A Port Coquitlam woman is urging her neighbours to take more care when setting rat traps after two raccoons that frequent her backyard were maimed by the devices.
Midge Tack, who lives near Terry Fox secondary, said she first noticed one of the animals had the serrated metal clamp crushing its front leg a couple of weeks ago. The paw eventually came off and a second animal appeared to lose a few digits after it was also caught in a trap.
"The rat trap can take off the foot entirely," she told The Tri-City News, who visited the property and saw the raccoons on Friday afternoon. "I have not slept in the week that I have known about this."
The injured raccoons are part of a family of five that began turning up in her yard earlier this spring. Tack's property backs on to a riparian area and she said it is not uncommon for critters to venture into her garden.
She said she wants people to think twice before purchasing rat traps and consider the damage they can do to other animals in the neighbourhood.
"My understanding is the serrated edge is meant to cut the rat in half," she said. "It's terrible."
Tack has contacted Critter Care, who has set three humane traps in the neighbourhood to potentially cage the injured animals.
If they are caught, Nathan Wagstaffe, a care supervisor with the animal welfare organization, said they could receive veterinary assistance. Depending on how severe the injuries, the raccoons could re-enter the wild, however the chances of them surviving a full lifespan is reduced because of the difficulties climbing and foraging for food.
"We will assess the injuries and decide the treatment course," Wagstaffe said.
Critter Care constantly gets animals that have been hurt by rat traps, he added, noting the Tom Cat Rat Trap is particularly problematic and should be banned.
"It happens extremely frequently," he said. "We just did a post on Facebook regarding a skunk that came in two days ago with its paw almost ripped off by one of these traps."
If a resident needs to set a rat trap, he said they should use the old fashioned wood and wire variety, which most animals are able to free themselves from if they spring the device.
"Most species can pull them open and pull their hand out," he said. "The way these Tom Cats work, you have to squeeze them and the animals don't understand how to do that. They are unable to and they end up losing their foot or it gets infected."