Trapping aspects discussed at Saskatchewan Trappers course

            Furbearer conservation, including all aspects that relate to the harvest of furbearers, are under provincial jurisdiction and are managed by the Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment, said Colin Lawson, Ministry of Environment in the Yorkton field office.

            Lawson was a guest speaker at the Saskatchewan Trappers Association course held in Rockford on October 15 and 16.

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            Lawson spoke of a variety of topics that focused on the trapping aspect including licensing, traps that can be used and other related topics.

            “For management purposes the province is divided into north and south fur conservation areas,” Lawson said. Trapping is included under the definition of hunting in Saskatchewan such that, unless specifically exempted, the rules that pertain to hunting with firearms will also apply to shooting or trapping of furbearers under a trapping license.

            "To trap in the north you must be voted in by members of the block you are applying for and then you will be assigned a trapping area for your use,” he said. “In the south region you can trap anywhere but you must have the permission of the landowner or person in control of any residence or livestock handling facility within 500 metres of your sets. On crown land, permission is required from the appropriate representative of the Crown or the crown lease holder.”

            Most Saskatchewan furbearers are protected outside of specified season dates that are intended to cover the period when the fur is prime. Season dates for all Saskatchewan species are shown annually in the hunters and trappers guide.

            Some species such as coyotes, beaver (in designated rural municipalities only), raccoon and skunk can be trapped year-round but the pelt will be of little value outside of the colder months.

            During a big game season, a licensed trapper may hunt fur animals during an open fur season where the fur licence holder is carrying out normal trapping operations, he said. Normal trapping operations mean the taking of fur animals by means of traps, where the trapper has several traps operating at one time and checks them in a planned and regular manner.

            "A licensed trapper conducting normal bear-trapping operations must use a rifle greater than .22 calibre," said Lawson. Killing traps are certified based on meeting a required minimum average time between capture and time of unconsciousness (45 seconds for weasel; two minutes for marten; five minutes for all others). Restraining traps are certified based on the amount and nature of injuries suffered by a captured animal, said Lawson.

            He concluded with an opportunity for students to ask questions.