Some 50,000 commercial trappers harvest about 750,000 wildlife pelts (badgers, coyotes, wolves and more) in Canada every year.
Many work in areas with oil and gas operations: from prairies and foothills to boreal forests and mountains across the country.
One of the most visible signs of the trade is their traps, which come in several forms (wire loops, chain, cables and jaws) and are set in many areas, often on traplines.
If you come across one, leave it alone—it’s illegal to tamper with or remove a legal trap. Carefully leave the area. If the trap needs to be removed so you can work in the area, let local provincial fish and wildlife officers know where you spotted it.
“Trappers tend to practise their trade in areas far removed from human activity,” says Brendan Cox, a public affairs officer with the Alberta government’s Justice and Solicitor General Department.
“If someone sees a trap in the wild… our advice is to leave it alone and to leave the area.”
If you encounter an animal caught in a trap or snare, do not try to release it. While it may look docile, wild animals are not used to human contact and you could be seriously injured.
Trappers must check their traps every 24 or 48 hours, depending on their licence. And one of the values of the Alberta Trappers’ Association is that their members treat animals with respect and compassion.
Want to learn more about wildlife? If you’re an oil and gas field worker that might encounter wildlife, you can take Enform’s Wildlife Awareness Online (includes Bear Awareness).