The Invermere conservation office service is aware of a local incident involving a grizzly bear that appears to have lost some toes due to having its paw caught in a trap. A set of before photographs taken on April 17 by trail cameras set up on private property west of Invermere up Johnson Road reveal the full size grizzly with a small pine marten trap attached to its right paw. Night images captured in the ensuing week of the same bear show the trap gone as well as some of its toes.
“It took a while, but finally the pictures were disclosed to us and our interest was the well-being of that bear,” conservation officer Greg Kruger said. “We wanted to get that trap off.”
After seeing the first set of images, the plan was to capture and tranquilize the bear in order to remove the trap.
“As soon as we were strategizing that, I was given the second set of pictures that show the trap was gone off that bear and either all its toes or a few toes where the trap was locked on,” Kruger said.
Conservation officers have determined the trap is a Conibear trap used to trap pine martens, a weasel-like fur bearing animal common to the area. Lawful trapping on both Crown land and private property takes place all around Invermere, said Kruger.
“There are a lot of designated trap lines,” he said. “There’s a very good chance this bear got into a couple marten sets… because the trapper would use a bait to attract a marten and that same bait attracted this bear.”
From the information he’s gathered, Kruger said it’s likely the trap sprang on the bear late last year when a trapper had traps out for marten.
“There’s a good chance it went into the den with that trap on, and through the winter when it was hibernating, that trap would have cut off the circulation to its toes,” he said.
Kruger said when the bear came out of hibernation with the trap still on, it was likely able to pull it off because the tissue in the toes would have died, losing some in the process.
The second set of photographs that show the trap off also show some healing to the paw, he said.
“We have no idea where this bear is now but we are hoping it’s going to live out its life healthy and stay out of trouble, out of conflict with people,” Kruger said. “If this bear does ever get in conflict with people, then we ask people to report it to us — public safety is our main mandate so we are definitely interested if this bear does become a problem or safety issue.”
Reports to the Columbia Valley Conservation Officer call centre can be made 24/7 by calling 1-877-952-7277.