Collections required this year: Fisher, bobcat, otter and incidental catches of marten and lynx. Submission of accidental catches of flying squirrels of voluntary.

Regulation Changes for 1999/2000

The major regulation changes affecting fur harvesters for the 1999/2000 season are:

1. The bag limit for bobcat is five (5) in all counties including Cumberland County.

2. Only licensed furharvesters who permanently reside in Cumberland, Colchester, and Pictou counties may now keep one fisher taken accidentally in a trap lawfully set for another species within those three counties. Fisher taken by trappers in any other County must be turned in to a DNR office.

Table of Contents

Short-Eared Owl on 1999 Species at Risk T-shirt ....................................................................

Mandatory Fur Harvester Courses .............................................................................................

Trap Testing in Nova Scotia ....................................................................................................

Furbearer Report ........................................................................................................................

Bobcat Reproduction, Age Structure and Bag Limit ...................................................................

Species Abundance as Recorded by Fur Harvesters ..................................................................

Additional Traps Meet International Standards ........................................................................

Black Bear in Nova Scotia .......................................................................................................

Trap Standards - Update on the EU Agreement and Canadian Trap Standards .......................

Nuisance Wildlife Operators Association ...............................................................................

Fisher Study Continues ..............................................................................................................

Anyone seeking further information on furbearer management or wishing to provide input to the Department of Natural Resources should contact their local office, a Regional Wildlife Biologist, or the Furbearer and Upland Game Section of DNR, Attn: Mike O'Brien, 136 Exhibition Street, Kentville, NS - B4N 4E5 By e-mail: Phone: (902) 679-6091 Fax: (902) 679-6176. The Furbearer Section, including Trappers Newsletter, is on the Internet:

Accidental catches or sightings of rare species may also be reported by calling 1-800-565-2224.

Short-Eared Owl On 1999 Species at Risk T-Shirt

By Angela Bond, Danielle Degraaf and Sarah Spencer

The Short-Eared owl (Asio flammeus) is one of six different owl species that occur regularly in Nova Scotia. It is recognized by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Species in Canada (COSEWIC) as "vulnerable"; in spite of this designation however, it is one of the most widely distributed owls in the world, found on most continents and oceanic islands. There are approximately 100 Short-Eared owl pairs in the Maritimes. The life span of this bird varies with its geographic location - for example, it lives for approximately twelve years in Europe, but only for about four years in North America. Its range in North America is in the Arctic tundra, from Alaska to northern Labrador, and in the boreal and temperate grass and shrub-lands south to California and New Jersey. In the Maritimes, it is found in dyked wet meadows and marshes, and in coastal bogs.

The Short-Eared owl is active day and night, and tends to hunt low to the ground. Its main food is the meadow vole, but it also preys on shrews, moles, rabbits, and pocket gophers. The owl's numbers fluctuate from year to year with changes in abundance of these small mammals. A major threat to its population is habitat loss due to agriculture, reforestation and industrialization. Its eggs are also destroyed by skunks, domestic cats, and dogs. These problems have contributed to the species being placed on the National Audubon Society's blue list of declining birds in 1976.

Species at Risk t-shirts are being sold through Nova Scotia Liquor Commission outlets. By purchasing a t-shirt, you are increasing awareness of threatened wildlife while at the same time helping to fund future research.

Mandatory Fur Harvester Courses

Courses take place each year in early fall. Since 1986, 61 Fur Harvester Courses have been held and there have been a total of 1,247 students. Application forms are available at all local DNR offices, and may be submitted throughout the year. Registration and payment must be received not later than August 15 in order to guarantee a place in courses for that fall. Students registered by August 15 will receive notification of their course date and location in early September; participants are required to confirm their attendance by September 15. Anyone unable to attend must also notify DNR, Wildlife Division in Kentville, otherwise their name will be removed from the course waiting list, and their registration fee forfeited.

Trap Testing in Nova Scotia

by Mike Boudreau

Although the conventional steel-jawed leghold trap will be banned at the end of the 2000-01 trapping season, the Fur Institute of Canada (FIC) remains committed to testing different traps against the International and Canadian standards. As part of this continuing research, the FIC provides funding to native trappers and trappers associations across Canada.

Nova Scotia continues to play a role by both actively testing traps and gathering information. In the last few years, this province's trappers have tested restraining and killing traps for a number of different species of furbearers; this is usually done on the trap line, however there has been some laboratory testing of killing traps. A sufficient number of carcasses were available due to our mandatory carcass return policy.

The most recent of these projects took place during the spring of 1999, when a technician from Alberta worked on Nova Scotia bobcats. The original study was set up to look at the clamping force of 330 conibears and modified 330s on lynx. The assumption was that both cats have similar physical characteristics, and that by taking measurements on both lynx and bobcats there would be no need to use live bobcats. A total of 42 carcasses were processed with a standard 330 and a modified 330 conibear. At the present time this testing is of little significance to trappers in Nova Scotia because of the limited use of 330s for bobcat trapping. However, it is vital for provinces which have regulations allowing dry land sets for 330s. Study results will be available when the data has been analyzed.

Throughout September and October of the 1998-99 season, the FIC provided funding for a trapper from the Trappers Association of Nova Scotia to live-trap otters for compound testing of various otter traps. After consulting with the contractor and using past provincial harvest data, it was decided to trap in the Bras D'or Lake area of Cape Breton. This site was chosen mainly because of its productivity and easy access. Traps were supplied by the Alberta Research Council, and consisted of a modified #3 Victor soft catch center-swivelled, with an extra in-line spring and swivels in the trap chain. All traps were staked on dry land and set in such a way as to reduce injury to the otter from entanglement while in the trap. Traps were checked every day, and when time permitted twice a day. They were set without bait or lure so as to specifically target otters and thus reduce incidental by-catch. In all, ten otters were trapped.

During the fall of 1999, the FIC will again provide funding for a contract to test traps on coyotes. Nova Scotia will be running this testing concurrently with trappers from British Columbia, Alberta, and Ontario. Three different traps will be tested: a Victor #3 4-coiled softcatch attached to an eight foot drag, a Bridger attached to an eight foot drag, and a Bridger which will be anchored with a stake. The results will be available sometime in the new year.

