The wolf killers of Elk Pass

If you ski from the top of Elk Pass under the powerline into BC(the route to Elk Lakes cabin), you’ll see the disturbing signs of the depraved killers proudly displayed within the first 100 metres.

On weekends, there’s a good chance you’ll see or hear these miscreants with their expensive snowmobiles and weapons looking to kill trophy wolves.

The trail to Elk Lakes cabin in BC near the top of Elk Pass

The trail to Elk Lakes cabin in BC near the top of Elk Pass

A few metres from the Elk Pass picnic table, the cruelty of human beings is being manifested in the barbaric practice of trapping not just wolves, but any unsuspecting animal, perhaps a cougar, lynx, bobcat, fox, coyote, or even an eagle or raven.

When I took the photo a few weeks ago, there were snowmobile tracks everywhere on the BC side.

The top of Elk Pass looking into British Columbia

The top of Elk Pass looking into British Columbia

The BC trappers set their instruments of torture close to the border because they know the wolves do not respect any boundaries, and are attracted by the smelly bait.

The trapped wolf endures a painful and panic-filled wait until they either die from exhaustion, blood loss, dehydration, hypothermia, or are clubbed, choked or stomped to death by the trapper (so as not to damage the pelt).

Alternatively, it’s been well-documented that animals have chewed their foot off to escape a trap.

"A grinning trapper striking a pose beside his catch, a live 100-pound wolf in northern Idaho. The wolf is coal-black and appears to be hobbling around a ring of blood-stained snow, its leg caught in a foot-hold trap." The trapper's name is Josh Bransford and incredibly, he is an employee of Idaho's Dept. of Fish and Game

A grinning trapper striking a pose beside his catch, a live 100-pound wolf in northern Idaho. The wolf is coal-black and appears to be hobbling around a ring of blood-stained snow, its leg caught in a foot-hold trap. The trapper’s name is Josh Bransford. It’s rumoured that bystanders with rifles used the wolf for target practice, consequently all the blood.

The Peter Lougheed Provincial Park wolves are protected from hunting and trapping while in the park, but if they step one foot over the provincial boundary, it’s open season on the BC side.

In Alberta, we have no reason to be indignant because the same thing happens every day in our province on the outskirts of Banff National Park, and in all unprotected areas of the province. I will give Alberta credit for protecting the area known as Spray Valley Provincial Park in 2003 which we pass through on our way to PLPP. It’s one less place where wolves can be killed. The alpha female of the Peter Lougheed pack was shot in that area by an elk hunter in 2000 before it was protected.

“Traditions” such as trapping belong on the ash heap, right next to slavery, dog fighting, and other activities that were once considered an acceptable part of people’s heritage.

How would you describe the look on Josh Bransford’s face? What personality disorder would it take for a man to do this, and take pleasure in it? You can read more about this incident Idaho wolf trapper. The most disturbing element of this whole story is that everything he did is legal. 

Despite being banned by many countries around the world, as well as Florida, Rhode Island, New Jersey and Arizona, the leg-hold trap is still legal in every province and territory in Canada (only leg-holds with ‘teeth’ have been prohibited).


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  1. Well: I have the feeling that all this debate has started with my personal comment about those marvelous images of a lynx still alive and who know for how long. I personally have been involved 3 years ago with an organization by the name of WOLF MATTERS and I collected 7000 signature around businesses in the city of Calgary including Community natural food, Lifesport, Valentine Volvo and others, the petition has been recently addressed at the provincial legislature and it is specifically aiming at banninig inhumane treatment of animals including trapping particularly wolves who have taken the burden of being made responsible for the rapid decline of caribou in the Little Smoky area.
    There are plenty of evidences of widespread cruelty, from aerial shooting to snare trapping as well as the practice of burning the dens were newborn pups have been spotted.
    To someone who participated to this debate and claims that all this is part of conservation, the reply is obvious and the overwhelming majority of who voiced their opinion against cruelty to animals confirm that only someone who is severely mentally disturbed is capable of approving and practicing such activities therefore I personally applaud who came out in the open and manifested their disgust .
    Until one’s deeply understands and learn how to unconditionally love and respect all animals, one’s soul remains unawaken.
    I thank you Bob for being the locomotive of such train that will bring the message of understanding in coexisting with other living creatures while enjoying the sublime activity of skiing; I thank all of you who don’t associate
    with cruelty and fully understand the crucial role of all the creatures who are part of the ecosystem as indispensable and irreplaceable.

