Canada is well known throughout the world for the high regard that it gives to the protection of human rights and dignity. I sincerely hope that Canada will continue to lead the way by enacting and enforcing the most highly evolved regulations for trapping and the protection of its unintended victims. As it stands now, several developing countries are ahead of us: Kenya, Zimbabwe, and Tanzania have all banned leghold traps.
This running commentary assumes that you are familiar with the tale of Grace's death, on the main page of this site. For more of the details of the incidents that have come to my attention, please follow the links from this summary version of progress and lack of it.
After speaking with the game warden Claude Bourque I have the first ray of sunshine in my heart since one month ago—going through the actions these last few weeks has been the only way I could accept the reality of the traumatic solitary war zone of finding the trap killing the life out of my dog, and getting such a strong sense of success through this morning's conversation gives meaning to Grace's death.
This morning I had another very good chat with Bourque. He was very helpful. For the first time, I could sense some happiness stirring in me. It’s all so brilliant in simplicity and we never had to touch on the judgment of using animals for furs, because the trap was so near to the public. I've always felt so helpless about hunting and everything else. This time there is a way in, a chink in the armour—because the trap was set so close to a public walking path.
On Christmas Day, 6 weeks after Grace was killed, I went to a shelter, 'just to look'. How unlikely to find so easily, a successor to Grace—Komi. In the aftershock of finding her, I was exhausted, and ready to just put the whole thing behind me, but I kept uncovering more information that made me realize just how many of these laws no longer serve their original purpose.
My lifestyle was altered suddenly with Grace's death. I now have a fresh new dog, thriving because of Grace's misfortune. She has different habits, and I have different attitudes as a dog owner. I never want to relive this experience—hopefully Grace and I suffered this so that others can be spared.
Even though finding Komi has saved my heart from the death grip of sorrow, Grace's tragic death remains a memory that will always haunt me. To make sure that she did not die for nothing, I will play whatever part I can towards having these antiquated trapping laws re-examined in the light of present-day needs.
I have been waiting for something to happen or to change, but it is clear now that there is more red tape than I had so idealistically hoped for. It is a complicated issue, made even more so by a lack of responsibility and accountability.
October 25th—the day that trappers can legally place traps—is not far away. Any trapper with a permit can put a trap anywhere they like.
I sent, to the Quebec Minister of Justice, a file containing a letter and 25 supporting documents (proofs), since nothing had been done by local police or the game warden.
A year after Grace's death, I went to see whether the box, bait, and trap were there. The box was there, with no trap or bait.
I finally received a reply from my September missive to the minister of Justice. Their reply consists of a copy of the police report of the "incident" with Grace. That report states that withiin two weeks of Grace's death, they (the police) had destroyed the trap (the game warden was surprised when he found out that they had done this), and closed the case, revealing to me how insignificant they consider this problem to be.
The game warden's surprise adds to my suspicion that maybe the police know whose trap that was (maybe a relative or friend) and wanted the evidence to disappear. As this is the sum total of progress from the officials in power, I have chosen to start using this Web site as a vehicle for change, rather that just an hommage to Grace's legacy.
Only one year later, and also in Morin Heights, about 5 kilometers (3 miles) from where Grace died, another dog, Taffy, spent 6 days in a snare (ligature trap), and survived. Kathryn Weaver (Taffy's owner) faced the same stone wall that I have faced. Her research and discoveries are extremely valuable. Worthy of note is the fact that although the province governs trapping regulations, any municipality can apply more stringent regulations. A municipality has the authority to ban trapping on its territory, in the same manner that Montreal forbids the raising of chickens within its boundaries, even though the raising of chickens is legal in Quebec.
Because my property was being flooded by beavers, I called my municipality. They gave me the phone number of Gaston LaRock, a very interesting local trapper who explained many things to me. As a responsible trapper, he also resents the irresponsible trappers who are giving the occupation a bad reputation; he gave me names and phone numbers of contacts at the trappers association, to which he is proud to belong. He only places his traps in water, or high up in trees, and his traps, all new looking, and oiled, did not at all resemble the rusty one that killed Grace. In his experience, the Conibear trap is the most humane method to take the life of an animal, and with proper trapping practices they cause the least suffering.
While he told me the ways of the beaver, I could tell that this man really does have respect for the animals that he kills. So there was a negligent trapper on the Aerobic Corridor the day Grace died. And, yes, beavers would over-run the land if there were no trappers. Working in cooperation with professional trappers, we can amend the laws, see to it that they are enforced, and get rid of the bad guys. The activity of trapping will benefit greatly from coming out of the closet (move from covert to overt)—as long as it remains a big, dirty secret activity, nothing will change.
I wrote a letter to the mayor of my municipality, to have this issue presented before Council, in the hopes of action on a municipal level (to protect us, the residents of our own town), given the absence of action of a provincial level.
In the last two years there have been at least 11 episodes that I am aware of (8 in the last two months): 6 of them in Nova Scotia; others in Quebec, British Columbia and Long Island (the dog's owner found me through this site). While it appears that there is no progress here in Quebec, concerned and angry Nova Scotia residents are attempting to cut through the absurdity, the lack of concern, and the lack of accountability.
It would be nice if, here in Quebec, we too found it important to add to the existing law, and important that the public be informed of trap locations and trapping seasons. It would be nice if we too were concerned about the lack of signage, the lack or concern and accountability. It would be nice if we acted as people in other places have done.
May 6, 2005
During this past winter, which I entered with a feeling of defeat over the effectiveness of the silent treatment I had received from all levels of government, a flurry of tragedy, action, and minor progress arrived from many directions (British Columbia, Long Island (NY), Nova Scotia), and renewed my strength, my interest, and my commitment. I saw how effective email had been in Nova Scotia, and so contacted by email my elected representative, Mr. David Whissell. As of October, 2005, he also has not replied.
A new article in Main Street (November 2005) sums up, in one way, how I feel about having to swallow the fact that I could allow myself to be so ignored!
One result of so much activity in this very busy year (for those of us concerned about the effects of trapping on the rest of us) is that I realize that trapping is necessary and valuable, and will continue. If road signs (similar to those that warn us of moose and deer crossings) increased our awareness of the fact that trapping is still alive and well (and could leave you, your child, or your pet far from alive and well), then the number of tragedies could be reduced.
If you ask a dozen people in your daily life if they think that trapping still takes place, and whether they think there could be a trap "not far away from here," you may be surprised by how little we really know about where and how trapping is done! Many people believe that trapping is a thing of the past, the stuff of romantic historical tales of Canada's infancy, and that it takes place hundreds of miles from where we live!
As I spoke with others from many places about pets and children injured or killed in animal traps, a pattern became obvious:
Authorities are reluctant to re-examine trapping laws, and act only after an injury or death, or in response to overwhelming public demand.
Traps are often set in places, seasons, and manners that do not conform to regulations, and are typically not marked.
Municipalities set traps, and also fail to announce their locations.
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