Furbearer Report

by Mike O'Brien and Mike Boudreau

The number of fur harvester licenses sold in the 1998-99 season decreased by 13.3 per cent to 1649. The level of effort by those who did buy licenses appears to have remained stable, with 62.3 per cent reporting taking fur in the 1998-99 season.

Fur prices declined for most species, with significant declines in several species. Price gains for wild fur which might have been expected with increased stability in the marketplace (as a result of the resolution of the European Union situation) have been offset by loss of markets from Asian and Russian economic uncertainty. More details on the European situation and progress on the Canadian trap standards appear elsewhere in this issue, in the article Trap Standards - Update on the EU Agreement and Canadian Trap Standards.

Snowshoe Hare

Snowshoe hares, or "rabbits" as we Nova Scotians call them, are an important prey species for several predatory furbearers. Abundance rankings made by fur harvesters show an overall increase in snowshoe hares in the province, with the Cape Breton area showing a slight decrease. Rankings indicate medium to high populations in all counties, with the highest levels still in the Cape Breton counties. Upland game harvest survey results showed an increase in snowshoe hares, with estimated harvest up about 14.6 per cent overall.


The bobcat harvest was up 6.7 per cent from last year, with a total of 1,103 animals taken. This increase probably at least partly reflects an increase in the bag limit from four to five in most counties. Abundance rankings for the province continued to increase. Other indicators of population status showed mixed results. The proportion of kittens in the harvest was down substantially, while the pregnancy rate of yearling females was up significantly from last year. As reported elsewhere in this issue, in the article Bobcat Reproduction, Age Structure and Bag Limit, the bag limit this fall will remain at five province-wide. Cumberland County has also now been raised to a bag limit of five. This is based on examination of all the biological and survey information.


The provincial beaver harvest declined by 9.0 per cent to 5,807 animals, but still remains relatively high. Pelt prices declined again this year, by approximately 27 per cent. Provincial abundance rankings showed an increase from 1997-98, but were still generally in the medium range across the province. After discussions with Department field staff and trappers, bag limits have been set at the same level as last year in all four zones. We recognize the fact that trappers often trap other aquatic furbearers (such as otter, mink, and muskrat) over a geographic area that extends beyond the boundaries of the beaver zone in which they permanently reside. As a result, regulations were recently changed to allow trappers to retain beaver taken in any zone. This is provided that they do not exceed in total the bag limit for the zone in which they permanently reside, and do not take in any one zone more than the bag limit for that zone. It appears that this change has not resulted in any major harvest management problems, and is providing us with an improved picture of the geographic distribution of our beaver harvest.


Otter harvests declined again this year, dropping 13.9 per cent to 478 animals. This is still in the middle of the range for harvests in recent years. While most other fur prices dropped in 1997-98, otter remained stable. However, this year saw prices fall by about 26 per cent to an average of $53.50, the lowest they have been since 1992-93. Abundance rankings increased slightly this year, but remained in the low to medium range (similar to the past several years). Preliminary results suggest that otter, like other fish-eating species, are being affected in some parts of Nova Scotia by environmental mercury contamination. We are collecting otter carcasses again this year to continue to improve our understanding of what is happening with the otter population. The status of this species will be closely monitored to ensure the maintenance of a sustainable population.


Muskrat catches continued to decline this year, dropping 15 per cent to 26,623. This harvest is still higher than most recent years prior to 1996-97. The average price decreased by nearly 27 per cent to $3.17, but still remained higher than in many recent years. Abundance rankings were up slightly overall.


The mink harvest was up 2.5 per cent from last year, with 1,724 animals taken. Abundance rankings were also up somewhat, while prices declined by about 17 per cent to $15.70.


Fur harvester abundance rankings, while increasing somewhat, continued to be in the low range for fisher. Under new regulations allowing retention of one accidentally caught fisher, 184 fisher were taken in 1997-98 by fur harvesters. Following an offer of financial support from the Trappers Association of Nova Scotia (TANS), a decision was made before the 1998-99 season to resume our fisher relocation program in cooperation with TANS. Consequently, the season was closed in all counties except Cumberland, Colchester, and Pictou, with the aim of bolstering populations in lower density areas. This resulted in a 29 per cent decline in the harvest this year, to 131 animals. This total is very similar to the number harvested in the previous year in those three counties. While the harvests of the past four seasons continue to be encouraging, we will need to continue close monitoring of this species to ensure continued population recovery and expansion. A report on the progress of the fisher live-capture and translocation and habitat research project can be found elsewhere in this issue, in the article Fisher Study Continues. We plan to continue this project this year, with additional animals being live-trapped and moved from Cumberland, Colchester, and Pictou counties to the south-central part of the province. This will hopefully bolster fisher numbers there, and eventually connect the eastern and western fisher populations. To increase the impact of this program and to protect relocated animals, regulations will remain the same as last year: trappers resident in Cumberland, Colchester, or Pictou counties will be allowed to retain one accidentally caught fisher if caught in either Cumberland, Colchester, or Pictou counties only. Fisher that are accidentally caught in all other areas of the province must be turned in to DNR, at least for the duration of this project. As with all seasons and bag limits, this regulation will be reviewed annually.


Raccoon harvests decreased by about 9.5 per cent to 5,577. Abundance rankings increased slightly, indicating a medium population level. Average price for raccoon furs decreased substantially from last year, with many pelts unsold by the auction houses. Outbreaks of distemper will likely continue to result in lower populations in affected areas.


Fox harvests decreased by 6.3 per cent to 841. Abundance rankings increased somewhat. Prices dropped about 28 per cent from last year.


Coyote harvests increased almost 18 per cent to 1,254. Overall abundance rankings were also up somewhat, while the average price showed little change from the previous year.

Other Species

Squirrel harvests remained high, increasing by 6.1 per cent to 6,543. Weasel harvests declined by 22 per cent to 468. Harvests of skunks increased by 50 per cent. Lynx, marten, and cougar remain totally protected. Occasional specimens of lynx and marten continue to be taken accidentally each year - trappers should make every effort to avoid accidental capture of these species.

Accidental Captures

Fur harvesters who accidentally catch protected species or animals in excess of their bag limits should try to release them alive if practical. If not, you must report your catch to an office of the Department of Natural Resources before it is removed from the trap site; this may be done by calling any DNR office, or by calling 1-800-565-2224, 24 hours a day. The office will advise you on how to handle the situation. Anyone found in possession of an animal to which they are not entitled without first notifying the Department may be charged. Most animals turned in to DNR are used for demonstration and training at the annual Trappers Workshop. Proceeds from the sale of pelts are used to support trapper education.

