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 with Rob Miskosky

The 10-Day Notice

We often read and hear about industrial development in Alberta being out-of-control. Usually, this information is provided to the media by groups such as the Alberta Fish and Game Association, the Alberta Wilderness Association, and the Alberta chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, groups whose mandate is to protect Alberta’s wilderness and to hold government accountable for responsible development in these same wild places.

“Prime old growth forest forever gone on the author’s trapline.”

Unlike animal protection groups that just want your money, these groups actually practice conservation. Even if they don’t see eye-to-eye on all issues, they often come together for the same cause.

The Alberta Government acknowledges the concerns of these groups but seldom reacts in a way that offers satisfaction; after all, governments will always put the economy ahead of conservation because a healthy economy buys votes.

But who is out there in these wild places seeing firsthand what is going on? Certainly not government.

Most logging and oil and gas operations take place during the winter months when the ground is frozen and trucks and heavy equipment can move around freely. This is at a time when few are on the landscape.

However, there is a group of dedicated individuals that are watching, often in disgust.

Trappers spend most, if not all of the harshest winter months plying their trade in the wilderness. They are the boots on the ground when few are out and they are witness to the effects of industry on their traplines, which is often not pretty.

And there are few that receive as many registered letters in the mail as trappers do. Speaking with firsthand knowledge, I personally could fill my trapline outhouse with the letters and maps I have received via registered mail over the last few years. This year alone, I have received at least a dozen registered letters informing me of industrial activity taking place on my 48 square mile trapline, from logging to well sites to a pipeline, all affecting my operation.

These letters are required to be sent to the trapper by the company planning to do the work 10 days prior to that work commencing. This 10 days is supposed to be sufficient time for the trapper to adjust his trapping activities, which, if you were to speak to any trapper holding a Registered Fur Management Area, isn’t nearly enough time to allow for proper trapline management.

Trappers continuously make adjustments for industry by taking down existing sets, moving trails, dealing with new roads and cutlines and the activity that comes with it, without recourse. Here’s your 10-day notice... get out of the way!

Trappers use different systems to ensure healthy populations of furbearers on their traplines. I use what is considered an “area-based” approach, meaning I only trap certain areas during certain years. Last year, I made the choice to rest the marten on the south end of my trapline. Had I known then that a very large logging operation would be moving in this winter, I never would have rested that area; rather, I would have hit it hard because the animals in that area are going to die-off because of the loss of habitat associated with those logging operations.

Trappers have grown tired of the devastation on their traplines and the severe impact on the furbearers found there. They are given little notice, have found themselves without the ability to be properly compensated for their losses, and are frustrated with a system that solely benefits big industry.

A good start would be to reexamine the 10-day notice, a debacle that clearly needs to be fixed. ■

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