Saskatchewan sets new cougar, bear trapping seasons


Saskatchewan has set up a new cougar season for trappers, plus a southern expansion of its black bear trapping season, in part to help limit livestock predation.

The province on Wednesday announced a new “trapping-only” cougar season will open Oct. 15, 2017 and close March 15, 2018.

It also announced a new “black bear opportunity” for southern fur conservation (SFCA) license holders, running Sept. 10, 2017 to May 31, 2018, allowing trapping of black bears in wildlife management zones (WMZs) open to bear hunting.

Those zones, the province said, include WMZs 30, 34 to 50, 52 to 55 and 68 — largely in northern, east-central and southeastern farming regions.

For cougar trappers, reporting will be mandatory on all cougars harvested, to help the environment ministry “determine the impact of this new harvest on the long-term sustainability of the species,” the province said.

The province said it’s noted an increase in “incidental” captures of cougars by trappers, and expects formalizing a season will encourage more trapping in cougar areas and allow trappers to “retain and sell their catch.”

Limiting harvest to the use of traps or snares “will help ensure that an annual harvest is maintained without creating a conservation threat to the species,” the province said.

For black bear trappers, the new southern season will be a trapping (leg snare) season only, the province said. Hunting free-ranging bears will not be allowed under a SFCA fur licence.

Black bears are found in areas with “suitable” habitats across the province’s south and are “increasingly involved” in livestock predation incidents and public safety risks, the province said.

“We have been lobbying for a bear trapping season in southern Saskatchewan for several years,” Saskatchewan Trappers Association president Mike Keen said Wednesday in the province’s release.

The association, he said, “fully supports the new fur seasons for both black bear and cougar, which will help to curb increasing populations and improve public safety, while providing additional harvesting opportunities for trappers.”

The province on Wednesday also said it will extend its bear trapping season in the northern fur conservation area (NFCA) to June 30, outside of provincial parks and/or recreation sites.

“Both cougar and bear populations have been expanding into the southern portion of Saskatchewan,” Environment Minister Scott Moe said in Wednesday’s release.

“Establishing additional trapping seasons will better manage these growing populations and help reduce human and livestock encounters for both species.”

The province’s hunting and trapping guide for 2017 is expected to be available online later this month. — Network

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