Fur Harvest as Calculated from Licence Returns
and Fur Buyer Slips in 1997/98

County Beaver Mu'rat Otter Mink B'cat Fox Coon Skunk Squirrel Weasel Coyote Fisher
Anna 309 1438 16 64 78 40 149 23 256 17 32 13
Digby 361 1146 19 248 33 27 207 2 1398 52 41 10
Kings 149 3706 8 76 12 77 615 2 429 3 77 3
Lunen. 485 423 37 160 69 77 530 9 377 31 67 2
Queens 242 151 19 93 99 3 179 0 413 9 52 5
Shel. 253 1292 32 83 102 25 138 0 63 22 70 0
Yar. 363 4435 19 201 78 25 221 0 259 60 34 5
Anti. 303 786 15 39 35 27 553 2 219 13 83 4
Col. 371 2332 10 56 43 44 651 4 250 26 84 47
Cum. 754 6884 25 132 20 54 1064 4 174 31 66 61
Guys. 102 60 33 30 21 12 61 0 67 19 13 10
Hfx. 456 774 90 265 154 79 342 9 222 77 107 5
Hants 381 1144 22 65 45 73 365 16 145 15 54 2
Pictou 662 1341 15 20 70 106 977 3 230 8 74 36
C Bret 372 2092 35 52 44 132 50 0 149 15 42 0
Inv. 514 2645 52 61 68 105 22 0 478 147 53 0
Rich. 216 552 57 20 34 33 14 0 56 49


Vic. 92 330 51 16 24 50 27 0 14 8 35 0
Total 6385 31531 555 1681 1029 989 6165 74 5199 602 1031 184

Fur Harvest as Calculated from Licence Returns
and Fur Buyer Slips in 1998/99

County Be'ver Mu'rat Otter Mink B'cat Fox Rac'on Skunk Sq'rel Weasel Coyote Fisher
Anna 188 1384 26 46 61 8 57 0 308 29 47 0
Digby 333 695 13 296 31 42 121 1 1520 35 42 1*
Kings 128 3500 10 66 13 70 522 23 159 5 120 3*
Lunen. 539 530 38 121 117 39 223 3 751 27 77 0
Queens 177 116 30 81 82 4 65 0 97 4 19 1*
Shel. 195 1222 28 82 111 16 128 0 32 9 36 0
Yar. 250 2716 10 190 66 20 103 1 579 40 54 0
Anti. 354 777 30 44 40 35 613 1 134 8 103 2*
Col. 487 2312 22 90 71 78 784 5 1254 37 84 46
Cum. 851 6403 20 165 60 87 1129 12 371 65 142 39
Guys. 60 54 29 18 17 6 39 3 33 2 24 1*
Hfx. 437 687 79 211 120 54 322 0 168 39 107 3*
Hants 245 690 18 48 53 50 342 12 32 7 63 0
Pictou 502 1111 14 26 59 56 970 90 57 16 65 35
C Bret 281 1625 11 81 37 113 54 0 5 4 31 0
Inv. 516 1783 38 79 95 81 47 0 864 87 112 0
Rich. 175 805 56 50 43 58 51 0 110 50


Vic. 89 213 6 30 27 24 7 0 69 4
Total 5807 26623 478 1724 1103 841 5577 151 6543 468 1254 131
* Incidental catches turned in to the Department of Natural Resources

Average Value of Wild Fur for Nova Scotia (Per Pelt)

90/91 91/92 92/93 93/94 94/95 95/96 96/97 97/98 98/99
Beaver $14.84 $15.14 $13.60 $32.30 $27.34 $32.37 $43.00 $34.90 $25.39
Muskrat $1.74 $2.25 $1.64 $2.94 $3.26 $3.82 $7.06 $4.32 $3.17
Otter $31.86 $44.99 $49.74 $106.47 $88.73 $63.65 $72.42 $72.43 $53.50
Mink $27.64 $29.13 $17.76 $22.60 $15.16 $19.54 $19.09 $18.84 $15.70
Bobcat $42.72 $40.69 $32.28 $72.35 $66.84 $44.32 $76.96 $58.95 $48.92
Fox $15.35 $16.91 $12.99 $24.43 $25.43 $24.43 $25.59 $23.38 $16.79
Racoon $6.50 $6.15 $10.04 $15.67 $14.35 $14.62 $23.97 $21.53 $12.14
Weasel $2.76 $2.47 $3.56 $4.54 $3.05 $3.61 $5.69 $2.88 $2.90
Squirrel $0.75 $0.95 $1.22 $1.00 $1.00 $0.77 $2.42 $1.05 $0.74
Skunk N/A $3.04 $5.06 $4.01 $3.60 $4.29 $4.00 $1.97 $4.37
Fisher N/A $21.90 $16.37 $27.08 $19.95 $29.79 $46.64 $39.93 $28.12
Bear N/A $47.54 $38.64 $76.64 $64.59 $51.12 $99.21 $76.47 $70.57
Coyote $17.21 $26.25 $27.10 $35.32 $22.36 $20.00 $33.14 $20.25 $20.53

FurBearing Animals Taken by Fur Harvesters
from 1990 to 1999

90/91 91/92 92/93 93/94 94/95 95/96 96/97 97/98
Beaver 2368 2769 3340 4801 7677 6090 8642 6385 5807
Muskrat 10719 11115 11420 12956 18248 22118 36834 31531 26623
Otter 226 378 415 585 1027 797 765 555 478
Mink 1229 1362 1609 1531 1929 1829 2168 1681 1724
Bobcat 420 311 337 499 809 703 976 1029 1103
Fox 626 894 1147 846 1741 1118 1549 898 841
Raccoon 911 1997 2745 3599 6676 5435 6490 6165 5577
Weasel 224 232 522 1164 1207 1375 1037 602 468
Squirrel 658 3800 4112 1914 6852 8355 6890 5199 6543
Skunk 17 25 35 122 168 131 229 74 151
Fisher 3 3 11 9 16 124 217 184 131
Coyote 777 865 1276 1087 1887 1155 1311 1031 1254

