Monday, May 30, 2011

Trapper Hired by Municipality Kills Bowen Island Wolf-dog

The wolf-dog that had terrorized Bowen Island residents since December was killed with a single shot by a professional trapper on May 26th. Al Starkey (AKA “Trapper Al”), a 72 year old Maple Ridge trapper, was hired by the Bowen Island Municipality after attempts to trap or tranquilize the wolf-dog failed. Several pets, livestock and deer had been killed over the past several months. Residents had been cautioned to take extra care, and had kept children and pets indoors.
Bowen Island does not permit the discharge of firearms, so a special permit was required. Trapper Al selected a farm where the most recent kill had occurred as the site to bait the animal. The morning after his arrival he had sighted and killed it.
In February long time sheep producer Ted Akerman of Salt Spring Island also shot a wolf dog that had killed a dozen of his sheep. He waited in the dark for the wolf-dog to return at first light, quickly sighting and killing it. Salt Spring does allow for the discharge of firearms and according to the the Livestock Act a person may kill a dog if the person finds the dog running at large, and attacking or viciously pursuing livestock.
According to the Livestock Act, the Act and the regulations prevail if there is a conflict between the Act or the regulations and a municipal bylaw. It is not known if the livestock producers were aware that according to the Act they could have shot the wolf-dog themselves.
It is also interesting that on Bowen Island dogs do not have to be licenced, and livestock producers are not compensated for their losses if a dog is not identified. Without a licence, it would be pretty hard to identify the dog unless the owner came forward. This is in contrast to Salt Spring and many other jurisdictions whereby dogs are required to be licenced, and the livestock producers are compensated – sometimes only partially and poorly - by the municipality or regional district if the dog is not identified. In 2003 the Protection of Livestock Act which collected dog licence fees and compensated livestock producers was repealed, and the licencing and compensation was left to the municipalities. The right to shoot a dog chasing and attacking livestock was placed into the Livestock Act. The BC Sheep Federation has begun a scan of bylaws in a variety of jurisdictions regarding compensation for losses due to dog attacks and will be sending a report to the Minister of Agriculture when the report is completed.

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