The animal rescuers at Langley's Critter Care Wildlife Society were called out Saturday to a disturbingly common complaint: an animal in a leg-hold trap.
The owners of a blueberry farm in the 35000 block of Beaton Road in Abbotsford found a wounded coyote on Monday.
His left front leg was caught in a padded leg hold trap. The wire that would have secured the trap had been torn loose from its original spot, and had wrapped around a bush. The coyote was unable to free itself.
After trying to free the animal themselves, the owners called Critter Care.
"He was emaciated, dehydrated," said Angela Fontana, the senior animal care supervisor at the centre.
The responders freed the coyote and took him back to their centre, but they had already decided he would likely have to be put down.
"His leg was mangled; he had been trying to chew it off," said Fontana.
There was little left of the front leg, as the paw had been twisted around 360 degrees, the leg bone was completely broken, and the wound was rotting.
The wound reeked of infection, Fontana said, and the animal had likely been trapped for between two and seven days when he was found.
The coyote didn't make a noise during the ordeal, as they are usually very quiet animals.
"You could definitely see the fear in his eyes," Fontana said.
The animal was euthanized at the wildlife centre.
Even if he had been able to survive his lack of food and water, the loss of a leg, and the infection, his future outlook would not have been not good, Fontana said.
"A three-legged coyote doesn't stand much of a chance in the wild," Fontana said.
Most of Critter Care's animals return to the wild. The centre has a few permanent resident animals, mostly too injured to ever be fully rehabilitated, or raised by humans, but they release everything from black bears to flying squirrels after medical care.
The staff at Critter Care don't know where the trap came from, or why someone in Abbotsford set it out.
What they do know is that the use of traps has seen a strange spike around the Lower Mainland in the last year.
In February an animal was found in a trap in Chilliwack, a few weeks ago the RCMP in Langley spotted a raccoon in a trap in Walnut Grove - Critter Care workers couldn't locate it - and in January there was an incident in Richmond.
"It's been an increase and it's shocking," Fontana said.
The Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals, a B.C. advocacy group, is calling for provincial action in light of the recent incidents.
"These traps are being set in areas that are known to be frequented by families - including small children and pets - with no signage or warning," said Lesley Fox, the association's executive director. "These traps are not being monitored or set as required by law."
It's unclear why traps are being set in suburban areas.
In April last year, the Langley Advance reported on a family who were surprised to find a dead raccoon in a trap in their back yard.
At the time, Conservation Officer Jack Trudgian told the Advance that laying a leg-hold trap requires a permit and a week of training with the BC Trapper's Association. Experienced trappers would rarely set a trap in an urban area.
Those caught using traps without a licence can be charged under the Wildlife Act and have their equipment seized.
Local municipalities, including Langley Township, trap some nuisance animals, but it's more common to use live traps.