Fur Harvester Licence Sales

Annapolis 85 91 114 92 105 92 96 102 77
Antigonish 50 44 122 63 72 70 82 75 68
Colchester 115 119 156 112 134 136 137 115 83
Cumberland 153 118 242 177 211 200 216 181 137
Digby 74 73 101 82 111 102 110 86 108
Guysborough 98 83 157 93 106 66 71 77 84
Halifax 108 124 174 181 200 139 190 190 104
Hants 48 63 102 91 106 89 99 107 70
Kings 101 99 142 112 126 110 111 106 97
Lunenburg 94 97 140 123 125 116 117 106 107
Pictou 125 105 163 154 164 157 169 159 140
Queens 75 72 92 72 79 68 76 76 65
Shelburne 82 71 100 91 107 99 100 94 90
Yarmouth 91 79 129 120 137 127 151 145 128
Cape Breton 59 56 86 88 100 94 97 110 83
Inverness 72 74 98 82 92 85 82 80 75
Richmond 52 54 80 63 76 68 76 70 74
Victoria 20 27 62 41 40 32 37 24 20
TOTAL 1,502 1,449 2,260 1,837 2,091 1,850 2,017 1,903 1,649

Note: Four year license rule announced during 92/93 resulting in increased sales.

Bobcat Reproduction, Age Structure and Bag Limit
By Mike O'Brien and Mike Boudreau

The state of Nova Scotia's bobcat population has been of concern since a decline occurred in the early 1980s. In order to monitor this situation, the Department has collected bobcat carcasses from fur harvesters during most trapping seasons since that time (including a mandatory collection for the past twelve years). These collections have provided information on location, date of capture, and harvest methods, and allowed DNR to determine sex and age ratios, as well as reproductive success of the population.

Figure 1 shows that the percentage of kittens in the harvest has been fluctuating in recent years. In the 1998-99 harvest, it decreased considerably after a substantial rise in 1997-98. This decrease is indicative of the number of new animals entering the population. It may reflect some unfavorable environmental factor(s) in 1997-98, resulting in poorer reproductive success for yearlings and/or poorer survival of young. It may also be showing that increases in bobcat numbers had begun to catch up with expansions in snowshoe hare populations at that time, so that competition for prey had become more of a factor for younger, less experienced animals. Other factors such as trapper interest and effort, and effects of weather on trapping conditions, are difficult to measure directly. However, they may influence representation of age classes in the kill.

In bobcat populations, the percentage of pregnant adult females is generally quite high, around 90 per cent in most seasons. The percentage of pregnant yearlings shown in Figure 2 has been much more variable, probably reflecting environmental factors and overall population conditions. These "yearlings" (actually only around 10 months old when they are bred) are much more likely to become pregnant when they are in good body condition. The relatively easy winter of 1994-95 appears to be strongly reflected in the 1995-96 results, with 59 per cent of the yearling females pregnant. In both 1996-97 and 1997-98, the proportion of yearling females showing evidence of pregnancy the previous spring declined to 37 and 31 per cent respectively. In 1998-99, the percentage of pregnant yearlings increased once again to around 44 per cent. This increase may reflect increasing trends in snowshoe hare abundance in mainland counties. These fluctuations are perhaps a bit more difficult to attribute to winter conditions, since the winters of 1995-96, 1996-97, 1997-98, and 1998-99 have all been relatively easy.

Various indices of snowshoe hare populations suggest the numbers of this important bobcat prey species may be past their peak in the current cycle in Cape Breton, but still increasing on the mainland. Bobcat populations appear to be healthy and supporting increasing harvests. Abundance rankings are also continuing to increase. Considering this information, as well as other indices discussed above, the bag limit for the 1999-2000 season has not been changed for most counties. There is a bag limit change from one to five in Cumberland County, as data gathered in that area no longer supported a reduced bag limit. Consequently, the bag limit is now five animals across the province.

Species Abundance as Recorded by Fur Harvesters
By Mike O'Brien and Mike Boudreau

Fur harvesters were asked again last year to record their perception of population levels for 14 animal species. Population levels for five of those species have been reported for ten years, while population levels for the other nine species have been reported for six years. This has been a very successful program as it gives us the ability to draw on hundreds of skilled observers, who tell us how abundant each species is in their area. We encourage all fur harvesters to fill in this section, as higher numbers of participants increases the accuracy of the data.

Rankings for individual counties may not provide a reliable picture of annual trends because of low response numbers from some areas. The summaries for each of the three regions, as well as the provincial totals, are considered very reliable. The table shows results for the 1998-99 season. The numbers are averages calculated by assigning values to the ranks selected by each fur harvester. The values given to the ranks are shown under the table.

The lowest possible value for a County is "0", which means that all respondents in that County felt that none of that particular species was present in their area. The highest possible value is "4", which means that all respondents from that County felt that numbers for that species were "very high".

This type of information is most valuable when looking at changes from year to year, and graphs are presented to show the rankings for five species over a ten year period for all of Nova Scotia.

Average Abundance Rankings Made by Fur Harvesters on License Reports in 1998/99

Co. Hare B'ver Mu'rat Otter Mink B'cat Fox Coon Skunk Sqr'el Weasel C'yote Fisher Bear
Anna. 1.64 2.12 1.73 1.37 1.40 1.90 1.29 1.39 2.00 3.21 1.60 2.56 0.81 1.95
Digby 2.63 1.91 1.85 0.91 1.75 1.57 1.72 1.41 0.47 2.97 1.42 2.17 1.02 1.29
Kings 1.69 1.74 2.25 1.10 1.52 1.63 1.63 1.91 2.50 2.68 1.11 2.21 0.58 1.63
Lun. 1.82 2.02 1.62 1.08 1.40 1.51 1.43 1.82 1.36 2.89 1.38 2.21 0.39 1.71
Q'eens 1.82 2.28 1.73 1.69 2.09 2.31 1.03 2.42 1.00 3.17 1.36 2.26 0.69 2.14
Shelb. 2.35 1.84 1.97 1.54 1.70 2.18 1.37 2.54 0.35 2.53 1.45 2.52 0.43 2.06
Y'mth 2.77 2.08 2.22 1.32 1.73 20.7 1.16 1.55 0.35 2.79 1.68 2.02 0.70 1.64
WEST 2.14 1.98 1.93 1.28 1.64 1.89 1.40 1.84 1.27 2.86 1.44 2.29 0.67 1.78

