This is one woman's story of courage, witnessing and compassion about a wolf that was trapped in a neck snare. Paula Tough shares in her own words what she did next when she happened upon a wolf, just feet away from a snow mobile trail, in distress. Her story is a heartfelt testament of how the humane spirit moves when faced with a challenging decision and how even after days of unimaginable suffering, Kitchi trusts the kindness shown to him by humans.
Recently, I experienced a heartbreaking event while walking my dogs with a friend. I came across a young wolf caught by its hind leg in a snare, just off to the side of a busy snowmobile trail. By evidence of the area surrounding him, I could see he had been there for days. In his panic and pain he had chewed off small trees and dug up the snow. There was stool on the ground which transitioned from normal and formed, to a black tar. I asked my friend to go back to the car with the dogs while I figured out if I could free the wolf.
I spend a lot of time hiking and snowshoeing, and had previously come across another snare on a MNR trail in crown land. Since then, I have carried wire cutters, as I have feared for the safety of my dogs. The poor creature was clearly frightened and went to the end of the snare as I approached. I wanted to make sure I could free it, so I attempted to cut a piece of similar wire on a tree nearby. I was unable to cut through it. I can’t tell you the deep sadness I felt, and the feeling of hopelessness. This animal was simply trying to live its life and was now a victim of human cruelty.
As I was trying to decide what to do, snowmobiles kept going by and I attempted to wave them down in the hope that someone with more strength then I would stop and help to cut the wire. They didn’t stop, even though some slowed to have a look. It is hard to have faith in humanity at a time like this. I realized that to just cut the wire was to subject the animal to more suffering, as it would be free with the snare still slowly cutting off its leg. The chance of survival would be slim, with the risk of infection high. At this point I decided I needed to do this properly. I went back to the car, drove home and brought back blankets, a dog crate, rope and better wire cutters. I also brought my son to help. On the way I called the Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary to see if they would take on an injured wolf. They are wonderful compassionate people who go above and beyond 24/7 to care for the voiceless.
It was not very difficult to crate the wolf. I believe he was weak, but also that he had given up hope in the days of his struggle. The most he did was lay down, like a cowering dog and show his teeth. I gently placed a noose around his head with a big soft rope and kept that taunt while my son and friend scooped him into the crate.
Once at the sanctuary, this young eastern wolf had to have his leg amputated, as the attempt to save the leg was unsuccessful. The snare had cut to the bone through skin and muscle, blood vessels and tendons.
I have set about trying to make some changes. The horrible cruelty I witnessed, in this day and age is unnecessary. Have we not evolved to be better than that? What ever your opinion is of hunting and trapping, surely, you must agree there is no need for cruelty. Cruelty that, is inflicted for a small amount of money and for vanity. Would those consumers of this “harvest” still shop if they recognized the real cost of the bit of fur trim on their coat?
Snaring and restraint trapping is cruel, and it is poorly regulated due to a lack of manpower. That is the truth. Its success is dependent on predictability of animal behaviour (is that possible?), and the cooperation of the weather. Apparently the snow load made this snare, which we are told was meant to noose a neck, end up snaring a leg. Trapping success also depends on the correct species being caught. Please note, there was a deer sighted in the Burks Falls with a snare around its neck during this same time period.
Research has proven to me that the large number of unintentional animals killed is staggering, including family pets. Do these variables make trapping, particularly snaring, really an ethical and well-managed practice? If people really knew what was going on, would they support it? Even those who fear animals such as wolves? Most people’s negative feelings towards animals is based on fear, and education is the key.
All animals feel pain, fear, joy and other emotions. They nurture their young, they form deep bonds, and just like us, work to survive and live their lives. Anyone who has cared for a pet dog or cat must understand this. Just because a wolf, fox, coyote or any animal is not tame, and their personalities are not known to us, it doesn’t mean these characteristics don’t exist.
No, nature is not always kind and gentle but it is honest and simple.
Do we have the right to inflict unnecessary suffering and injury? If we want to hunt, fish and eat meat, we should at least be humane in our practices.
I have connected with many people over this. I have read the responses in the paper, including the one from the trapper’s council. I have read their claim that trapping is ethical and well managed. I have understood their threat that it is a criminal offense to “tamper” with a legal snare or trap line. I am to be relieved that I won’t be charged and fined. I have read the accusations of this issue being raised by “out of town animal activists” wanting recognition and money. I am a local person, I grew up here. I work, shop and live here. I am a nurse, mother and grandmother who loves the outdoors.
Yes, I have always been an animal lover, I have rescued dogs, horses and other animals. I am a caregiver by nature.
Animal activist? Maybe. Looking for financial compensation? Not at all. Would I do it again? Absolutely. If there are some old laws that need to evolve, just like many others have had to in the past, then it is time. Who owns the wild animals? Does the crown? Does the trapper? I say, maybe the animal owns its own life?
If given the choice would it want to live? If the law says it is ok to torture and kill one, I certainly have the right to try to save one.
Let’s make some changes. Lets rise to a better humanity. Stop this barbaric practice. Its past due.