Trapper workshop offered hands-on experience

Ken Kellar

While there weren’t quite as many people out as was hoped for, Saturday still marked another successful venture for the Rainy River District Trappers Council.

The Council held their second spring trapper workshop, since resurrecting the idea in 2019, at the Metis Hall in Fort Frances. Council president Brian Love said, all things considered, he was satisfied with the day.

“Turnout is down a little bit this year compared to last year,” Love said.

“It was packed in here last year. But this year in particular has been very, very tough because the prices are down quite a bit. And of course, travel conditions in the bush are very challenging, both on the ice and in the bush. It’s been tough.”

While the weather has had an impact on the season for area trappers, the workshop was still well attended and offered several different things to see and do. Visitors were able to check in with representatives from The Palace Trapping Supply Company and Fur Harvesters Auction Inc., check out demonstrations put on by different private trappers, including learning how to skin a trapped weasel, and watch beaver speed-skinning champion Jim Rognerud at work.

Despite the lower attendance and a slump in prices, Love said he thinks the trade is in a good place in the region.

“We’re looking forward to the future,” he said.

“I think things will pick up. We’ve got a good Council and we’ve got good executive young people, Eric and Rebecca [Gustafson], and they’ve done a terrific job. They’re really good.”

The council has also recently gained a certified trapping instructor in Trevor Mills, and Love said people have expressed interest in taking the courses that Mills has offered.

“We are licensing more young people, which is one of the goals of our Council; engaging youth and getting them involved in the outdoors and trapping,” Love said.

“I think we’re doing a pretty good job of achieving that, and we’re looking forward to the future and getting more young people out here… It is coming. We’re looking forward to it.”

While trapping and the fur trade tend to get a bad rap in some places, Love said that trapping equates to a net positive for the environment, as trap lines are strictly regulated by the government and foster a respect for the animals and nature.

“The thing about trapping is we focus on the wise use of renewable resources,” he explained.

“In the case of our family trap line, we’ve been trapping that one since the 80’s and have just acquired a second line. We have as many animals on our family line as we did when we took it over. And there’s nothing more natural than fur. It’s not synthetic, it’s not man-made and it’s renewable, not to mention the great times you have with family, getting into the outdoors. What we’re having young people focus on is that sense of ownership and becoming stewards of the outdoors and you can’t ask for more than that.”

For those who may be interested in learning more about the trade, Love noted that there are several other events coming up to mark on your calendar.

“There’s a wonderful opportunity in International Falls coming up on April 16 and 17,” he said.

“The Outdoor Expo in International Falls. It’s a wonderful event. It’s a two-day event. The largest workshop that we’re going to be having this spring will take place on March 6 and 7 in Thunder Bay at the Coliseum. It’s a wonderful event, and it’s a two-day event as well and I encourage anybody who can attend either or both to do so. There’s always lots to see and also do for all members of the family, young and old.”

“If we can get everybody -and I’m talking about young people- out there, our future and the future of the environment would be sealed, as opposed to the way it is now,” Love added. “That’s part of our goal.”