Co. Hare B'ver Mu'rat Otter Mink B'cat Fox Coon Skunk Sqr'el Weasel C'yote Fisher Bear
Ant. 2.24 2.49 2.20 1.59 1.55 2.10 1.78 2.55 2.34 2.62 1.63 2.67 0.79 1.79
Col. 2.43 2.27 2.09 1.67 1.85 2.13 1.58 2.84 2.56 3.17 1.61 2.45 2.16 2.23
Cumb. 2.30 2.12 1.83 1.09 1.53 1.80 1.80 2.55 2.17 2.87 1.59 2.15 1.49 2.26
Guys. 1.30 2.13 1.47 1.74 1.52 1.78 1.45 1.94 1.65 2.94 1.65 2.70 0.36 1.27
H'fax 1.96 1.98 1.54 1.53 1.70 1.82 1.24 1.97 1.45 2.55 1.49 2.27 0.36 1.76
Hants 2.34 2.02 1.94 1.41 1.59 2.04 1.80 2.17 2.37 2.64 1.49 2.31 0.56 1.44
P'tou 2.31 2.41 2.18 1.33 1.46 1.85 1.86 2.48 2.45 2.76 1.66 2.39 1.61 1.71
EAST 2.18 2.19 1.89 1.42 1.60 1.91 1.65 2.38 2.13 2.78 1.58 2.36 1.17 1.85

Co. Hare B'ver Mu'rat Otter Mink B'cat Fox Coon Skunk Sqr'el Weasel C'yote Fisher Bear
CB 2.89 1.95 2.02 1.12 1.48 1.93 1.86 1.63 0.13 2.52 1.57 1.96 0.05 0.38
Inv. 2.88 2.33 2.30 1.30 1.52 2.48 1.78 1.80 0.07 3.03 1.57 2.52 0.00 1.46
Rich. 2.69 2.09 2.14 1.80 1.49 1.86 1.81 1.56 0.26 2.98 1.87 2.35 0.09 0.20
Vict. 2.46 1.35 2.20 1.00 1.44 2.11 2.11 1.13 0.29 2.73 1.42 2.83 0.08 1.22
CB 2.77 2.04 2.17 1.35 1.49 2.13 1.86 1.60 0.17 2.85 1.64 2.39 0.04 0.92

Prov. 2.27 2.08 1.95 1.36 1.60 1.94 1.60 2.05 1.55 2.82 1.54 2.34 0.85 1.69

Ranks were assigned values as follows: None - 0 Low - 1 Medium - 2 High - 3 Very High - 4

Additional Traps Meet International Standards

The most recent test results from the Fur Institute of Canada's trap research program indicate that eight more killing traps and three more restraining traps have met the requirements related to animal welfare as set out in the Agreement on International Humane Trapping Standards. This brings to 18 the number of trapping devices that have met the specific performance thresholds included in the Agreement.

Bob Carmichael, chairman of the Institute's Trap Research and Development Committee, said that "...these latest results are very encouraging for Canadian trappers and trap manufacturers as many of the devices are those currently being used for various species."

Newly added to the growing list are the Woodstream Conibear 330, used on land for beaver and lynx, as well as the Woodstream Conibear 330 modified for lynx. The modification, which adds power to the Conibear 330, is one that trappers can make themselves to the standard trap by welding flat steel bars to the striking frames. The flat bars are 19.7 cm long, 1.6 cm wide, and 0.6 mm thick. The four killing traps listed for marten are new additions, as are the two leghold traps for lynx and the footsnare for bobcat.

Expert trappers across Canada are working with the Fur Institute of Canada and the Vegreville, Alberta-based Trap Effectiveness Research Team on this important and ongoing trap testing program. More test results are expected later this year. Mr. Carmichael said that "...this latest announcement is another step toward meeting the Institute's objective of ensuring that the best possible furbearer capture technology is available to Canadian trappers."

The Institute will update the list of trapping devices that meet specific performance requirements of the Standards as trap testing is completed and the results evaluated.

International Humane Trapping Standards

The list on the opposite page applies to traps meeting specific performance requirements as set out in the Agreement on International Humane Trapping Standards. They are subject to certification by the provincial and territorial governments and those aboriginal agencies that are sanctioned to regulate trapping methods. - The Fur Institute of Canada

Killing Traps

These traps meet the time to loss of consciousness and sensibility thresholds as set out in the Agreement. Killing traps similar to those listed and produced by other manufacturers could meet these standards provided that their mechanical performance is higher than or equal to a reference trap for each species.

Beaver Woodstream, Conibear 330 - underwater and on land Woodstream, Conibear 330 modified - underwater
Weasel Victor, Rat Trap
Fisher Sauvageau, 2001-8
Marten Sauvageau 2001-5 Sauvageau C120 Magnum Belisle Super X 120 LDL B120 Magnum
Muskrat Woodstream, Conibear 120 - on land Jaw-type leghold trap - with submersion system
Lynx Woodstream, Conibear 330 Woodstream, Conibear 330 modified
Raccoon Woodstream, Conibear 160 Woodstream, Conibear 220

Restraining Traps

These traps meet the injury and behavioral thresholds as set out in the Agreement.

Lynx Victor #3 Soft Catch equipped with 4 coil springs Victor #3 equipped with 3/16 inch jaw laminations and 4 coil springs
Bobcat Belisle foot snare
Coyote Belisle foot snare

Editor's Note:

The traps listed in the above press release from the Fur Institute of Canada have been shown to meet the requirements related to animal welfare as set out in the Agreement on International Humane Trapping Standards. Certification for use in Canadian jurisdictions is the responsibility of the wildlife management authorities of the provinces and territories. The certification process is currently under development by the Canadian Furbearer Management Committee (a committee of representatives from the wildlife agencies of each of the provinces and territories). Certification will most certainly also include consideration of such factors as capture efficiency and user safety, in addition to animal welfare performance requirements.

Black Bear in Nova Scotia
By Vince Power

The Province issued 614 bear hunting licenses in 1998; of these, 220 hunters (35.8 per cent) reported having harvested a bear. The 11 per cent increase in success rate over 1997 means a 35 per cent increase in kill. Of the 142 trappers who pursued bear in 1998, 65 (45.5 per cent) reported having snared a bear.

