Trapping in the Yukon
THE TRAPPER. Trapping is not restricted to one type of individual or to one segment of the population. Any Yukoner may obtain a trapping licence providing they meet the requirements outlined in the Wildlife Act.
There were approximately 560 licenses issued in the 2017/18 season including both concession holders and assistant licenses.
Most people pursue this occupation for the unique lifestyle it affords. Trapping provides an opportunity for self-employment in one of the best working environment: Canada’s great outdoors. It can be personally gratifying, as well as economically rewarding.
For Yukon’s native people, trapping is a way of life with strong social and cultural traditions that pre-date the arrival of the white man to the territory.
THE TRAPLINE. The registered trapline is a parcel of land on which one person is given exclusive rights to harvest furbearing animals. This protection of the trapper’s investment encourages him or her to manage the area the way farmers manager their land: always thinking of next year’s crop.
There are 349 registered traplines in the Yukon. Of those, 32 are registered as group lines which can include multiple areas. Group lines are held by First nation groups as well as non-First nation groups.
The traditional traplines within a group area are respected by other members of the group.
The registered trapline system distributes harvest pressure on the resource and allows for close monitoring of furbearer populations.
THE ECONOMIC MAINSTAY. The economic value of trapping in the Yukon is tremendous. It is the mainstay in many smaller communities, providing a source of income at a time of year when unemployment is high. It supplements seasonal earnings and in many cases, replaces social welfare.
Yukon fur harvest is worth in excess of $1 million annually. The economic spin-offs from this sale are estimated to be two to three times greater. These include local purchases of equipment and supplies, cottage industry profits from the sale of manufactured fur products and the value of furbearer meat use for both human consumption and pet food.
THE RESOURCE AND ITS MANAGEMENT. Fourteen species are trapped for their fur in the Yukon. These furbearers produce a natural surplus that can be harvested on a sustained yield basis. Even without annual cropping, as high as 70% of a specific population will die of natural causes such as predation, starvation and disease.
In addition to the wise management practised by the trapper, there is protection for the resource in legislation. The Department of Renewable Resources sets seasons dates, regulates methods of harvest and monitors the harvest on a local basis. Ongoing studies provide the biological information needed to properly manage our furbearers. Crucial to reaching management goals is the co-operation and support of trappers.
Trapper education programs keep trappers abreast of the latest developments in the fur industry. Efficient and humane harvesting techniques, proper pelt preparation and sound biological management practices are emphasized.
THE LAST WORD. We have a moral obligation to harvest our furbearers in the most humane manner possible. Trappers have been in the forefront promoting the search for more efficient and humane trapping systems. Canada leads the world in humane trap research and the work carries on.
Trapping is a legitimate use of a RENEWABLE resource. It is also a sound biological management tool. More importantly, trapping is vital to the economy of Northern Canada and to the lifestyle of many Canadian residents.
Public support, both at home and abroad, will ensure the survival of the fur industry and the resources on which it depends.