A Vancouver animal rights group is putting up a $1,000 reward for information about a river otter found injured with a snare around its neck off Ambelside Pier in West Vancouver.
Volunteers spotted the female otter that had deep wounds in its neck and took it to the Critter Care Wildlife Society rehab facility centre in Langley over the long weekend.
The society’s technicians alerted the Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals after determining the snare may have been illegal.
The animal’s pain must have been “unfathomable” said Lesley Fox, executive director of the association, which also goes by the name the Fur-Bearers.
“I actually saw the river otter on the weekend and it’s really disgusting. The wire’s cut deep into the flesh,” she said. “It didn’t sever any major arteries, which is why she’s still alive. She’s eating and obviously she’s been checked over by a vet. Hopefully with some time and antibiotics, she can fight off infection, she’ll pull through and hopefully be a candidate for release.”
River otters are targeted by trappers for a number of reasons. Their pelts still have commercial value in fur fashion. They can be seen as a nuisance species, especially for people who fish. They can be aggressive and are known to board people’s boats.
“It’s really hard to say what the intention was. Certainly, if someone on the North Shore is targeting river otters because they perceive them to be a menace, we would love to offer our services to help provide humane alternatives,” she said. “There are lots of non-lethal options available.”
It’s possible the otter may have come from Stanley Park or any of the surrounding streams and rivers that open into Burrard Inlet.
Trapping is permitted year-round on private property. They can also be set on Crown land with a licence and lease from the government, although trapping season is limited from October to April.
Fox’s group lobbies against the use of snares and leg-hold traps although both are still legal in Canada.
“Snares really are a whole other level of cruelty,” she said, noting they are designed to tighten like a noose around an animal’s neck as it struggles to break free. “She’s lucky she evaded death.”
The Fur-Bearers has put up rewards in the past for information in animal cruelty cases, although none have been claimed.
“We’re hopeful someone will do the right thing. The main thing for us is to try and raise awareness about this issue and put it in the forefront, and encourage people to always speak out against animal cruelty,” she said. “People need to be aware that these things happen and I’m sure somewhere, somebody knows something.”