Since the beginning of time animal trapping became a honed science at an early era to ensure the survival of man. Though fancy coats and warm garments are made as an art form the intention of trapping has been deemed an environmental essential even in our modern time, making the solution of healthier air and maintaining the rapid population of certain species.
Held only this past week; December 14th, was the annual fur trading of The Manitoba Trappers Association (MTA) hosted for local trappers to have the option of selling their prized furs for a flat rate or up for World Market stock price depending which of the featured three buyers they choose from.
The MTA was established in 1972 by a group of Northern trappers that posed the need for trapping to the Manitoba Government and got the financial backing to begin an education system directed to teach on proper trapping ethics, equipment, biology, skinning, safety and grading. All to ensure the needed job is done without the suffering of an animal.
This two day course allows participants to acquire their Trapping Licenses, in which this annual MTA event housed 76 licensed trappers, trading a total of 3,438 pellets. The total count of present individuals arrived at an uncountable rate. Though certain salesmen stated that there were up to 400 people at one point in time bustling with assorted trading.
Though it may seem fur trading is the business of fortune, rather the opposite is fact as one such salesmen; Morgan Serger brought to light the struggle in which the trading industry have faced.
“None of the trappers are making any money in the end. It is a lifestyle choice and a choice to be a part of a traditional and sustainable way of living. With the cost of fuel, and all the other costs the trappers are investing into the environment all the time with their money, time and energy. Their ability to make a living has been affected by the price of furs being low due to mainstream society thinking that trapping animals is bad. The main market for fur products has shrunk significantly and that has hurt the industry. There’s maybe a quarter of furs then there would be in the past” Says Serger, “But this is a very sustainable business, No animals are going extinct because of this fur trapping, in fact the trappers want it to be sustainable! There’s actually areas where animals are sick or populations are out of balance because a trapper is not managing the area. Ultimately many people trying to kill the fur trade are actually killing the very animals and environment they are trying to save”.
Serger continued to give an educated description on how synthetic clothing, as an example, is far more harmful to the environment than wearing furs. The number of animals that die due to the synthetic pollution required to make many clothing items is likely more than 2 to 1 vs sustainably trapping fur bearing animals. “You can’t be wearing plastic and talk big about saving the animals”, says Serger.
Yet while people struggle to make money off the fur trade, escalation in individuals seeking for training still continues to grow. Serger credits this to the fact that they feel the heritage, lifestyle and environmental reasons are worth pursuing.
While this event is typically stretched over a two day span, this year it was decided to condense the trading to a single day, making it easier for the buyers who all come from various long distances. “It becomes too far for those who have to stay an extra day with flights and travel expenses” Says the Vice President of the MTA; Ron D. Spence, “Normally the second day is slower then the first day anyway, so we thought we would try making one extra busy day rather then two medium days”
Spence stated that though the numbers of attendance weren’t where they would’ve liked them to be, he would mark the event as a complete success with still housing hundreds of guests and trappers alike and contributing to an environmental need.
To wrap things up, a guest draw was made available, giving participants the chance to win eager prizes of great value. As all of the vendors give a donation upon arrival they give those out in door prizes, making for a more anticipated event beyond trading.
It’s wonderful to see traditions of old still being carried through, with every fur sold and traded it’s not widely understood just how grand this promotes a healthy environment against pollution that is spread from most other manufactures. Following in the correct circle of life.
~Matthias J. Johnson is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Thompson Citizen. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.