A Quebec woman is warning nature lovers to be careful in the woods after her dog became ensnared in an illegal trap and died.
Gwynne Basen, a resident of Potton in the Eastern Townships, said her dog, 11-year-old Betty, was drawn to a bait box in the Green Mountains nature reserve near her home.
“She didn't die instantly. I couldn't get the trap off. I carried her with trap still on her head to the closest neighbour who is a hunter and trapper,” Basen told CBC's Quebec AM.
“He had a hard time getting it off as well. Finally, it came off, and she walked about 10 feet before she dropped.”
Trapping within the nature reserve is against the rules. Dogs also aren’t permitted on the grounds, although many can't resist the urge to bring their canines with them on the hiking trails.
Basen said she was aware of the rules.
“I knew I wasn't supposed to bring my dog. I've paid a huge price for that,” she said.
“I want to make sure people absolutely don't bring their dogs into the reserve. But I also want to see stricter rules around trapping, because it's invisible and not very well regulated.”
A popular trail
Basen says it is very common for people to bring their dogs off the designated hiking trails.
“Signage is good, but the land is very big, and it's not always obvious where nature reserve ends and someone else's land begins. After this incident happened, the game warden wasn't sure who owned the exact piece of land, so there is some confusion,” said Basen.
She says she is also concerned about what could happen to children out on the trail who come across the traps when their parents are not looking.
"What would happen if you go up there with a curious four-year-old, who runs up to see what the bait box is all about?" asked Basen.
Nearly three years ago, Basen's sister Leila lost her Australian shepherd Lola under similar circumstances, when the dog was caught in a trap in the bush just off a trail in Hemmingford, Que. At that time, Hemmingford's mayor said Basen and her partner should have followed the town bylaw that says dogs need to be on leashes.
Legal recourse possible
Julien Poisson, the project manager for the Green Mountain reserve, said the Nature Conservancy of Canada, which owns the land, will have to reinforce the signage in some of those key areas of the reserve.
Poisson said the conservation group is leading an investigation. If they are able to identify the owner of the traps, there could be legal recourse, he said.