in this region?
Contrary to popular belief, the eastern coyote does target big-game. In many cases, the whitetail deer will make up much of their diet.
Yes, family pets getting accidentally caught in traps meant for predators is a terrible and unfortunate thing, please don’t get me wrong, but unless we do something soon the future of all our pets may be in jeopardy!
And this weekend when my daughter commented during our nature walk about all the dog tracks she was seeing, I didn’t have the heart to tell her what was really going on.