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Golden Lab Mix Killed by a Snare

Trapper says he can avoid family pets

SIMONE PONNE/NEWS

Allan Starkey shows how a modern coyote trap holds an animal without injury.

By Phil Melnychuk

Staff Reporter

Feb 16 2005

The Fox family lost Abigail, a golden Labrador cross, last month when it suffocated in a bizarre killing contraption.

While Annette Fox accepts what's happened, she just wishes whoever had a problem with her dog, would have told her, called the SPCA, written a note or anything.

"As far as I know, there's nothing we can do," she said Tuesday.

Fox, who lives in the Davidson subdivision at 126th Avenue and 216th Street, said Abigail wandered off the family property Jan. 23.

While Fox went to nearby Alouette elementary to look for her pet, it was her 11-year-old daughter who found Abigail on an adjoining property with a thick wire around her neck.

Fox initially thought it may have been a nearby trapper who set the device, but Allan Starkey said he had nothing to do with it.

Starkey, a professional trapper for 54 years, doesn't own a trap of the kind that killed Abigail, although he has more than 700 conventional traps for coyotes, beaver and muskrats.

"I really don't know what it was set for," he said.

The dog wasn't found on Starkey's property, but it's possible the trap was originally located closer to the South Alouette River and the dog dragged it to the place it was found, Starkey said. "It was just very strange."

If anything, the snare could have been created to trap raccoons, he said.

Starkey said he also has one trap on his property to catch coyotes but it's a non-lethal box trap that merely contains an animal. That way if a dog gets caught, it can be released.

Starkey, who's president of the Lower Mainland Trappers' Association, said there's a constant need for his services, from both municipalities and private landowners.

"My phone rings 10 times a day for nuisance animals," he said.

Last year, he trapped about 30 beavers in Pitt Meadows for berry producers. The rodents have developed a taste for the blueberry bushes.

Beavers are killed in a conibear traps which are set in the water and kill a beaver by clamping down on its neck.

"They're dead - in seconds," Starkey said.

Coyotes, which prey on livestock and household pets, are trapped year round.

Coyotes are caught in non-lethal foothold traps that contain the animal until it's shot by the trapper. The foothold traps don't hurt the animals - or people if they're caught in them, he said.

Starkey said coyotes have wiped out the native fox population. "There's so many coyotes killing sheep and everything in Maple Ridge," he said. "They're killing everything."

Muskrats are also trapped and killed along the dikes in north Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows. They have a habit of burrowing into the earth and weakening the structure which eventually could lead to a dike failing.

Referring to previous recent incidents of dogs killed in beaver traps, Starkey said that used to be a rare occurrence, about once a decade.

Now with more people and more dogs it seems to be happening every year, he said.


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