By Andrea Arnold

Concern regarding traps being set in the vicinity of Gaglardi Park trails was brought to the attention of McBride Council through two letters at the meeting on May 24, 2022.

A letter from Elaine Gillette commented that there had been two “Active Trapline” signs posted, but her concern was for the safety of those using the trails, especially kids and dogs. She said as users are trying to navigate around the broken bridges (another point of concern), they may come into contact with the traps.

The second letter of concern from Joette Starchuck echoed these concerns, asking whether a dog or child could get caught in a trap.

Chief Administrative Office, Chris Tupy confirmed that yes, there have been traps set in the area, and that the trails in the immediate area were closed prior to the traps being set. He also confirmed that the broken bridges noted in the letter have been removed. 

“The bridges were rotten and collapsing,” said Public Works Operations Manager John Peterson. “They were not not safe. The trail closed signs were placed for the safety of the public. Members of the public need to respect closures. Closures are done for a reason.”

Tupy said the Village does not want to disclose the exact locations of the traps due to a concern that giving exact locations may cause curiosity and further exploration, leading to possible injury. 

“The trapping has only been near the trails that are closed,” said Tupy. “I can confirm that the signs were placed as part of the Village of McBride requirements for safety, and were an approved safety sign, including to have dogs on leash, which should already be occurring as per village bylaws, by the trapper who is legally licenced to trap in this area and at the request of the Village of McBride.”

He said signs had been placed at the beginning of all trails, even closed ones, where traps have been set. 

“If traps are going to be set near an active walking trail, that information would be posted on the village website along with the signs (at the trailhead).”

The traps were below the water surface, so they were not easily seen or accidently located. If the water level dropped and the traps became visible, it was reset below the water or removed. Normally, the traps would only be out during trapping season, but in this case, an extension was put in place due to the proactive prevention of damage to critical Village infrastructure, specifically, the lagoon.

“We’ve been advised from our Engineering firm that muskrats could impact the structural integrity of the berm, which could lead to a significant contamination event,” said Tupy. 

He referenced a situation in 2015 when a culvert washed out leaving the Village’s sewer lines exposed and hanging over Dominion Creek.

“This was caused by beaver dam/jam that impacted flows, which is another example of what the Village is trying to proactively prevent.”

“Muskrats burrow into the walls of the lagoon and could create an environmental hazard,” said Peterson. “Beavers dam the water and cause it to rise, allowing muskrats easier access to the lagoon walls.”

The traps have been removed for the time being, as the water levels rise. However, Operations Manager, John Peterson cautioned that due to the number of muskrats and beaver in the area, the traps will likely be put back in when the water levels drop in the fall.