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Frigid Temperatures Can Cause Hypothermic Conditions for Trapped Wildlife

Extreme low temperatures of -32F have been recorded in Wyoming over the last week. Bobcat paws, when caught in leg-hold traps, can freeze if wind chill dips to -10F or below. ”Typical foot hold traps and snares often produce some level of complete or partial restriction of blood flow to the limb distal to the mechanism and/or damage at some level to the tissues at the gripping point. Adding extreme hypothermic conditions would presumably make the situation worse.” Winston Vickers, DVM, MPVM, Associate Veterinarian, Wildlife Health Center, UC Davis

Current Wyoming regulations allow up to a 72 hour trap-check for legholds, and up to 13 days in a snare or conibear. In extreme weather conditions, trappers should ALWAYS check their traps within 24 hours to prevent extreme frostbite and additional suffering.

Read more about the effect of damage from ambient temps:

“Both issues, appropriate temps for trapping and frequency of checks deserve a lot more discussion than has occurred to date in the wildlife research community in my view.
Of course on the issue of ambient temps, one is assuming that at either high or low temps animals in the environment have coping mechanisms to handle them. However, when confined the animal may not be able to use some mechanisms such as seeking the coolest shade or water for high temps, or warmer den environments in cold temps. …….. it is incumbent upon us to not allow the animal to be in confinement long enough for temperatures to be damaging. So time-in-trap becomes the first area that we can minimize through protocols and technology.” Winston Vickers

Photo courtesy of Jason Williams, Jackson Hole Wildlife Safaris. A Madison River, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming bobcat, living wild and free, and lucky to find a trap-free territory in a national park.

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