Wildlife act changes favour trappers, outfitters

The Yukon government is making it easier for trappers and outfitters to make money from Yukon wildlife.

The Yukon government is making it easier for trappers and outfitters to make money from Yukon wildlife.

The Environment department is seeking public feedback on proposed Yukon Wildlife Act changes that would decrease the number of registered guides required for big game hunts, and allow tourists to assist trappers on their traplines.

“People are trapping because it is a business, there are people making a living on it,” said fur harvest technician Helen Slama.

The proposed regulations help trapping to become more economically viable, said Monday.

“There are a lot of people that do it because they can supplement their income. There are a lot of people who like the lifestyle, they’re out there on the land and they feel connected to the land.

“Stewardship is a big part of what people are out there for.”

The proposed regulations won’t increase hunting pressure on wildlife populations, she added.

“Hunters still only have permits to take so many animals. Their take won’t be increased.”

The changes allow a “chief guide” to accompany two hunters at once when hunting for big game, if a second guide is unavailable due to “unforeseen circumstances,” such as injury or illness.

Under the act, big game includes caribou, moose, bison, bears, wolves and coyotes, said Slama.

The wildlife act currently requires every hunter on an outfitted hunt to be accompanied by a single guide.

In its current form, the act also prohibits tourists who accompany trappers from handling traps, pelts or animal remains.

If the proposed regulations are approved, “guided trapping permits” will be created, allowing trappers to take up to two people over the age of 16 with them to learn firsthand about life on a trapline.

“The pelts of fur-bearing animals trapped by the permittee are the property of the concession holder,” says the proposed regulation.

The Yukon Trappers’ Association requested the new regulation to increase economic opportunities for trappers, according to a government release.

The trappers’ association could not be reached for comment.

The proposed regulations also allow trappers to leave animals caught in “quick killing” traps for up to seven days, instead of five.

Animals caught in traps that are “designed to restrain” must still be removed every five days.

The proposed regulation changes do not include a new definition of wildlife.

Last fall, Environment released a “species at risk” document that included a proposed amendment to the territory’s official definition of wildlife.

But the legislation was sidetracked because the proposed definition was too vague.

Yukon First Nations and environmentalists were concerned that the changes would allow private ownership of wildlife.

Amid solicited public requests for more time and more information, Environment officials held the amendment for further review.

A new wildlife definition has not been proposed yet, according to officials.

Environment’s policy and planning branch will receive written comments about the proposed changes to trapping and outfitting regulations until May 11.

Copies of the proposed regulations are available online at www.environmentyukon.gov.yk.ca.

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