Caught in a wolf trap, a cat had to be euthanized in Dour: “What if a child had set foot in it?”, worries Marie-Françoise

An impressive device placed along a path. Marie-Françoise and her husband discovered a cat stuck in a wolf trap. The animal had to be euthanized. The couple is worried about the dangerousness of such a practice. Is it legal?

A wolf trap installed on the RAVel in Élouges. This is the discovery made by Marie-Françoise and her husband Guy last February. While Guy is chopping wood near his garden, he is attracted by the meowing of a cat. There, he spots a cat stuck in an animal trap. This stray cat was surprised by this impressive device. His two legs were broken, he had to be euthanized.

“If it was a child who had set foot in it, I don’t know what would have happened. The trap is 18 meters from my house. I have grandchildren who come and play on the embankment. It could have happened to them.”says Marie-Françoise.

This is the first time this grandmother has come across a wolf trap. Concretely, the latter is composed of a metal trigger and wide curved jaws. These are actuated by powerful springs supposed to retain the animal.

After his discovery, the couple contacted the animal welfare association, “Our friends the animals”. According to its president, such events happen frequently. “If we are warned, we try to remove the equipment and see who is the person who is having fun poaching”reports Marcel de Raijmaeker who calls on residents to be careful. “We must not install this kind of system. It’s illegal, we are no longer in the era of poaching”he exclaims.

On his Facebook account, the president also posted a message for local residents. “The police have been notified (…) There are no wolves or ferocious animals in this region”, he writes. Many people are also offended by such a practice. “Where can we walk feeling protected?”wonders Rose. “What a shame! We walk our dogs, we let the children have fun and run around. It’s criminal and totally forbidden”adds a user.

Indeed, the legislation strictly prohibits the installation of these devices. As indicated by a decree modifying the law of February 28, 1882 on hunting, in the Walloon region, it is forbidden to use jaw traps. “The possession, sale and offer for sale of leghold traps is prohibited”, mentioned this decree.

A penalty of 100 to 1,000€

Jean-Francois Duliere, cantonment chief at the DNF (Nature and Forests Department) in Mons, explains the reason for such a ban. “VSis a means of capture which makes the animal suffer and which is not selective”, he enlightens. The holders and users of these traps risk being fined. “The report is sent to the prosecution and the magistrate may, if necessary, impose a sentence ranging from 100 to 1,000 euros”highlighted Jean-Francois Duliere.

Despite the ban, this type of trap is sold at flea markets or on the black market. On the internet, advertisements offering the purchase of this type of trap also exist. “It still circulates sometimes, under the table, traps of this type. It is not frequent but it happens”, specifies the cantonment chief at the DNF.

Since 2016, the wolf has returned to Wallonia. A year later, the Public Service of Wallonia set up the Loup network. Studies have shown that these mammals were present in the Hautes Fagnes. Its presence near Dour, in the province of Hainaut, is excluded. The police have opened an investigation to try to identify the person who installed the one discovered in Élouges.

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