Backcountry enthusiasts are being urged to keep a close eye on their pets after the conservation office received a report of a dog's life-threatening encounter with a trap while out in a popular snowshoeing area.
The dog, her owner, his girlfriend and his brother were out Saturday traveling along the winter route for the Grand Canyon of the Fraser, located in the Sugarbowl-Grizzly Den protected area about 75 kilometres east of the city.
After progressing far enough to be sure she would not run back onto the highway, they let the dog off her leash. They continued on for about another 100 metres with the dog a short distance ahead.
"All of a sudden we hear the yelps of distress, like none of us have ever heard before," the owner said in an email to The Citizen and the conservation office. "My initial thought was that our dog had gotten into a fight with a wolf or coyote.
"We rush over to her and our horror only increases. She's been caught by a hunter's trap. It's completely clamped around her throat, and she's struggling for her life."
The scene put the owner into a state of panic. Fortunately, his girlfriend works well under pressure and was able to find a way to get it open. By firmly gripping two mechanisms, one on each side of the trap, they were able to release the pressure and allow the dog to fight her way out.
"My dog is shook, hurt, and blood drips from her mouth as she stands there in shock," the owner wrote.
But she survived and was taken to a veterinarian.
The group noticed some odd things prior to the trouble - namely a trail camera set up on a tree, tracks from an all-terrain vehicle and what, at first glance, appeared to be a former campfire pit. While on the way back, they discovered that it was actually the remains of an animal with remnants of the carcass littering the area.
Conservation officer Leyland Klassen said the matter has been reported to the service and is being taken seriously. Klassen also said he's been trying to get hold of the dog's owner but so far without success.
However, he said there is a registered trapline in the area. Indeed, he said a majority of the region surrounding Prince George is covered with registered traplines and this is the time of year when trappers are plying their trade.
Stressing he has not yet been able to get details on what kind of trap the dog got caught in, Klassen said such reports are rare because the traps are usually small and set inside boxes.
However, he said it's still possible for a small dog to get snared. Keeping the dog from straying too far away is the best way to avoid the predicament, he advised.
"They obviously have a good sense of smell and there is always a tendency for a dog, no matter how well trained it is, to investigate certain smells," Klassen said. "It's always a good idea to keep your dog close and have it on a leash."