‘Shocking’ video appears to show horse carcass used as bait outside Merritt, B.C.

Click to play video: 'Video appearing to show dead horse used as bait raises questions in B.C'
Video appearing to show dead horse used as bait raises questions in B.C
Ethical questions are surrounding a trapline in the Merritt area, after a hiker came across a dead horse used for bait. As Paul Johnson reports, it's not illegal, but animal advocates are disturbed – Feb 15, 2024

WARNING: This story contains graphic details that may disturb some readers. Discretion is advised.

Footage from a trail camera on Crown land outside Merritt, B.C., is raising eyebrows among some animal rights advocates, appearing to show a trapper using a dead horse as bait for large predators.

The video dated in December shared with Global News shows a horse in the woods with its entrails exposed. Produced and captioned by the Toronto-based Animal Justice, it also contains footage of a man with a gun walking around the horse.

The captions state that traps were set near the horse’s decomposing body. At different times, stitched together by the animal law charity, the man appears to set traps near the horse’s entrails, and to have shot a coyote and dragged it away in a sled.

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Controversial wolf kill program photos released by B.C. government

“We find it shocking that an entire horse carcass was being used as bait for a trap. I have never seen this before and I’m not aware of this being a practice,” lawyer Camille Labchuk, Animal Justice director, said in an interview.

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“There are environmental rules about the management of carcasses of animals who died in farm or private situations and how they must be properly disposed of to ensure there’s no contamination, to prevent other predators or dangerous animals from being attracted by those animals and coming into populated areas. To us it certainly raises major concerns under environmental law that this horse carcass is simply rotting away on Crown land.”

Labchuk said she also had questions about how the animal died and was transported to the site.

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Animal Justice filed complaints with both the BC SPCA and the BC Conservation Officer Service (BC COS).

In an emailed statement, the BC SPCA confirmed it had received the complaint. One of its officers met with Merritt RCMP, which had the trail cameras, and a Mountie provided the contact information for the conservation officer overseeing the file.

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“The CO stated the Person of Interest had been dealing with wolves in the area attacking livestock,” wrote Eileen Drever, senior officer of protection and stakeholder relations for the BC SPCA.

“The horse was shot with a single gunshot to the head, there was no suffering. Apparently, horses are permitted to be used as bait, as they do not carry the same disease as cattle/pigs.”

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The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, which gives the organization its inspection and enforcement powers, only applies to wildlife in capacity.

By email, the BC COS confirmed it’s aware of the incident and “investigating allegations of illegal trapping in the Merritt area,” which it takes “seriously.”

“As the investigation is ongoing, we are unable to provide any comment,” the service wrote.

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The BC Trappers Association did not return a request for comment by deadline.

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