LIVE OAK – A squirrel has been euthanized after a resident discovered the rodent was struggling with two different miniature flytraps clamped to its limbs on Sunday night.
Now, a non-profit wildlife emergency response group has set up a cash reward for the arrest and conviction of whoever set the illegal steel leg traps. Wildlife Emergency Services is offering an initial reward of $1,000 and is seeking support to increase its reward offering.
The squirrel, found by Live Oak resident Alysa Rowe, was still mobile and able to climb fences and trees by the time she was able to corner him and bring him to Native Animal Rescue for treatment and removed from traps. Rowe said she enlisted the help of family and neighbors to surround the squirrel and hold it in a box as it became entangled in a nearby tree. Ignoring the suffering animal, she said, was simply not an option.
“He was rolling instead of walking, he really couldn’t walk at all. At first I thought he had a broken leg,” Rowe said. “But then I saw the two traps, which on this squirrel looked pretty big.”
The traps, with crescent-shaped mouths about 3 inches wide, were reportedly set in the area of Felt Street, Corcoran Street, Paget Avenue or 24th Avenue in Live Oak. Todd Stosuy, animal control services manager for the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter, said these traps are banned in the state of California and many other states, “because they cause so much pain and suffering”. Those found guilty of setting such traps could face fines of at least $300 to $2,000 or a year in prison, in addition to animal cruelty sentences, Stosuy said.
After the squirrel was brought to the attention of animal control, Stosuy said an officer was dispatched to the neighborhood to knock on doors and check backyards for similar traps. The officer, however, could not locate the owner of the traps, he said. Stosuy said that beyond the illegality and threat of the traps to wildlife, they could also injure and maim pets or young children. He described the unanchored traps as latching onto the squirrel’s front and left hind legs and cutting through the flesh to the bone.
Due to the extent of the squirrel’s injuries, authorities elected to humanely euthanize the rodent, Stosuy said.
Wildlife Emergency Services founder Rebecca Dmytryk said the steel leg traps are different from other types of quick-kill rodent “snap traps” commonly found on the market.
“No one, not even a licensed trapper, is allowed to set traps for wild animals like squirrels without following California’s fairly strict trapping rules, which would effectively prohibit anyone from setting a trap within 150 meters from another person’s house without their written consent,” Dmytryk said. “There are ways to control pest wildlife without taking lethal action.”
Dmytryk, who also operates a private pest control business, said the basic principle of effective rodent control is to remove or reduce the attractiveness of resident yards. Killing one troublemaking rodent only opens the door to the next, she said.
Community members with information related to the case are asked to contact Stosuy, the Santa Cruz County Animal Control Officer, at [email protected]