  2. Thierry Nolevaux

    Trapping is cruel and should not be allowed at all. It’s a business which helped build our nation but is no longer required. Reminds me of my childhood growing up in Africa where people used snares to capture their food. Ever see a Zebra caught in a neck snare and try to break out? In these cases it’s a matter of survival but sport hunting should never be allowed. Big game hunters are usually people who have too much money and time and they take advantage of people and countries who are at a disadvantage economically. These are sick individuals who have not respect for god’s work or life in general. Not sure why you call trapping an animal and then killing it hunting. There is no respect for the animal. If you want to watch a real hunt, check out the San bushmen on a kudu hunt….these guys are real hunters…..track for hours if not days and then kill with a poisoned arrow…none of the animal is wasted. That’s a real challenge. Big game hunters are cowards who use powerful weapons and have an advantage….reminds me of Congolese soldiers who needed food and used AK 47’s to kill hundreds of hippos in Virunga National Park because they had no food.

  3. Torture is not culture.

  4. Education and awareness will hopefully change these practices. When wildlife sightings are rare and special and much talked about. Thank you for posting and helping to raise awareness.

  5. Thank you for your post(s), Bob. Personally, I don’t agree with ANY hunting of wild animals, under the umbrella of sport or “food”, but trapping is truly barbaric and has NO place in this or any other area. I struggle with the concept that it is for humans to re-balance nature by managing wildlife numbers, since so frequently it is humans who screwed up the balance to begin with. Not sure what the answer is there….. I also think that you most certainly have every right/responsibility to post your thoughts on YOUR BLOG! To opine that unless you are reporting ski conditions you have no voice is absurd.

  6. Anyone who sets these traps deserves the same fate as the animals caught, these people are sick.

  7. Hey Bob. How do you know that these traps are intended for wolves? I was aware that both logging and trapping are allowed on the south sides of Elk Pass (indeed there is active logging underway there not far from the Elk Lakes cabin). Am I correct that the photo of the trapper you posted was probably not from our local area, and that the accompanying text similarly was an extract from elsewhere?

    I too would like to know more about the rationale for permitting legal trapping in this particular area, and more about who these trappers are. Do they in fact make their living from such trapping?

    • Ken, I was reading a trapper’s internet forum and when a potential trapper asked what a wolf pelt was worth, someone replied, “better money sellin’ pop bottles.” An average wolf pelt fetched $144.31 in 2014.

      When you consider the snowmobile the trapper is using costs $10,000 – $15,000, I think we can safely assume this is a bloody hobby.

      Wolves are the prize catch.

      I explicitly mentioned the trapper was from Idaho, but his attitude is pervasive among that ilk.

      Read the trapper’s forums on the internet if you want to throw up.

      The trappers who are using this area are from Elkford, Sparwood, and Fernie.

      • Bob… I took your advice (to read the trapper’s forums). Found a lot of content about taxidermy and tanning, and discussion about “humane” methods and processes. Can’t say I was particularly appalled.

        BTW — I’m not a trapper, and I wouldn’t be at all upset if trapping was made illegal in many (or most) places. But I’m not prepared to just blindly condemn people that I don’t know anything about. From reading the forums, I can not say that there was anything to tell me that trappers are “cowardly, inadequate, insecure men”.

