A beautiful Sunday morning (July 24) in Lake Cowichan was marred for some by an act of animal cruelty.
Nick Epp-Evans, from Ladysmith, and his two children were launching their vessel from Lake Cowichan’s boat launch along with a number of other recreational boaters when a truck pulled up on the dock.
Epp-Evans said a man stepped out of the truck with a trap cage containing a very alive and active black squirrel.
“Looking very proud of himself, in front of my two kids and some others that were there, the man threw the cage into the water to deliberately drown the creature,” he said.
“He left the cage in the water for about three minutes and when he pulled it out, the squirrel was lying flat and obviously dead. Nobody could believe what was happening and many were shocked by what they saw. My kids were in a state of disbelief and my daughter had tears in her eyes.”
Epp-Evans said a woman confronted the man and he yelled that he could have gassed or shot the squirrel instead.
“He wasn’t being very aggressive, but it was clear to me that he did it for attention because he was proud as a peacock when he was doing it and seemed to have deliberately chosen the spot because there were a lot of people around,” he said.
“He definitely wanted a confrontation with someone. After his conversation with the lady who confronted him, he put the cage with the dead squirrel in it back in the truck and drove away. The lady was upset and wrote down the truck’s registration number. Everyone else was too shocked by the incident to do anything at the time. The people on the boat launch, including ourselves, were out to enjoy the beautiful day and then this very negative thing just happened.”
The RCMP detachment in Lake Cowichan said it had received no reports of the incident, but if any witnesses want to file a report, they can contact the detachment.
Kaley Pugh, the BC SPCA’s regional manager of cruelty investigations on Vancouver Island, also said there was no official report made to the SPCA on the incident.
She said investigations into such occurrences can be difficult to pursue, but receiving good and accurate information from the public helps ease the process.
Pugh said people can call the SPCA’s cruelty hotline at 855-622-7722 to report instances of cruelty to animals and they will be investigated.
“People are allowed to trap and kill squirrels in B.C., but acceptable methods must be used and drowning them is not considered humane,” Pugh said.
“Technically, the man in this incident could be prosecuted for animal cruelty.”
Pugh said there are other ways to deal with problem squirrels, as well as other problem wildlife, that doesn’t involve drowning or killing them, and the BC SPCA has a list of recommended methods on its website.
For, example, she said people with problems with squirrels and other wildlife in their chimneys or garages can control the animal’s access points.
“There are also humane ways to harass animals into relocating, including the use of lights, radios and even apple-cider vinegar,” Pugh said.
“Trapping and relocating them are not generally recommended because it’s risky and often not humane. People can also call pest control companies and we have a list of reputable ones on our website.”