Bonjour, messieurs et mesdames. Thank you very much for having us this morning.
The New Brunswick Wildlife Federation was formed in 1924 to address a drastic decrease in big game populations. Our founding fathers understood the North American conservation model concept to be the answer to saving wildlife. Trapping is part of that model.
Culturally, hunting and trapping in our province are valued heritage activities, with traditions passed down from generation to generation. We have many traditions in New Brunswick, and I'll name just a few. For those hunters who can relate to the restless evening the night before an early morning duck hunt, we have a hunters breakfast at a local diner or at the Lion's Club. A lot of people can relate to the opening day of deer season after all the preparations—the scouting-the-trail cameras, the reconnaissance, the purchasing of all the equipment needed—to make our hunts more pleasurable. Here in New Brunswick we have the coveted moose hunt, a three-day hunt where most will spend the whole week, and many previous weekends, in the search and pursuit of our quarry. As well, unique out here is what we call the “cast and blast”; you can angle for Atlantic salmon in the morning and in the afternoon you can go for an upland game bird hunt.
Aside from those hunting and trapping activities, you have many families gathering at deer camps or moose camps after the hunt or even during, where they can celebrate the great outdoors and what it provides to us. Many will meet after the hunt to share food, music, and friendship.
Economically these are very important endeavours. Licence sales alone in the province were estimated at $3.7 million last year. We had 1,300 trapping licences. We sold 50,000 deer licences and 4,700 black bear licences; 2,000 of those were non-residents. We have 4,600 moose tags as well as 150 non-resident licences, with 70,000 applicants vying for the 4,600 moose permits.
Hunting, angling, and trapping benefit our rural communities where we have a slower economy. They purchase food, fuel, and other necessities for the hunt. Many hunters and anglers and trappers invest in camps and equipment, and not only for the initial building of the camps. They purchase materials for the annual upkeep as well. Our pelt exports from New Brunswick last year had a $1.2-million value.
Participation in hunting and trapping is more prevalent among the middle-aged and seniors, but licence sales tend to increase when wildlife populations thrive. Trapping will see an increase in licence sales if the price of fur is up, but because of the large investment involved, these increases are modest. As was previously said, we had 1,300 of these trapping licences last year, and that was with depressed prices.
Hunting and trapping courses are very popular in our province. They're filled to capacity around the province. It bodes well for the future that maybe our youth, or new people, are coming into these heritage forests.
In terms of contribution to wildlife management and conservation, hunters and trappers are very sensitive to the issues affecting wildlife. If we do not recruit the youth into these heritage forests, who will protect the habitat that supports fish and wildlife? You know, when we use it, we own it. We seem to be more passionate if we do participate.
Trappers in New Brunswick have signed on to the agreement on international humane trapping, and only certified traps are used. With these measures, they support the protection of fur bearers of special concern. Trappers who want to harvest bobcat, otter, and marten in our province must apply for tags that are allocated by species and zones. Trappers, upon harvesting, must affix a tag to the pelt and present the carcass of these animals to the regional office to obtain their export permits. The animals are sexed, aged, weighed, and the reproduction success determined, giving good baseline data to the provincial biologists who manage these populations. The role of science research and monitoring is critical to determine any change to the environment or disease that will have detrimental effects on wildlife populations. Trapper information helps to further this research.
With regard to wildlife enhancement programs and policies in New Brunswick, when purchasing a licence in New Brunswick, five dollars from each licence goes to the New Brunswick Wildlife Trust Fund.
This, together with the sale of conservation licence plates for our vehicles, provides funding in excess of $1.2 million annually, which is distributed to non-profit groups for wildlife conservation and educational projects, including trapping courses and other projects.
In conclusion, these are our general wildlife and trapping comments for New Brunswick. Our federation fully supports and endorses trappers' role in the conservation and wise use of our fur-bearers, as well as their role in providing income for their families, harvesting surplus animals in the population, and providing baseline data for provincial biologists and research.
The biggest threat faced by wildlife is habitat management. Last year, our province increased its softwood harvest by 20% and reduced the old growth conservation forests from 28% to 23% while, at the same time, cutting deer yards that are crucial to deer wintering survival.
This is why we call for reform and why we support the traditions of hunting and trapping in our province.
I thank you.