By Bill Rees
In the past few years there has been an increase in certified trappers in Alberta. With more people trapping there is a higher risk that you and your hunting dog may encounter traps or snares in the field.
There are a couple of tips to help you keep your hunting buddy safe. When you go out asking landowners for hunting permission also ask if there are any active trappers on their land. Asking the farmer if there is any trapping going on will jog his memory about trapping activity in and around the area. A trapper is required to have a government issued permission form signed by the landowner to allow trapping and snaring on their property. With this in mind, if there is active trapping in the area it may be safer to go to other hunting areas. Favorite trapping spots in southern Alberta are also great cover for pheasants and partridge. Such sites are cattails and willow bluffs. To be blunt. Areas that may have a higher chance of encountering snares are near Hutterite Colonies. The farm boss may not have knowledge of the boys trapping or snaring on their land or adjacent land.
Crown Land can be an issue while hunting grouse. Almost all crown land is allocated to a specific trapper. This trapper has the rights to harvest the fur. Like a timber harvest lease. With the Grouse season extended until mid-January you may encounter trapping activity out in the snow. If you notice trapping activity along a cutline it might be safer to travel down the road to the next road or cutline. In most areas the trapping season starts Oct 1st and continues until April 30th depending on species. This overlaps with the upland seasons. I am an active pheasant and upland bird hunter. I am also a trapper. I trap many fur bearing animals from beavers to coyotes. I personally have seen an increase in pheasants over a 4-year period of trapping coyotes. This area has now become one of our pheasant hotspots.
Trappers do not want to harm your dog. Most trappers have dogs. Some trappers use their pet on their traplines to aid in finding coyote and wolf sign. There is not a trapper that I know of that actively targets people’s pets.
My friend’s pointer is a German Wirehair he is a part of the family. I have played with him since he was a puppy. My Friend has put countless hours into training his dog for hunting. He was very concerned about snares while in the field. I sold him some snare cutters and took him out trapping to understand what my methods were.
In 2019 I created a presentation for bird hunters explaining in detail trapping and trapping methods to aid in knowing how to respond if an incident were to occur. The presentation is called Fur, Feathers and Our Future. I have done many presentations to dog clubs across the province. I also offer snare cutters for sale. This tool should be an integral part of your hunting gear. If you and your club or friends would like to attend the presentation, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Have a safe and successful hunting season.
Fur, Feathers and Our Future presentation is free and supported by the Alberta Trappers Association.