Unintended ‘Leg Hold’ Trapping of Fox on Briscoe Road Prompts Concerns


After a leg hold trap inadvertently caught a red fox in New Canaan on Wednesday morning, officials are cautioning residents who authorize use of the devices on their properties to ensure that non-targeted animals aren’t suffering needlessly in them.

A red fox caught in a 'leg hold' trap on a private Briscoe Road property on the morning of Jan. 13, 2016. Due to a neighbor's intervention, the animal was set free by the hired trapper. Rosemary DeClue photo, published with her permission.

A red fox caught in a ‘leg hold’ trap on a private Briscoe Road property on the morning of Jan. 13, 2016. Due to a neighbor’s intervention, the animal was set free by the hired trapper. Rosemary DeClue photo, published with her permission.

Rosemary DeClue of Briscoe Road notified the New Canaan Police Department’s Animal Control section after spotting the fox caught in a next-door neighbor’s trap that was meant for coyotes, just over her property line.

DeClue said she had noticed a contraption of some sort, set in plain view from her home, near a wood pile, but wasn’t sure what it was until about 8 a.m. Wednesday morning when “all the sudden, I saw something jumping around and it was a fox caught in a trap.”

The owner of a Labrador retriever and two smaller dogs (Havanese), DeClue said she’s concerned about her own dogs getting past her fence and into the trap and that she opposes trapping in principle.

“No one knows how long this fox was there,” she said. DeClue remained outside until her neighbor’s hired trapper arrived and set the fox free, she said.

Animal Control Officer Allyson Halm said she visited the site of the trapping and that no violations occurred, though she warned that animals such as raccoons, possums, fishers, bobcats, dogs and cats perhaps “shouldn’t be subjected to the risk of being trapped in their own ‘home,’ because our land is their home, too.”

“The consequences are detrimental to ‘innocent’ animals” including coyotes, Halm said, and in this overall mild winter many of those species are out and about in greater numbers than usual.

No one is accusing DeClue’s neighbor of breaking the law—the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection lays out regulations for trapping on page 44 of its Hunting & Trapping Guide, here. Coyotes may be hunted year-round except for May, and there’s no limit to how many may be taken, under state law.

Even so, Peter Reid, associate director of Wildlife In Crisis, a Weston-based wildlife rehabilitation organization, called leg hold traps “inhumane” and said it’s “unfortunate” that they are legal in Connecticut.

“The dangers, of course, are that you will catch a non-target animal, so in some cases dogs are vulnerable, we have had a lot of birds of prey, vultures with leg hold traps on them, hawks,” Reid said. “They are baiting these with meat. So you have situations where in some cases protected birds are being trapped. I have heard of cases where pet dogs have been trapped. And so it is kind of an indiscriminate method in putting trap out.”

What’s more, he said, the traps are ineffective vis-à-vis coyote populations.

“Even if you kill a coyote, they are not vulnerable to trapping in terms of numbers: As soon as you trap one, it opens up a void and another coyote fills it,” Reid said. “So trying to reduce the coyote population by trapping is analogous to trying to bail out the ocean.”

Meanwhile, DeClue said she has implored her neighbor to cease the practice of trapping and is unhappy that the leg hold traps themselves have been set in plain view from inside her own dining room and breakfast nook—from where she has seen a trapper approach a trap where a coyote has been caught, and dispatch the animal by firing a bullet into its head.

“I do not care to see it,” she said.

A spokesman for the DEEP said that after talking to a different neighbor of the property owner with the traps, an officer from the agency spoke to the trapper (officially known as a “nuisance wildlife control officer”).

That trapper “told us he was hired to trap and remove coyotes from the property,” according to Dennis Schain, communications director for the DEEP.

“He said he would change the location of the trap so it is not so close to the neighbor’s property,” Schain said.

8 thoughts on “Unintended ‘Leg Hold’ Trapping of Fox on Briscoe Road Prompts Concerns

  1. What kind of a fool puts leg traps on their property? Not only is it A terrible way to get rid of coyotes, it can trap any animal, wild or domestic, that crosses its path. And why do these coyotes need to be tortured and slaughtered in the first place?

  2. I am happy to see coyotes captured and killed as they pose a risk to domestic pets and, conceivably, to small humans. Foxes do not as far as I know so the capture of this fox was unfortunate and I am glad that it appears it was freed unharmed.

    I had understood that foxes do not co-habitate with Coyotes but this article appears to indicate that they do – does anyone know?

  3. We are fortunate to have Ms. Allyson Halm, a sensible and humane person, as our Animal Control Officer. Just as she says “…our land is their home, too.” Pet lovers will better protect them by keeping them in close view and not allowing them to wander. IF nuisance trapping must be done, there are humane cages which allow relocation, if advisable, of the trapped animal. Live and let live.

  4. There are two sides to this arguement but I think that we have to learn to live with the coyotes. They are part of the natural landscape and are helpful in trying to control the deer population. You can’t select which animals you want on your property and which you don’t. Of course you can fence your property, but maybe a better solution is to move to the city.

  5. Coyotes rarely will take to a box trap. Relocation is against CT law for K-9, Skunks and raccoon’s due to rabies. Coyotes have become a huge problem in Ct. When you talk to people that watched a Yote eat their cat or elderly are afraid to go outside, you may change your mind about them being cuddly .

    • Does K-9 mean “dogs”? What about cats? If an animal is not rabid, can they be relocated? Or, do the people qualified to release just take the easy way out? Thanks for your response to my question.

  6. I also cleaned up over 20 packets of what I believe to be poisoned food on Briscoe Rd. This indiscriminate approach to wildlife control is not safe. My dog has run away a few times (always returned so far) and I wonder what would happen if she found this food.

    If someone has a beef with coyotes, they should safeguard their kids and pets, not go around killing the wildlife.

    • Animal lovers appreciate your effort cleaning up that poisoned food. Ignorant, mean people put “killing” food out. So glad your dog safely returned home this time. You have the answer: “Safeguard” kids and pets.

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