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Coyote mangled by leg-hold trap sparks renewed calls for ban

Animal rights activists are renewing calls on the provincial government to ban all leg-hold traps after finding a coyote that had been caught in one for at least two days and tried to gnaw its leg off.

"When this coyote was found, his wrist bone was broken in half, his teeth were broken, and the coyote was trying to wring off his own limb, so the paw, it was actually a 360 rotation," said Lesley Fox, executive director of the Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals.

Angela Fontana, animal care supervisor at Critter Care Wildlife Society in Langley, said a couple found the young coyote in a wooded area of Abbotsford on Saturday and called her office for help. She said it is the worst case of an animal suffering from a trap she has ever seen.

"We could smell the infection," Fontana said, "so we euthanized him because the chances of him making it and actually being able to survive in the wild with three legs was pretty slim."

Leg-hold traps are legal in B.C., but must be padded, "offset", or "laminated", and set at least 200 metres from any home. On public land they must be checked every 72 hours, and on private land every 24 hours.

The Conservation Officer Service is investigating, and Fox said she spoke on Tuesday with the province's director of fish and wildlife, Andrew Wilson, who is aware of the incident and told her he was "looking into it."

"What makes this case really significant is the fur industry really touts this specific trap as being the most humane," Fox said of padded traps, which have synthetic pads between their jaws.

"...They all work the same, in the case with a leg-hold trap: They work to restrain an animal who's fighting for their life, and despite best intentions, despite whether you're a licensed trapper, despite education courses for trappers and any lame regulations, animals still suffer unbelievably in these devices."

The Ministry of Forests and Lands could not immediately respond to a request for comment from Wilson.

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