Bear hunters who chose to carry a firearm in pursuit of a bruin required an average of 17.2 days afield to harvest a bear in 1998; this compares with 26.9 days afield in 1997. Bow hunters averaged 23.3 days afield to be successful in 1998 compared with 21.7 days in 1997. Trappers averaged 24.9 snare nights per bear in 1998; due to problems with our reporting system, the 1997 results are unavailable. Archers accounted for 16.6 per cent of the total harvest in 1998, down from 22.4 per cent in 1997. Firearm users increased their portion of the total take to 83.4 per cent in 1998 compared with 77.6 per cent in 1997.

Age profiles derived from the premolar teeth submitted by successful hunters and trappers is still the most significant biological information we have on bears in the province. Young male bears (less than five years), have averaged 55 per cent of the total harvest since 1996. Females older than five years - in their prime breeding age - have averaged only 10.4 per cent of the total take over the same period.

Hunters and trappers should anticipate the 1999 season to be much like the last two. Three out of every ten hunters will probably take a bear, as will almost half of those setting bear snares. The age profiles continue to indicate that our prime breeding animals are not being over-exploited, and better than half the animals taken this year should be young males.

Nova Scotia Bear Harvest, 1990-1998

Hunting Licenses Calculated Hunter Harvest Mean Hunter Success Snaring Permits Calculated Snaring Harvest Non-Hunting Related Mortalities
Resident Non-Resident
1990 245 13 99 35.20% 111 57 18
1991 364 10 178 47.60% 102 53 26
1992 239 30 76 29.70% 104 43 15
1993 286 44 111 44.24% 129 60 29
1994 481 37 232 44.84% 181 110 40
1995 708 81 255 32.41% 227 91 41
1996 656 102 222 29.33% 184 67 30
1997 540 116 163 24.81% 162 66 19
1998 505 109 220 35.77% 142 65 30

Trap Standards - Update on the EU Agreement and Canadian Trap Standards
By Mike O'Brien

In late 1997, the European Union (EU), Canada, and Russia signed the Agreement on International Humane Trapping Standards (IAHTS). This Agreement averted the implementation of European legislation that would have prohibited the importing of 13 species of wild furs into Europe from Canada. The effects of such a ban would have been very serious, affecting all our major furbearing species except mink and fox. Likely even the market for these would have been indirectly affected. The industry has been seeking and developing alternate markets (for example Asian countries), but the European market currently accounts for approximately 70 per cent of the market for Canadian wild fur. Recent gains in Asian markets have been significantly affected by the economic uncertainty in that region. The industry has been dealt a further serious blow by market losses as a result of the severe downturn in the Russian economy.

The United States had previously withdrawn from the official Canada-EU-Russia negotiations. In late 1997, the Americans concluded a separate understanding with the EU which is similar to the one agreed to by Canada, though a bit more lenient. As a result, complications and negative effects of having US fur blocked out of EU markets were also averted. However, the greater leniency in the US agreement on such issues as implementation schedules is frustrating from a Canadian perspective. Federal diplomatic officials in Ottawa indicate that we will not be able to obtain such changes to our Agreement.

A major event in the implementation of the IAHTS occurred on June 1 of this year, with the ratification of the Agreement by Canada on a bilateral basis with the EU. The bilateral option had been included to allow for the Agreement to move forward in the event that Russia was unable to ratify within a reasonable time period. It became apparent earlier this year that due to its economic and political situation, it was unlikely that Russia would be able to ratify within the near future. After careful consideration of the options available, including the risks and uncertainties of leaving the Agreement un-ratified in the face of upcoming changes in the EU administration, the various Canadian stakeholders asked the federal government to proceed with bilateral ratification. Prior to ratification, consultations had taken place with our US and Russian partners. The separate US agreement with the EU only went into effect in the event of ratification by Canada, Russia, and the EU. However, after Canada's ratification in June, the US decided in August to also bring their agreement in to force as of June 1, 1999. Canada will continue to make every effort to encourage and support Russian ratification at the earliest possible opportunity.

The signing of this Agreement with the EU has kept the critical European marketplace open to Canadian furs. However, it was reached only at considerable cost to the wild fur producing nations. With the initialing of the original Agreement in 1997, we became obligated to ban the use of conventional steel-jawed leghold restraining traps not later than the end of the 2000-01 trapping season - regardless of whether or not the traps would otherwise pass thresholds set for restraining trap standards, (which is very likely for some species). The bilateral ratification of the Agreement on June 1, 1999 started the clock ticking on the schedule for testing of various other restraining and killing trap systems against the standards in the IAHTS. Significant effort and expense over a relatively short time frame will continue to be required to test and improve current systems, as well as to develop new traps and trapping systems. Without such an effort, trappers will not be able to continue efficiently harvesting wild furbearers. After testing and development are completed, the cost to trappers of retooling with traps which meet the standards mandated by this Agreement may be considerable. A report on traps which have so far been shown to meet the animal welfare requirements of the Agreement is included elsewhere in this issue of Trappers Newsletter.

On the positive side the markets are still open, and we can certainly be proud of the many capable representatives from the various players in the fur industry (such as governments, the Fur Institute of Canada, trapper organizations, fur auctions, fur farmers, etc.) who have made, and continue to make, important contributions toward dealing with this situation. Unfortunately, this is not simply an issue of science, factual information, and technological improvement, but also of animal rights, public relations campaigns, strong emotions, and politics. And though the threat to the EU markets may have been successfully resolved, the lobby groups will undoubtedly continue their attacks on the industry in other arenas. Canada's leadership in humane trap standards, trapping system development, fur harvester training, furbearer conservation and management, and in implementing this Agreement are strong demonstrations of our commitment to humane, sustainable furbearer resource utilization. Our efforts will also be invaluable assets in combating propaganda campaigns against management and use of wild furbearer populations.

In late September 1997, a meeting was held in Quebec City between representatives of federal, provincial, and territorial government agencies, aboriginal peoples, and trappers to discuss the implications and requirements of the Agreement. Discussion centered around timetables and options available for complying with the Agreement, along with such issues as direction and funding for required trap testing, research, and certification, and coordination between different jurisdictions. While the federal government coordinated negotiations and signed the Agreement on behalf of Canada, the actual mandate for managing furbearing species rests with the provincial, territorial, and aboriginal land claim governments. Consequently, only they can implement the requirements of the Agreement, and approaches for doing this may vary between jurisdictions.

