Injured animals, dying from black plastic rat traps

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Black plastic pressure traps meant to kill rats inadvertently cause excruciating pain to partially trapped squirrels, skunks and raccoons

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Animal welfare groups say animals other than rats are inadvertently caught in black plastic spring traps in Metro Vancouver.

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While pressure traps are described as being able to humanely kill rats if used correctly, they can also grab a leg of a larger animal such as a skunk, squirrel, or raccoon and cause pain. excruciating for several days. The damage can be so severe that treatment centers often have no choice but to euthanize the animal.

Reports of more animals being caught in instant traps could be linked to the ban on rodenticides, poisons used to kill rats and mice that also kill other animals.

In Langley, Critter Care Wildlife says people have been bringing in animals injured by pressure traps since about 2018, but more and more in the past year.

Nathan Wagstaffe, CC’s senior wildlife technician, couldn’t say exactly how many animals captured in spring traps were brought into the care center, but said “we see one almost every two or so. three days”.

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Critter Care specializes in the care of mammals and treats approximately 2,500 animals per year.

Wagstaffe said animals other than rats are caught in the traps and cannot remove them from their foot or paw.

“They end up dragging them with them every day, causing immense damage to this poor animal’s limb,” Wagstaffe said.

Critter Care, he said, saw animals with almost severed feet.

“It’s horrible,” he said. “Sometimes they wear them for weeks. “

Pressure traps are designed so that when a rodent bites on the hook, it triggers a bar that snaps towards the body. If it works properly, it can kill the rodent instantly.

Wagstaffe said most, if not all of the animals brought to Critter Care had to be euthanized due to the severity of their injuries from spring traps.

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Wagstaffe did not have an exact reason for the increase in the number of animals injured by pressure traps, but suggested it could be related to the rodenticide ban.

Since 2020, seven municipalities in Metro Vancouver have banned the use of rodenticides, according to information compiled by the SPCA. The most common are the second generation anticoagulant rodenticides called SGARS. They have the unintended consequence of leading to direct poisoning of other animals as well as secondary poisoning of owls and raptors that feed on rodents.

In July, the provincial government banned rodenticides for 18 months while it conducts a scientific review and promotes alternatives to poisoning.

In Burnaby, the Wildlife Rescue Association says it has treated 25 birds and four mammals captured in spring traps and similar traps this year.

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Graphic design and communications assistant Sasha Rink said in an email that the association’s hospital treats songbirds caught in glue traps intended for mice, bats stuck on paper Sticky intended for insects and birds with broken limbs by pressure traps intended for rodents.

“Unfortunately, most of these traps are indiscriminate and often trap more than the intended target species,” she said.

Erin Ryan, Research Communications Specialist for the BCSPCA, has just completed a master’s degree at the University of British Columbia in humane mouse and rat control.

She said one of the problems in North America is that there are no regulations ensuring consistency in pressure traps.

“Basically, the harder the snap, the more human it is because you’re more likely to kill an animal on impact,” she said.

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“The pity is that the performance of these traps varies considerably. There is no way to guarantee which traps are better than the others.

She said that while pressure traps can potentially kill rodents humanely, they do not discriminate between animal species.

“If you set these traps outdoors rather than indoors in attics and walls, you should keep them in a protected box to make sure they are not accessible to other animals,” he said. she declared.

She said there isn’t necessarily a tool or a trap to solving rodent control problems. Prevention is the key.

“It’s really about excluding rodents from different structures and reducing or eliminating the attractants that get them into our buildings in the first place,” she said.

The attractants are food, shelter and water.

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“If we don’t deal with attractants, they will keep coming back. “

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