Horror in the forest: are animals being maimed by leg traps?

  • [photo by Debra Sheets]

    Image 1 of 2
    [photo by Debra Sheets]

  • [photo by Debra Sheets]

    Image 2 of 2
    [photo by Debra Sheets]

By Patric Hedlund

Debra Sheets calls him “the tripod bear.” She refers to a black bear she photographed near her home on July 30 that looks as if its right leg has been amputated in the middle. She lives on Zermatt, near Pioneer in the Pine Mountain community. Sheets said in an interview August 20 that the bear is “scrawny” and looks malnourished. On August 13 she took a photo of an injured fawn in the same area.

“The fawn is pathetically thin, and its injured leg looks infected,” the registered nurse said, adding that six animals have been spotted with similar leg injuries in the area.

Patrice Stimpson of Little Bit of Wildlife—a wildlife rescue group authorized to assist sick and injured wild animals—said she took a report of a coyote seen near Yellowstone and has heard of a bobcat with “a mangled leg” near Banff, both in Pine Mountain neighborhoods.

“California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) was called in and I met with our Mt. Pinos District U.S. Forest Service law enforcement officer Brian St. Clair. He is taking this very seriously,” explained Stimpson.

Lt. Patrick Foy of CDFW’s Wildlife Enforcement Division confirmed Wednesday, Aug. 20 that it appears animals are being mutilated by someone with leg hold traps.

“This is unacceptable. We would like any information to identify who that person is,” Foy said. “This has now become an investigation.

“We need your readers’ help on this. If you see a leg- hold trap anyplace, let us know. We need any identifying information on the trap or about anyone associated with a trap. License plate numbers are helpful.”

Call the 24-hour CalTip confidential hot line at: 888.334.2258, and mention this is about Kern County.

Foy links people feeding wildlife with the problem of people harming wildlife.

“In a community like Pine Mountain, 5% actively feed the wildlife [habituating animals to come near homes to seek food]. Another 5% do not like bears and deer coming to their property in search of food. This creates conflicts that exacerbate problems. It is easy to solve. It just requires that people do not feed wildlife,” Lt. Foy said.

Photo captions:

This injured fawn and the bear at right were seen near Pioneer and Zermatt, in the PMC greenbelt.

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This is part of the August 22, 2014 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.

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