Following the meeting in Quebec, discussions between the various jurisdictions and interest groups on implementation and coordination have continued both nationally and internationally. The Trap Research and Development Committee of the Fur Institute of Canada is leading the trap testing and development work for our country. Its primary goal is to ensure that effective, economical, safe, and humane traps are available for Canadian trappers. The FIC also plays a key role in facilitating many other processes and activities necessary for the implementation of the Agreement. The Canadian Furbearer Management Committee (a national committee comprised of representatives from each of the provincial and territorial government wildlife agencies, that reports to the wildlife directors) has been working on various issues to ensure harmonization and coordination of interpretation and implementation of the Agreement in the various Canadian jurisdictions. The process for certification of traps as required in the Agreement is currently under development. This group also advises the wildlife directors on furbearer management related issues, and provides representation for the provincial and territorial jurisdictions at various international meetings pertaining to the implementation of the Agreement.

The Canadian Wildlife Directors are moving ahead with the formation and mandating of the Canadian Management Committee for the implementation of the IAHTS. From that group will come direction on the composition of the Canadian delegation to the IAHTS Joint Management Committee, as well as on the actual work eventually undertaken by that delegation. It is being suggested that Canada should offer to host the first Joint Management Committee meeting, which the Agreement requires to take place by June, 2000.

Trappers and trapper organizations continue (along with other stakeholders when appropriate) to play key roles in various aspects of the efforts surrounding this Agreement: participation in FIC activities and committees, cooperation in trap testing, research and development, delivery and development of furharvester education, representation on international delegations, and direct input to provincial and territorial governments. This work is being done in close cooperation with US and Russian counterparts to ensure coordination of efforts and sharing of information. Anyone wanting more details on the EU Agreement and how it will affect trappers here and in other parts of Canada, as well as information on trap research and development or related topics, should contact the Furbearers and Upland Game Section of the Wildlife Division, Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources (contact information inside the front cover of Trappers Newsletter).

It had been hoped that the Canadian General Standards Board Humane Trap Standards process would be completed by now. Representatives of trapper organizations, native peoples, governments, the Fur Institute of Canada, trap manufacturers, humane trap researchers, animal welfare groups, and other interested parties have been meeting regularly since the summer of 1995. After considerable effort, a standard for killing traps on land was agreed to, and received final committee ratification in 1997. Work continued on Canadian standards for restraining and submersion devices. Drafts of both standards had been approved in principle at committee meetings held in Halifax in April 1997. A follow-up meeting in Calgary in fall 1997 failed to complete this work. Revised drafts were completed following that meeting, but have been put on hold pending certain decisions about the implementation of the IAHTS and the results of some of the testing efforts related to that initiative. Canada is a world leader in humane trap research and development, and is the first country to develop and implement a trap standards process. Even with the implementation of the EU Agreement it is still important that our Canadian Standards process be completed and in place. These are the only standards developed by Canadians for Canadians, and will stay in place regardless of whether the EU Agreement remains in force or is terminated by any party at some future date. Trappers have played an important role in these efforts, a fact of which we can be justifiably proud. Current Nova Scotia representatives on the Canadian General Standards Board Trap Standards Committee are Paul Tufts from the Trappers Association of Nova Scotia and Mike O'Brien from the Department of Natural Resources. Anyone with questions about the Canadian standards process should contact either of the above.

Undoubtedly the fur industry faces difficulties now and in the future. However, continued hard work and cooperation between government, fur harvesters, and other players in the industry should ensure the wise use of this natural resource, as well as the survival of a distinctly Canadian industry and way of life.

Trappers Association of Nova Scotia

Application for Membership

I hereby apply for membership in the Trappers Association of Nova Scotia and I agree to abide by its bylaws.

(Please Print)

Date __________________________

Surname ____________________________ Given Name __________________________

Full Address _____________________________________________________________

Town, City, etc. ___________________________________________________________

County ____________________ Province _____________ Postal Code ___________

(Your complete address is important)

Occupation ______________________________________________________________

Age _________________ Approx. number of years trapping ____________________

Please check one: Renewal ________ New Member _________

Membership Dues @$15.00 per year - Renewable September 1st of each year.

Life Membership $150.00

Free badges for 5,10,15, & 20 years of bona fide membership.

Please Send me the following:

Membership years @$15.00 per year $ _________________

Embroidered crests @$5.00 each $ _________________

Trappers' hats @$6.00 each $ _________________

Camouflage hats @$7.00 each $ _________________

Rendezvous hats @$6.00 each $ _________________

Winter hats @$8.00 each $ _________________

Fur Harvester Education Manuals @$30.00 each $ _________________

Fur Preparation Videos @$25.00 each $ _________________

tape 1: Semi-aquatic furbearers (Specify which tape)

(covers muskrat, mink and beaver) @$45.00 for set of 2 $ _________________

tape 2: Upland furbearers

(covers raccoon, bobcat and coyote)

Lapel pins @$4.00 each $ _________________

T-shirts @$15.00 each $ _________________

plus postage and handling cover (per order): $ 3.00

Total $ _________________

Hats (adjustable size) come in orange and other colours. Indicate colour preferred.

Please send payment with application to: Trappers Association of Nova Scotia

R.R. #2 New Ross, NS BOJ 2M0

Nuisance Wildlife Operators Association
By Mike Larade, President, NWOANS

Trapping nuisance wildlife has historically been under government jurisdiction. In 1993, it was opened up to private business. The Nuisance Wildlife Operators Association of Nova Scotia (NWOANS) was formed about four years ago with the goal of establishing a code of ethics wand working guidelines for this area of work. The Association also looks after the interests of the nuisance wildlife operators across the province in dealing with government regulations, and in determining what steps should be taken to ensure the best interests of the animals and the public are served.

The NWOANS is open to anyone who is licensed nuisance wildlife operator in Nova Scotia. We meet annually (on the last weekend in April), and have demonstrations at the meetings, as well as a representative from the Department of Natural Resources present. One of our latest initiatives is working to set up a training course specifically geared toward nuisance animals.

Many challenges lie ahead for the nuisance wildlife industry, including inevitable scrutiny from the media and the public and promoting the fur industry as a viable wildlife management tool. Our focus must remain on education, both for our clients and the general public.

