Who remembers 1969? It was a year of historical makings throughout North America and the world. In 1969, television was filling everyone’s homes with non-stop entertainment. ABC-TV premiered “The Brady Bunch”, the Jackson 5 appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show, and an estimated 530 million people tuned in to watch Neil Armstrong become the first man to walk on the moon.
While many traveled far and wide to attend the first ever Woodstock Music and Art Fair, other Americans paid close attention to President Nixon’s announcement of “Vietnamization” and the hope that their loved ones would return home safe and sound.
North of the border, the first ever major league baseball game in Canada was played. Surprisingly enough, the Expos defeated their rivals, the St. Louis Cardinals 8-7.
Saskatchewan made its own history in 1969. This was the year that Saskatchewan ran its first official flag up the flagpole. Take pride in this great province we call home.
The birth of this association also happened in 1969. With values and objectives that we share today, the intent has always been to represent the best interests of all trappers across the province. Fast forward 50 years to 2019. Now over 450 members strong, we are leading the way within Saskatchewan. In 2017-2018 we harvested over 74 thousand pelts in Saskatchewan, returning over 5.5 million dollars of revenue back to the hard-working trappers of this great province. So what has happened over these last 50 years?
- Fur Institute of Canada – Trap Research and Development
In 1991, the European Union (EU) passed regulations prohibiting the import of fur products obtained from the pelts of 19 wild fur species, which included 12 Canadian species, unless the countries of origin have 1) prohibited the use of foot-hold traps, or, 2) ensured the traps for capturing these species meet internationally agreed humane trapping standards. In 1997, Canada, Russia, and the EU (with the United States signed on under a separate but parallel agreement) negotiated the Agreement on International Humane Trapping Standards (AIHTS) and it was signed in December. This was the beginning of humane trap testing and modification for Canadian trappers. The Saskatchewan Trappers Association has remained a strong supporter of this endeavor and continues to monitor the progress being made.
In 2013, it was apparent that trap testing for Canada’s western wolf had not been given serious consideration. With the potential risk of deadline closures for future testing, the STA approved a motion to donate $10,000 to the Fur Institute of Canada (FIC) trap research fund specific for western wolf. This money allowed the FIC to expedite the process and test five more traps, which are now certified for use. A major win for our trappers –now having a variety of wolf traps to use without fear of limitation.
- Government of Saskatchewan – Fur Royalty
It was a standard process for Saskatchewan trappers to pay their fur royalties to the provincial government. Every fur that was processed was worth a percentage to the Ministry. As fur prices fell during the economic crash, the royalties continued on and with bottom end prices for a continuation of years, the government was receiving only a small amount of return. The Saskatchewan Trappers Association continued their discussions with the Ministry to reconsider the fur royalties — and following the 2010/2011 season the Government of Saskatchewan eliminated the royalties completely. Consider today a three per cent royalty on your coyote fur being shipped. This would be approximately $3.50 per coyote that you would submit back. With 39,416 coyotes shipped in 2017-18, that means that our trappers saved almost $138,000 last year in royalties on coyotes alone!
- Government of Saskatchewan – Red Fox
Why did the province value the red fox as a nuisance animal? Major price declines in the early 90’s resulted in low harvesting numbers throughout Saskatchewan. It was in 1991 DNR declared the red fox and coyote as nuisance in Southern Saskatchewan, to help curb the depredation complaints. The Saskatchewan Trappers Association maintained a direct approach with the Ministry to change the status of the red fox from nuisance to furbearing and the Ministry did just that. This ensures our wild fur is utilized and managed in a responsible manner for years to come.
- Otter Study – http://www.facetsjournal.com/doi/pdf/10.1139/facets-2017-0082
In 2011 the Saskatchewan Trappers Association was approached to work with a study group analyzing otters throughout Saskatchewan. It was a great opportunity for our trappers to receive financial support by submitting carcasses and the board provided the administrative duties to fulfill the obligations. This study provided thousands of dollars to trappers in subsidy and remained in effect for two years.
- Snaring – Ministry of Environment
Bruce Bertram’s history, the man who invented the Ram power Snare, began in 1982. Sales were limited within Saskatchewan, as provincial regulations restricted the ability to use such an item on the line. Trappers began to see his product and understand the potential. As our membership grew, it became clear that the trappers in the province wanted more tools for their trade and the Association began discussions with the Ministry. Over the years of continued involvement, the results paid off. It was announced in the 1995-1996 season that Saskatchewan trappers would be eligible to use the Power ram snare, with permit.
We remain committed to fulfilling our educational component, teaching hundreds of students every year about trapping and wildlife management, and displaying our fur kits to tens of thousands of visitors throughout Saskatchewan.
This organization has not slowed down, nor does it ever intend to. We will continue to ensure the fundamentals of the STA remain in place, provide active and positive leadership with the Ministry of Environment and other stakeholders, and direct our objectives focused on fiscal responsibility to ensure succession of this organization for years to come. Hard work, dedication and passion for trapping will continue to drive this organization’s board forward.
We wouldn’t be where we are without the help of all our volunteers, previous board members, past chairmen, presidents and all our supporters of the trapping industry. Thank you for your hours of dedication and service to make this organization as great as it is. A big thank you to our auction houses for years of service and an extra thank you to Becky McIntosh and her late father, Irwin C McIntosh, for the years of support through the “Canadian Trapper” magazine.
The ten-dollar annual membership that you provide and the events that you support go a long way in supporting our efforts which in turn, support you. I ask you to do your part and keep it going. Help us build our numbers by encouraging fellow trappers to buy a membership – use this letter as proof of how our organization has saved every trapper more money than what it’s worth. Contact your regional director and get active, be involved.
This past year has been a difficult one, and there will be challenges ahead. But I believe if we have continued solidarity, speak with one clear voice, and focus on the goals of the trade as a whole, we will continue to provide excellent returns for all trappers in Saskatchewan — just as we have done, since 1969.
As Theodore Roosevelt said, “Nothing worth having comes easy.” These are words our organization, and the Canadian wild fur trade, understand clearly.