        I did read and paste below the “Mission Statement” from one site:
        Mission Statement (edited)
        As we have inherited our great trapping heritage, so too have we inherited the responsibility of carrying out our wonderful sport in an ethical manner.
        Our goal is also to provide the information necessary to enable the novice trapper to learn the techniques of constructing sets, humanely dispatching animals, fur handling, etc.
        Our goal is to encourage today’s trappers to join their national, and state trapping associations. By joining these organizations, we strengthen our numbers for battle against those who would take this great sport from us.
        It’s imperative that we show the public who we are and the good we are doing for the wildlife. Always keep in mind that we are the true protectors of wildlife and the wild places in which the animals live.
        Our goal is to keep the sport of trapping alive to pass on to the next generation by keeping the trapper abreast of any impending legislation that may threaten our sport and suggest the proper action the trapper can take on any such legislation.
        Our goal here is to teach trappers. In the pursuit of educating trappers, we respectfully request that no anti trapping rhetoric or any such input that does not promote the education of trappers in the ethics and techniques of trapping be posted.

  8. Thanks for posting that, Bob. I’m sure you will not lose any sponsorship or readership – certainly not mine! Cheers and see you next fall!

  9. Not use to reading such blatant, one-sided propaganda on; would have been nice to interview someone from Alberta Conservation and Hunter Education to present a balanced view that touches on why hunting wolves is about wildlife management and conservation! It really is!! But then you first need to step away from the emotional quandary perpetrated by the uneducated self-righteous activists who have an allergic reaction every time they see a hunting sign! Let me know please if this website has changed focus, as I can always find other informational sources for my X-country skiing. How do your sponsors feel about this post; for example, those that regularly provide food, clothing and accommodation to hunters? Just saying!!

    • Ben, I’m not against hunting. I am against the cruelty of trapping and making animals suffer for our pleasure and entertainment. I understand that you and the trappers have a different moral compass than I do, and that’s your prerogative.

      I believe the sponsors on my website are ethical and principled people, but in any event, I won’t sell out for the almighty dollar. As the famous saying goes, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, but loses his soul?”

      In case you hadn’t noticed, ski season is over, but when you find the website which will give you up-to-date xc ski conditions, let me know so I can visit it, too. It’s a lot of work maintaining this site.

      Furthermore, I care about my readers, and this issue is relevant at this time of year because the traps are a danger to any hikers going off trail, or to to their dogs who are attracted by the bait.

      As for wildlife management, the latest research shows that animals will reproduce faster and be more prolific when a member or members of the pack are killed. It’s known as “compensatory reproduction.”

    • Ben, the issue is not hunting. How would you like to have your foot stuck in a horrible clamp for hours and hours, only to be played “target practice” on? How comfortable. It’s hardly one-sided to be protesting against blatant cruelty.

    • Stop pretending that people do this as a “public service” to manage wildlife. I’ll believe that when I see the same people stop throwing their beer cans and McDonald’s bags out the window in the wilderness… or leaving all of their shell casings behind… or chopping down healthy trees around campsites… or riding their ATVs through stream beds and ruining fish habitat, despite being “outdoorsmen” .

    • Trapping is cruel. Period. There is no ethical trapping. It is painful and can be a slow death for the animal. It should be outlawed.

    • Bob I appreciate your skier`s blog but I would also like to thank you for giving a voice to these animals and raising our awareness about the cruel practices that are out there. I`m not a fan of hunting but I recognize that there are some people who hunt and respect the animal and use the meat, and don`t hunt to put a head on their wall.

  10. I’m sure most recreation enthusiasts on the PLLP side are probably unaware of this practice occurring in such close proximity to Elk Pass. To eliminate much of this and the snowmobile traffic leading up to the pass, could not the BC govt. expand the Elk Lakes PP boundary to the east to butt up against the pass?
    It sounds like the “leg-hold” trap is a more widespread issue requiring various government and agency involvement.

    • Yes, for some reason I thought it was the Elk Lakes Prov Park there. Given the number of skiers, and other recreational users of the area, it would really make sense to expand the park.

      Also, I agree that there is a big difference between “hunting” and cruelty to animals, and I do believe that those who enjoy the latter are very sick 🙁
      There have been issues in a number of areas in Canada of people’s dogs and other animals being caught and killed in traps, so all the more reason to question this practice.

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