The province is eyeing a new public-education campaign on trapping in Whiteshell Provincial Park as part of its wider review of how the province manages traplines in areas of Manitoba that are seeing increased recreational use.
"We know we've got to keep parks and other high-use Crown lands safe for people and for families," provincial fur-bearer biologist Dean Berezanski said. "We're looking at where there might be potential concerns."
Manitoba banned trapping in 51 of its 53 provincial parks in December after two dogs were killed by traps in two provincial parks. The province had at first suspended all trapping in Grand Beach Provincial Park after Rob Shura's dog, Pippin, was killed by a trap near a hiking trail. The province was in the process of reviewing trapping in provincial parks when a second dog was killed by a trap in a provincial park in the central region.
The name of the park is not being identified to protect the identity of the dog's owners, provincial officials said.
The ban did not include Whiteshell Provincial Park, a part of the province in which trapping goes back decades. There are 25 registered traplines in the park.
"It's a well-established activity in the Whiteshell," said Berezanski. "Trapping is recognized as a sustainable use of the resource. We do have very abundant fur-bearer populations. If we have concerns we would address those concerns."
But longtime Betula Lake cottager Dave Bell said most people are unaware there's trapping near their cottages and off the trails where they often walk their dogs. Bell said traplines should be marked and promoted, perhaps in a map posted in the local store. Some trappers use blue ribbons to mark a trapline, but many don't use any markings.
"I just don't think people know what's going on," Bell said. "When you go to the park's website you don't see a happy trapper coming out of the bush with a dead animal."
Bell, who's cottaged at Betula since 1956, only became aware of traplines near his cottage several weeks ago when a trapper warned him he shouldn't run his golden retriever on a trail near his cottage. By law, traps have to be set at least 50 metres away from trails.
"Trapping is like setting landmines," the retired teacher said, adding the park is seeing more year-round use and more people using its trails without knowledge of the nearby traplines.
"It's a vast unknown," he said.
Berezanski said he has not fielded any complaints about trapping in Whiteshell Provincial Park.
"Cottaging and trapping have co-existed for so long," he said. "It's a well-established relationship."
He said the province hopes to have something for public review on trapping in the park as early as this spring. The provincial spokesman also said people walking dogs in the Whiteshell should keep them on a leash.
Berezanski added Manitoba has a healthy population of wild animals.
More than 13,000 martens were trapped by registered trappers in 2012. The five-year average for 2005-09 was 19,782 animals. The biggest market for their pelts is Asia.
He said wolves have always been trapped in the Whiteshell, with four of the 25 traplines eligible for the province's wolf-trapping incentive program. Trappers receive $250 per wolf. The program was brought in almost two years ago as part of the province's push to increase the moose population.
Ron Thiessen, Manitoba spokesman for the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, said the organization does not have a formal position on trapping in Whiteshell Provincial Park.
The price for pelts
Animals trapped last year in Manitoba. (Auction value of pelts in brackets.)
Badger 112 ($42.31)
Fox (red/silver)1,673 ($42.41)
Fox (white/blue)101 ($55.80)