Rescue group says illegal steel traps are severely hurting wild animals
MELBOURNE, Fla. - In less than a week, Wild Florida Rescue in Brevard County says three animals have been found severely injured or tapped in illegal steel traps.
“They’re illegal because they’re inhumane,” the group's co-founder and chief operating officer Heather Pepe-Dillon told FOX 35 News.
Friday night, her group was called out to the Lake Washington area of Melbourne to help with a severely injured bobcat.
“He was found in a neighborhood close to some kind of trap,” said Gemma Millar, a veterinarian technician who volunteers with the rescue group.
Three-fourths of the bobcat's left front leg was gone, with bone protruding from a hole in his skin. Pepe-Dillon tells FOX 35 News that the bone itself had a clean break, saying that’s a clear sign of it being snapped in half by an illegal steel trap.
MORE NEWS: 'Savage' heron eats juvenile alligator on Lake Apopka
“It all but takes the foot off. It breaks the leg in half, sometimes leaves the skin. Caught by just a little bit [of skin],” Pepe-Dillon said.
She believes with its leg broken in half, the bobcat did what it had to do to free itself from the trap.
“Most likely it chewed its leg off, which is a horrific thought.”
Because of the condition of the bobcat, they believe it had been stuck in that trap, left starving for at least a week.
“He should have been about a 30-40 pound cat, but when I got him on the scale to weigh him, he was only 11 pounds. He was pretty much a skeleton with fur draped over him,” Millar said.
That night, Millar gave him some pain medication and a plate full of food. The next day, her boss at Eau Gallie Veterinary Hospital came to clean up the open wound on the bobcat and stitch the animal’s skin back together. But, an X-ray revealed its injured left front leg wasn’t the only issue.
“The back leg also had a bullet home and shrapnel on the X-rays. That leg was also infected,” Millar said.
WATCH: Man frees trapped dolphin from rope
Ultimately, the bobcat had to be put down.
“It made me sad. These are wild animals that we should be taking care of. We live in their backyard,” Millar said.
Pepe-Dillon says the same day the bobcat was brought in, a raccoon was found with its foot stuck in an illegal steel trap in Rockledge.
On Sunday, Pepe-Dillon says one of her volunteers saw a coyote in Cape Canaveral running into some brush with a trap dangling from its leg. She is concerned about this cluster of incidents involving illegal steel traps and says it has to stop.
“If anybody sees any animal trapped, please call us immediately,” Pepe-Dillon said.
MORE WILD NATURE STORIES ON FOX35ORLANDO.COM
Tune in to FOX 35 Orlando for the latest Central Florida news.