Nanaimo city council approves trapping ban

NANAIMO – City's potential new trapping ban hinges now on government approval.

Nanaimo’s potential animal trap ban could inspire other Vancouver Island municipalities to follow suit, says Mayor John Ruttan.

Nanaimo city officials are sending a new animal trapping bylaw to the B.C. government for approval this week.

Council members say it’s essentially a lobbying effort to press the province for the authority to police leg-hold traps, which they call “inhumane.”

Municipal trapping bylaws are not enforceable under current B.C. wildlife regulations, but the province is reconsidering its rules. So far, Vernon, Surrey, Sechelt and Nanaimo are the only municipalities to make the bid for bans on traps.

“We end up often being looked upon by smaller communities when it comes to a lot of different decisions to be made,” said Ruttan, just prior to council making a 7-1 vote on the bylaw.

“If we do pass this trapping bylaw … it will be a message to other communities on the Island that maybe it’s time to make a decision on this.”

According to the City of Nanaimo, debate about trapping rules and public safety was triggered in October when hikers stumbled upon six devices on private property in Linley Valley. The traps were  sanctioned to deal with problem beaver, but raised questions about the role the municipality can play in regulating the use of lethal traps.

Coun. Fred Pattje, who pitched the bylaw, said body-gripping devices are cruel, especially when there are other ways of addressing nuisance animals, like beaver.

The bylaw, which proposes a minimum penalty of $500 for the use of ‘inhumane’ snares, will serve notice to the province about how the municipality feels about lethal traps, he said.

It will also show “we want their attention and we want them to act on it … if we don’t do it this way, we will never have it.”

Coun. Diane Brennan said the bylaw will also put the city in a position to act if the province does “see the light” and approve bids by municipalities to police trapping.