For those who may not be familiar with leg hold traps and their cruelty, please refer to the video below, in which a researcher demonstrates their use on various items.
Then, when the poor owl FINALLY made it LWR, said trapper had him stuffed in a feed sack and locked in the tool box on his truck. Yeah, real humane guy. When I transferred the owl to a box and quickly examined his legs, I found exactly what I expected: bloody, shattered limbs that were a death sentence for the poor owl. At this point, the trapper’s wife, in a lovely demonstration of “concern”, screeched, “Oh, his legs are broken? Can you fix ‘em?”
I explained that with both the owl’s legs having been caught in their damned trap, between the shredded flesh and shattered bones, the best I was likely to be able to offer the owl was a humane end to his suffering. Then the trapper himself, sounding a bit like Pilate facing the angry mob, said, “Well, it’s off me now. Whatever you do is your business.”
I bit my tongue really hard, gave him a look that should have killed him on the spot, and headed to my car, carefully handling the box to avoid any additional pain to the owl, radiating hostility in their direction. They knew I was furious, and I think they thought I was gonna put the owl down and come back for them, as they hopped into their truck, glancing over at me the entire time, as I eased the box into my car and glared at them again.
And making matters worse a hundredfold, this is breeding/nesting season for great horned owls. If this poor fellow’s mate had eggs in the nest, she’ll now have to leave them to find food for herself, as her mate is now dead. The eggs will get chilled and not hatch. If she had babies in the nest, she’ll have to leave them to find food for them and herself, leaving them at risk of hypothermia (freezing to death) or predation. So yeah, the trapper condemned an entire great horned owl family to death with one fell swoop.
Folks, these traps need to be outlawed. I don’t care if you’re a properly licensed commercial trapper or not; the fact remains that these contraptions are cruel. Unintended victims get caught him them, as this poor owl did, and they suffer untold agony until the trapper shows up to shoot them. Even if the traps caught only their intended victims, the fact remains that they’re cruel and create unnecessary suffering.
Of course, there was nothing to be done but euthanize the owl, but I took him to Smalley’s Animal Hospital because I wanted x-rays of the damage those infernal traps had done.
For the squeamish, skip the next few photos; they’re pretty gruesome. The leg photos were taken post-euthanasia.
The male was found sitting in the middle of the road in a rainstorm and was so out of it that his rescuer was able to scoop him up barehanded and wrap him in his coat. On intake, he was well-fleshed and nothing appeared broken, but he was lethargic and his right eye was swollen shut. We had a massively concussed bird on our hands.
The mature red shoulder, however, was just an old bird on her way out. She was thin but not emaciated, alert but weak, had good mouth color, and based on her legs, which show age more easily on birds, she was just an old matriarch who’d reached the end of the line. She ate only a tiny bit at a time and spit most of it back up, much like the very old great blue heron did toward the end of last year. And she died the night of intake, so basically, LWR provided hospice for her.