Membership in the Association costs $20 a year, and applications can be sent to:

Nuisance Wildlife Operators
Association of Nova Scotia
P.O. Box 25023
Halifax, NS
B3M 4H4


North American Fur Producers Marketing Inc.
(formerly Hudsons Bay Fur Sales)
65 Skyway Ave., Rexdale, Ontario M9W 6C7
Phone: 416-675-9320
Nova Scotia Representative
Furafee Trading Inc.
115 Brunswick St., Truro, N.S. B2N 4P6
Phone: 902-895-2511

Fur Harvesters Auction Inc.
Fur Harvesters auction Sales Inc.
1971 Bond St., North Bay, Ont. P1B 4V7
Maritime Representative,
Larry Estabrooks Maritime Depot
Comp 14, Site 3, R.R.9
Fredericton, New Brunswick
Phone: 506-453-0618
Fur Harvesters Auction Inc. Annual Convention March 24,25 and 26, 2000

1999-2000 Auction Dates:
Sale Date: December 16, 1999
Last Receiving Date:
Wild Fur - November 29, 1999
Sale Date: February 24-25, 2000
Last Receiving Date:
Wild Fur - January 10, 2000
Sale Date: May 17-18, 2000
Last Receiving Date:
Wild Fur - April 3, 2000

1999-2000 Auction Dates:
Sale Date: December 13, 1999
Last Receiving Date: November 27, 1999

Sale Date: February 13, 2000
Last Receiving Date: January 8, 2000

Sale Date: April 18, 2000
Last Receiving Date: April 1, 2000
Sale Date: June 6, 2000
Last Receiving Date: May 18, 2000
Note: Depots will have earlier last receiving dates; please check with the depot nearest to you for more information.

Fisher Study Continues
By Derek Potter

Folks in the Parrsboro and Collingwood areas of the province have undoubtedly noticed a half ton truck with a tv antenna mounted on the roof driving around. Many have stared as they were driving by, and some have stopped to ask what was going on. The truck, along with its various attachments, is part of a study on fisher habitat use. The information gained from the study will contribute to a better understanding of the factors affecting fisher populations in the province.

At the urging of the Trappers Association of Nova Scotia (TANS), the Department of Natural Resources began a project to reintroduce fishers to areas of their former range within the province. Along the way, the researchers hope to learn more about this species' habitat needs, as well as movement patterns. Examination of the variables associated with reintroducing this forest carnivore into new territory will help to pinpoint the factors which contribute to a successful release. This is especially important if the emphasis on re-introductions as a means of species conservation is to continue.

During the 1998-99 fur harvest season, a few trappers in Cumber-land and Colchester counties were paid to live trap fishers for the project. Animals were held at the Melynx fur ranch in Maccan until such time as they could be transferred to the Wildlife Park at Shubenacadie. Most of the animals were held there until they could be fitted with radio collars, then were released and monitored.

Originally, captured fishers were to be relocated to central areas of the province (possibly Halifax or Hants counties) in order to provide a connection between eastern and western populations. This would also help to bolster the provincial population as a whole. However, in collaboration with the Biology Department at Acadia University, it was decided that it would be better to learn more about what the animals do in their home areas before releasing them into new ones. Hopefully data gathered in the home areas will help in determining whether their movements in new areas is the result of it being an unfamiliar environment, or is simply a part of an individual's normal habits.

A total of twelve animals were live trapped and fitted with radio collars so that their location could be determined after release. Toward the end of April, seven of these animals were released in the area surrounding the Chignecto Game Sanctuary, while five more were released near Collingwood; the latter were left as close as possible to their capture site, but spring road conditions made it impossible to reach the actual capture site on several occasions. Two of the Collingwood animals slipped their collars only a few days after their release, and three more individuals have not been found since they were released. This is possibly because they have moved too far away for the signal from their collar transmitters to be picked up. The remaining seven animals are providing useful information with respect to habitat choice and activity patterns.

Department personnel have been monitoring these animals on a daily basis since early May, and will continue to do so into the fall. Each animal's position is determined by the use of a receiver which can be tuned to the frequency of the collars. Since each collar has a separate frequency, one animal can be distinguished from another. The collar antennae which were used are directional; therefore, by pointing the antenna in the direction of the strongest signal, it is possible to tell the direction to the animal. Changing the receiver's position by moving the truck further along the road allows three bearings to be taken. The animal's position is the point at which the resulting three lines intersect.

Each animal has been located an average of thirty times so far, thus giving a fairly good representation of their home range. Using this information in conjunction with data in the province's GIS forestry database should also help to determine the fishers' preferred habitat. While data analysis has yet to be performed, home range sizes seem to be about 17 to 20 square kilometres for males, and 5 to 10 square kilometres for females. The habitat most often used includes both mixed forest and coniferous stands. The age of these stands has yet to be determined, but the animals seem to travel and presumably hunt in both early and late-aged forest. Some of the animals in the study are often found along streams and their associated valleys, while others seem to ignore watercourses. No other geographic feature stands out as a preferred attraction.

Each animal has also been 'followed' for at least one full 24 hour period, with a location recorded each half-hour. This has been done in order to ascertain the periods of peak activity, the paths the aimals use to get from one area to the next, and how quickly the animals travel. Peak activity includes the periods between 4 a.m. and 9 a.m., and 7 p.m. and 10 p.m., although they have traveled during midday as well. Males seem to travel further with more rest areas than females, who seem to use the same rest area or den site for several days, venturing out from it to hunt at dawn and dusk. One male traveled a total distance of 16 kilometres during a single day, and was capable of covering one kilometre per half hour over a six hour period.

This fall, the collared animals will be trapped again and relocated along with other individuals to areas in the central part of the province. By attempting to extend the population, it is hoped to eventually connect the eastern and western populations. This linking of the two populations will enable fishers to inhabit most of their former range in Nova Scotia. Along with several years worth of harvest location data, the information provided by this study in Cumberland and Colchester counties will provide a good idea as to where fishers should be released in order to increase their chances of survival.

Where are the Lynx?

The Canada Lynx was once very common on Cape Breton Island. Competition with bobcat and coyote, along with other factors, has contributed to a significant population decline in recent years. DNR staff are trying to determine the present range and numbers of lynx on the island.

As a trapper, you can help in several ways: