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LETTER: Trappers play an important role in wildlife conservation

All qualified seasoned outdoorsman are very well aware that this winter is an anomaly as the snow load is next to nothing and deer movements are not at all normal with deer migration altered drastically
USED Ottawa 3 - A deer (Photo credit - Janet Stephens)
File photo of deer

Editor's note: Mr. Downey writes in response to the BayToday story MNRF responds to Redbridge area snared deer investigation. and Local hunter finds multiple illegally snared deer 


To the editor:

I directly contacted the MNR asking if these snares were LEGALLY set before I wrote a response.

I was told the case was being investigated. I had viewed the photos posted and was of the opinion the snare and all components were of the legal size and requirements.

This unfortunate situation was brought to light by a man who claims to be a 40-year hunter and stated the snares were set illegally.

The situation has now been confirmed by MNR enforcement that the snares were in FACT LEGALLY set. There are over 2,800 Registered Trap Lines in Ontario operated by licensed trappers all who have passed a mandatory 40-hour course involving a written and practical exam. I have been a Provincial Trapper Instructor for several decades and proper snare practices are part of the course.

Most all seasoned hunters and outdoorsmen know that trappers operate during the fall and winter months and the role they play is vital to wildlife management. I found it shallow and upsetting that a man claiming 40 years as a hunter would take photos of the deer and post them along with what is now confirmed as false statements without getting the facts. I may suggest that it is quite possible this hunter made a poor shot and wounded a deer, moose or bear during his 40 years. Times a bullet or arrow may have deflected off a tree branch wounding an animal and making it unrecoverable.

I have operated a registered trap line on Nipissing's west arm since 1990 and have found such animals unrecovered as the ravens and eagles give away such locations. I never ever considered taking pictures and writing a letter to the local paper throwing a fellow outdoorsman under the bus not knowing the facts but well aware things happen like this from time to time. Knowing that no matter how careful one is on rare occasions things go wrong. Be it driving a vehicle, mowing the lawn, or running a rapid in your canoe, as in real life bad things sometimes happen.

All qualified seasoned outdoorsman are very well aware that this winter is an anomaly as the snow load is next to nothing and deer movements are not at all normal with deer migration altered drastically.

In the late '90s, I had set a wolf snare bait station very close to my camp on my West Arm trap line. I had this exact same setup going for years and had taken many wolves from this location. This particular year we had a huge snow storm the last week of October and when the storm passed I checked my snares and was saddened to find I had caught a couple of deer.

Never had this happened at this location before but it was the snow load that triggered the deer movement as countless tracks of deer were evident all heading south towards Restoule and Loring Deer yards. That was a freak year as well and deer moved months earlier while this year not needing to move out of their home range.

Most hunters are aware not that long ago MNR operated and maintained deer yards in Loring and Golden Valley. MNR employed predator control officers in these yards during winter as the wolves moved in there in mass because of the huge deer concentration. A lot of wolves were caught and sadly the odd deer even thou a lot of detail was taken in setting snares in order to avoid it.

This year is shaping up to be the best year in a decade for our deer herd and recruitment will be amazing with little winter kill due to lack of traditional snow load. Our area trappers that take a few wolves add tremendously to what deer make it to spring and fawning time.

It is unfortunate that this happens on rare occasions but it is well worth noting that for every wolf /coyote Ontario’s professional trappers harvest the lives of 10 deer are saved on average.

I have had years where I have harvested well over a dozen wolves/coyotes and know many trappers that catch more. Simple math reflects the reality of just how important the role trappers play. Everyone loves to see deer and we all will see a lot less if trappers stop the harvesting of wolves because of uneducated misinformed reports being released.


Mark Downey

CEO of Fur Harvesters Auction

North Bay