Officials say they’re concerned for the welfare of a deer that appears to be dragging a “leghold trap” from one of its hind legs.
The young buck dragging the trap was spotted Tuesday on Pequot Lane, according to Officer Allyson Halm, head of the New Canaan Police Department’s Animal Control section.
“He wasn’t moving too quickly,” Halm told NewCanaanite.com. “It was a pretty large trap and you could see the leg was swollen compared to the other one.”
The traps use a footplate and curved jaws that snap onto animals that spring them. Halm said the traps are not supposed to be placed where deer can get into them.
It isn’t clear where the deer stepped on the trap or how long he’s been suffering.
A state Environmental Conservation or ‘EnCon’ officer did respond to Halm’s report of the distressed animal, in hopes of immobilizing the deer with a tranquilizer and removing the trap, she said. Unfortunately, however, the animal could not be located.
“I am hoping the deer will be spotted again and the officers can come down with their equipment and we can resolve it,” she said.
Halm added that she has serious concerns not only about the pain the animal is certainly suffering but also about the buck’s ability to survive while hampered by the trap. The trap will both restrict his movement and make him highly audible prey for coyotes. Unless he’s found and freed, such predators “will just wear him down,” she said.
“It’s very sad,” she said. “Very hard to watch. The people that called it in were devastated and frustrated that there was not a lot we could do.”
Halm said she’s hoping that the trap itself is tagged so that it can be traced to the individual who set it.
In Connecticut, the law that empowers the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to regulate the trapping of fur-bearing animals includes provisions such as that snares are not allowed, no steel trap may be set within 100 feet of a permanent building, traps must be checked every 24 hours and trappers seeking to work on private land must obtain written permission annually from property owners before doing so. Violating the provisions of the law could rise to the level of a misdemeanor criminal offense. The DEEP further regulates trapping based on type of trap, target animal, pan tension and bait, and notes that “traps must be securely anchored to the ground.”
New Canaan has seen problems with leghold traps in the recent past. Two years ago, a coyote could be seen dragging one from its leg over a period of a weeks around northern New Canaan. Three years ago,, the unintended leg hold-trapping of a red fox on Briscoe Road led to an effort among concerned residents who urged town officials to consider a local ordinance banning the practice. Ultimately, a subcommittee of the Town Council, after consulting with the town attorney, found that New Canaan could not pass an ordinance that went against a state law.
In January 2017, a state legislator tried to introduce a bill that would allow individual municipalities to decide whether such “leghold” or “foothold” traps are allowed in their towns, rather than the state.
Halm said she wondered whether the trap that the deer is now dragging around was set by an amateur.
“I would beg them to stop and get better trained,” she said.