Thank you very much for inviting me to speak on behalf of the association.
I'd like to start by saying that we're neither specialists in hunting nor is that covered in our mandate, so I won't be speaking about that subject today. I'd also like to point out that we are neither animal rights activists nor ideologues. We are not extremists. We've been around since 1953, and we provided funding to help develop the Conibear trap at that time. Ultimately, we decided that trying to find a humane trap was not a realistic goal and we now focus on solutions, humane processes, and education.
I'd like to register a bit of concern about one or two of the biologists you've had here in the past who are admittedly hunters and trappers and receive funding from hunters and trappers, speaking about biology in this regard. We'd be happy to provide contact information for scientists who do not have any such associations and would be appropriate third-party speakers.
I'd like to talk a bit about the ability to enforce regulations. We know there are fewer conservation officers across Canada right now and these areas are open massively to these trappers. They can be hundreds of kilometres long.
Ensuring that the traps..., which are tested under the Agreement on International Humane Trapping Standards, a trade agreement, is virtually impossible in the field.
We would point out that trap check times range from 24 hours to a week in the case of some kill traps. We have heard of many cases and have documentation of animals being left in traps for days when these are supposed to be checked every 24 hours, and instances where endangered species, at risk species, and numerous companion animals such as cats and dogs are caught in these humane traps.
The vast majority of people using outdoor space are not trappers. The 2012 Canadian Nature Survey, which was created by provincial, territorial, and national governments, indicated that 89% of Canadians enjoy spending time outdoors. This list ranges from bird watching and photography to hunting and trapping.
It is estimated this industry of recreational outdoor use generates $41.3 billion and 5% of that is attributable to hunting, trapping, and angling. Of that 5%, 2%, or 0.1% of that total $41 billion, is attributable to trapping.
When the report discussed the individual categories of nature-based recreation, the report's authors added a note regarding trapping, that the small number of respondents who reported participating in trapping of wild animals was below the threshold for statistical reliability and was therefore not shown in the figure. Yet all the regulations in place protect trappers. They do not protect animals, companion animals, and other users.
In the past we have requested that provincial governments, trapping lobbies, trapping associations, and individual trappers consider putting up warning signs to the public, “traps in area”. We're not asking them to identify where each trap is, and we understand their concern with that. We simply ask for a warning sign. That is ignored and called ridiculous.
We ask for registration tags on traps, so in an instance where a trap is misused, conservation officers are able to quickly identify the person responsible and use appropriate follow-up methods. That too has been dismissed.
Meanwhile, when we visit trapping association blogs, websites, or forums, we see the three tenets of SSS. For those of you who don't know what that means, it's shoot, shovel, and shut up. That is what's discussed when a dog or an endangered species is caught in a trap, yet we are being told that the trapping industry is about environmental sustainability. I'm sorry, I do not see that. The facts of the matter do not show that.
We talk about the science of population control. The most recent study shows that coyotes reproduce at a higher rate when they're persecuted. Studies out of the western United States show wolves increase depredation on livestock when they are disrupted by trapping. Yet we are told this is the only way to control these populations.
There was an instance a year ago of a woman walking through the woods and coming across a coyote or coywolf—the DNA was never clear—that was stuck in a snare. Veterinarians and wildlife experts believed that coywolf had been there for at least four days, based on the amount of feces and injuries. He had lost his leg and was transported to a wildlife rehabilitation centre, where he was healed and released with tracking technology. The woman who released him after seeing him in clear pain and suffering was threatened by the local trapping association as well as the municipality for interfering with a legal trapline.
There was a case not 40 minutes from my home in Hamilton where an at-risk snapping turtle was killed within six feet of a public trail in a public park. There are cases of dogs being caught in Conibear traps that are four feet from public trails, and we are being told it's the dog owners' fault. That is just no longer acceptable.
As you were told by the gentleman from the North American Fur Auctions, there are trappers in probably every jurisdiction. I should also point out that there are 3.5 million dogs and 4.5 million cats in Canada. So I would ask you, when you consider the political ramifications of this, who are you telling to go away and be quiet?
We would very much welcome the opportunity to help in updating some of these regulations. We have municipalities in urban centres saying they don't like these traps, they don't consider them safe, and they see them as a public hazard. They're being told by governments, be they provincial or federal, that they don't have the authority to say no to traps. Vancouver, Toronto, Oakville, Guelph, and numerous other municipalities are looking at these options but are being told they're not allowed to say no to traps even though they represent a clear danger to their citizens.
In short, there is a lot more to this issue than the fur industry and the trapping industry discuss. There are significantly more people than trappers on these trails, in these woods, who are not being aptly protected. These regulations need to be updated to take a long, hard look at who's really using these trails and who is at risk, because it clearly is not trappers.
I'm happy to take any questions on these subjects.