Incidental Catches
Position

Conflicts between humans and wildlife are increasing in Alberta, due to both human encroachment into wildlife habitats and increases in some wildlife populations. These conflicts can result in harm to people, property, pets, and to the wild animal itself. Some common conflicts include,

  • predation on livestock, pets, and other wildlife
  • depredation on crops by ungulates, bears and migratory birds
  • property damage (e.g. Fences, granaries, buildings),
  • damage to lands and infrastructure (e.g. Flooding, tree removal by beavers; water control structures by muskrats),
  • safety concerns with predators (coyotes, wolves, cougars and bears) frequenting residential areas, and
  • vehicle-wildlife collisions.

Recognizing the important ecological, economic and social values these same wildlife provide to Alberta, the Alberta Trappers’ Association believes that efforts should be made to increase education around practices to avoid and minimize human-wildlife conflicts, ensuring our wildlife are perceived as assets and not liabilities.

The Alberta Trappers’ Association also recognizes that attempts to avoid and minimize human-wildlife conflicts are not entirely effective, and that animal removal is a necessary part of managing these issues. As such, trapping plays an important role in minimizing human-wildlife conflict, and private landowners and municipalities often employ trappers to help manage problem wildlife, generally furbearing animals.

In some of these instances, trappers must work close to residential areas, leading to the possibility of unsupervised pets encountering traps. Despite attempts to avoid incidental capture of non-target animals, incidents of pets injured or killed by traps sometimes occur.

Trappers do not take such incidents lightly, as they hold high compassion for all animals. They have families they love, the same problems and concerns as all families do, and they own pets they love as family members too.

While even one incidental catch of a family pet is one too many, pet capture in traps is extremely rare. Far more pets are hit and killed by vehicles each year than are caught in traps. Nevertheless, incidental catches can happen and both trappers and pet owners have a responsibility; the trapper to ensure he or she is using the proper equipment and techniques to avoid incidental catches, and the pet owner to ensure the family pet is under control and restricted to the property on which it resides.

An individual trained through the Alberta Trappers’ Association is trained in all aspects of trapping, including ethical and humane trapping standards, as well as how to best avoid incidental catches.

However, even the most diligent trapper can have an incidental catch. Using cougars as an example, in Alberta the number of cougars incidentally captured in snares fluctuates yearly with cougar densities and weather patterns. During mild winters, prey animals easily evade capture by cougars, which in turn makes cougars more vulnerable to incidental capture at a trapper’s draw bait.

Currently, Alberta’s cougar population is growing at a rapid pace with more cougars being harvested by private landowners and more being registered in the province than ever before, including from areas where they have not previously been known to inhabit.

Alberta Environment and Parks staff have initiated a 2016 cougar study to help better understand the relationship and dynamics of cougar quota levels relative to accidental trapping and landowner kills. Alberta Environment and Parks believes the study will result in improvements to Alberta’s cougar management program and a reduction in incidental catches. The incidental catch of cougars is not considered a threat to Alberta’s cougar population and is considered when cougar quotas are set.

The Alberta Trappers’ Association believes that incidental catches are undesirable occurrences that every trapper wishes to avoid. Trapping in Alberta is highly regulated and trappers are trained to follow strict protocols during their trapper education course to avoid incidental catches. The Alberta Trappers’ Association continues to adapt its education programs to minimize unwanted incidental catches..

Date: April 14, 2016
Director’s Meeting
Alberta Trappers’ Association

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