Posters and a new website aim to raise awareness over raccoons missing paws in Oak Bay and the concern the damage is human-caused.
Posters in the Haultain Street, Epworth Street and Kings Road neighbourhood inform residents, and Oak Bay Police were alerted May 25 with a report of up to four sightings in recent weeks of raccoons in that neighbourhood with a missing paw.
“(The resident has) been seeing a drastic reduction of the raccoon population,” said Deputy Chief Kent Thom, Oak Bay Police.
“That’s what made them think there were maybe some leg traps being set. If that is the case, it gives us a lot of concern because pets and young children run the risk of being hurt and injured with these traps.”
One of the injured raccoons was a nursing mother.
“I think it’s just speculation at this point. We’ve seen no traps and we personally have seen no injured raccoons,” said Thom. “It’s on our radar now and we’re always looking for this kind of thing.”
Raccoons missing limbs is not a new phenomenon, says Conservation Officer Peter Pauwels. “We don’t see it very often, but I have seen it occasionally,” he said.
While there is concern someone is using a leg-hold trap, “that’s not necessarily the case,” Pauwels said.
There was an incident about three years ago, he said, where a raccoon got caught in a kania trap, a lethal squirrel trap that can cause damage to larger animals when not properly used.
“That’s probably more likely than leg-hold,” Pauwels said.
However, “to use those you have to be more than 200 metres from a residence, which makes it pretty hard to do in Oak Bay.”
While it would be illegal to use the lethal traps, Pauwels cautions residents not to jump to conclusions.
“It’s completely legal to use live traps and there are lots of them out there,” he said. “If you want to trap animals, there are companies that will do that for you and most of them are pretty good about using legal traps. If these things are not used properly it isn’t just raccoons that could get caught, it could be other animals as well.”
“If they see something they think is illegal then they could phone it in,” he added.
The BC SPCA Wild Animal Rehabilitation Centre was among agencies contacted by the concerned resident, and their phone number shared on the posters in the neighbourhood.
“If anyone does notice raccoons in the area that are injured in any way, contact us directly. That way we can help them assess the situation,” said Heather Schmitt, assistant manager at Wild ARC.
The Metchosin facility sees a lot of orphaned baby wildlife of all varieties this time of year, including young raccoons.
“We tend to see adult raccoons sporadically throughout the year,” Schmitt said. They primarily come in with animal-versus-animal injuries.
Visit savetheraccoons.weebly.com to learn more about the resident concern and a reward offered.
Who to call
• BC SPCA Wild Animal Rehabilitation Centre, 250-478-9453
• Police – Oak Bay, 250-592-2424 or Crime Stoppers, 1-800-222-8477
• BC Conservation Service, 1-877-952-7277 (RAPP) or #7277 on the TELUS Mobility Network or online at env.gov.bc.ca/cos/rapp/form.htm