Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Iqaluit January 12, 2018 - 2:15 pm

Iqaluit councillors ponder the dangers posed by fox traps

Man’s dog injured on Upper Base not far from built-up area

BETH BROWN
Iqaluit resident Thomas Rohner speaks to Iqaluit city councillors Jan. 9, after his dog was caught last month in a fox trap in the Upper Base area. (PHOTO BY BETH BROWN)
Iqaluit resident Thomas Rohner speaks to Iqaluit city councillors Jan. 9, after his dog was caught last month in a fox trap in the Upper Base area. (PHOTO BY BETH BROWN)
Thomas Rohner's dog Nacho was mostly unharmed after being caught in a trap Dec. 23, but other Iqaluit animals have been badly injured. (PHOTO BY BETH BROWN)
Thomas Rohner's dog Nacho was mostly unharmed after being caught in a trap Dec. 23, but other Iqaluit animals have been badly injured. (PHOTO BY BETH BROWN)

Traps set for foxes in Iqaluit have instead been catching dogs these days.

Iqaluit resident Thomas Rohner told Iqaluit city council on Tuesday, Jan. 9 that he was out walking his dog, Nacho, in the Upper Base area Dec. 23 when the animal’s leg was caught in a fox trap.

To release the pet, a friend held the dog down while Rohner worked to open the trap. 

The dog escaped with minor injuries and swelling, but the veterinarian told Rohner his canine was lucky.

“Where the trap was set, it was concealed. It was not visible even just walking by it. It could have very easily been me, I was walking right beside my dog when it happened. It could have also very easily been a child,” he told city councillors.

Other dogs in Iqaluit haven’t been so fortunate.

A puppy was killed recently when it was caught in a larger trap in the same area of town, and the Iqaluit Humane Society had to send another dog to Ottawa for emergency surgery recently after it was badly injured in a trap.

Rohner said he understands the issue of hunting and trapping restrictions is “divisive,” but he believes there should be a clear city bylaw dealing with trapping in the municipality, and one that is strongly enforced. 
“I don’t think there is any place for hunting traps within city limits where people and pets can easily step into it and be seriously injured,” he said. 

But Mayor Madeleine Redfern said that there are already legal documents that address trapping near town.

She quoted a Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. lawyer, who said: “While Inuit do enjoy hunting and trapping rights within the Nunavut settlement area, there are restrictions for such activities within built-up environments, any place within one mile of a building.”

That’s in line with Article 5 of the Nunavut Agreement, which sets out Inuit harvesting rights. The same principle is reflected in the Nunavut Wildlife Act.

In Rohner’s case, he says he was within 30 feet of a structure.

As well, the City, Towns and Villages Act gives city council the authority to prohibit trapping within municipal limits.

Redfern said the issue has come before council in the past, but little has been done.

She was to have met with the Amarok hunters and trappers association on Thursday, Jan. 11 to discuss the issue and look at the possibility of making a joint statement to the public.

But some councillors are concerned about a bylaw that would restrict hunting rights.

“I need to think more about how to approach this issue, because it involves your pet, and my right to hunt,” Coun. Joanasie Akumalik said. 

Coun. Simon Nattaq said the area Rohner spoke of used to be open tundra, so people are used to using it for trapping.

But he also said newer traps used in recent years are far more dangerous.

“New traps are built to humanely and instantly kill an animal,” Nattaq said.

In light of this, Redfern flagged safety as the primary concern when it comes to traps near publicly used areas. 

“It is a public safety issue. The land claim does state that there is no hunting, harvesting and trapping within one mile of a building, probably to attempt to address that balance of issues between allowing Inuit the right to harvest, but also to ensure that public safety is paramount,” she said. 

“This is not an Inuit versus Qallunaat issue. Inuit also own pets. There have been other Inuit who have had their dogs caught in traps within municipal boundaries. There are also people who do go berry picking up in that area.”

Deputy Mayor Romeyn Stevenson said the city should take some ownership of the issue.

“I think we need an off-leash area for dogs. Currently there is no place in the city of Iqaluit where people are allowed to run their dogs,” Stevenson said.

A Jan. 9 letter from the Iqaluit Humane Society—presented by Rohner to councillors—described a dog that was flown to Ottawa for surgery after being badly wounded in a snare.

“The puppy had broken off nearly all of its teeth trying to free itself and did additional damage to its leg while in the process,” the humane society president, Janelle Kennedy, wrote in the letter.
“All of us at the Iqaluit Humane Society are shocked and saddened by the injuries reported by pet owners these last few weeks; injuries and pet deaths caused by unmarked leg holds, snares and larger traps set within city limits, close to buildings and in recreational areas,” the letter states.

“We hope that the city council finds a way to inform the public of this issue and involve all relevant authorities to improve the community’s awareness and prepare measures for prevention of injury.”

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