Thank you very much.
My name is Nancy Daigneault. I'm a vice-president of the International Fur Federation with a responsibility for North and South America. I'd like to thank the chair and the committee for inviting me to testify today.
I will speak to you about the sustainable use of Canada's natural resources, trapping, and how it is an important element in environmental conservation. First I'd like to tell you a little bit about the International Fur Federation, the IFF for short.
The IFF has 49 member organizations that are trade or fur-farming associations. They come from 38 different countries from around the world. We're a diverse organization representing the interests of all sectors of the trade and we advocate with them at the local and international levels.
It's important to note that the IFF believes in sustainability, transparency, and accountability. We therefore ensure that all IFF members subscribe to our code of practice, which mandates that they respect and work on the relevant rules in their country for animal welfare, environmental standards, employment laws, corruption laws, international conventions, and treaties. We strongly believe in these principles and use them to guide us as we undertake various issues in different countries.
The IFF dedicates a sizeable amount of our yearly budget to the fur industry in Canada. This year, for example, we've allocated almost $400,000 to Canadian fur issues. This includes money to the Fur Institute of Canada for trap research, sustainable use, and sealing issues. We also commit a sizeable amount to agricultural issues and the fashion end of the trade spectrum. The IFF is proud to support the Canadian fur industry.
I want to outline for you today why trapping is so important in Canada and how it underpins the health of our environmental efforts. I'll outline for you how trapping is well regulated in Canada, why trapping helps to control diseases dangerous to people, how trappers help with the introduction of species that have been eliminated from various jurisdictions, and how Canada has become a real leader in international trap research. Finally, I will outline for you the dangers of not continuing on our progressive path of environmental conservation.
To begin, trapping is well regulated in Canada. Our trappers are educated, accountable, and knowledgeable about their work. All provinces regulate trapping. All trappers must pass a trapper's education course. They must be licensed. Most provinces have registered traplines along which trapping is permitted, and there are also open and closed seasons. The provinces further mandate when, where, and how to trap, and they carefully monitor the harvests every year. To become effective, the trapper has to learn about animal behaviour, wildlife habitats, types of traps, trap preparation, sets and lures for different animals, and of course the care of pelts.
Trappers are key to wildlife management through government-imposed quotas. There are minimum and maximum quotas, depending on the species and the year. In Ontario, for example, the province has mandated that trappers must have a minimum harvest for beavers—these are the trappers with registered traplines. Some beavers have become overabundant in some areas.
Using Ontario as an example again, an end-of-season and harvest report is mandatory. The trapper must turn in the report to the Ontario Fur Managers Federation, which in turn feeds it to government authorities. This allows wildlife biologists to closely monitor harvest rates while collecting data on population trends.
Trappers also serve as the ears and eyes of the land. They're among the first to sound the alarm if the environmental balance is upset by pollution, habitat destruction, or diseases such as rabies and distemper. Diseased animals must be reported to the appropriate ministry right away.
A good example of this is that back in the year 2000 in New Brunswick, trappers helped to control rabies, which had become a serious concern in coyotes, foxes, raccoons, and skunks. They live-trapped, vaccinated, and ear-tagged more than 500 animals. The program successfully reduced the amount of rabies in that particular area.
When biologists need more information, regulations can be tweaked and adjusted to require that trappers turn the carcasses or certain parts of the harvested animals in. This allows them to examine such things as reproductive rates, food habits, and sex and age ratios. All of this monitoring ensures that biologists maintain accurate records of wildlife populations and health.
Trapping is also a critical and vital tool for endangered species management and for the reintroduction of some species to original habitat. Alberta trappers, for example, were key to helping reintroduce wolves to Idaho. Back in 1996, 66 wolves were live-trapped in Alberta and released in Idaho. By the year 2005, the wolf population in that state had grown to 565, and last year the population was at a healthy 770. This is another excellent example of how trappers support the environment.
The methods by which Canada traps are internationally recognized, and Canada's trap testing facility in Vegreville, Alberta is considered a state-of-the-art facility, which conducts research on traps and trapping methods to ensure that fur-bearers are trapped humanely. The research centre was set up and is a part of Canada's commitment to the Agreement on International Humane Trapping Standards, a trilateral agreement between Canada, Russia, and the European Union. Canada can stand tall and proud. It is in full compliance with this agreement, and trap testing has served the fur trade well in ensuring that our harvests are regulated, humane, and within standards adopted by the international community.
The international standardization organization's testing methodology was used as a criterion in setting up the trap standards. Over the years, the IFF has contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to this trap testing facility, as we believe it is in our interest to ensure that fur-bearers used in the trade are harvested humanely. The Fur Institute of Canada publishes its list of approved traps on its website and updates it regularly as traps are tested to meet the standard. Over 600 trap designs have been evaluated for 15 species. The Fur Institute's trap research program is internationally recognized and puts Canada on the map for its progressive approach to environmental sustainability.
I would like to use this opportunity to draw your attention to some jurisdictions that simply do not share Canada's progressive views with regard to conservation and sustainable use. It's a shame that in some countries in the world, they simply trap animals and throw them away rather than viewing them as a natural resource that can be conserved wisely and used in a responsible manner. Most EU member countries permit trapping for nuisance control only, and the animals are then thrown away and not used. While this is a necessity, it is a shame that open and closed seasons are not permitted for trapping in order to use the resources wisely and responsibly.
Nuisance animal control is a growth industry in some areas, as development encroaches on wildlife habitat. This trend is of concern to biologists and wildlife managers, because it indicates that some people are viewing wildlife as problems that should be removed and destroyed rather than as resources that could be used, consumed, and conserved. The meat, fur, and byproducts of many fur-bearers can be used for so many different things. With the beaver, for example, the pelt is used in the fur trade; the beaver tail is used to make wallets; the scent glands are used in the perfume industry; the meat can be eaten; and the oil is used in the cosmetics industry. Muskrat meat can be eaten, as can racoon. There is also a market to use meat as bait, lures, and for other trapping purposes.
Finally, I would like to note that the animal rights agenda is a bit of a concern to the industry, and should be, when it comes to environmental conservation. Some activists are being blinded by ideology with no regard for the sound application of science, which can be a recipe for poor public policy development.
As outlined in my presentation, trapping is about environmental conservation, disease management, and more. It also supports those who truly live off the land in rural communities. Wildlife biologists and conservation authorities have spent decades studying and carefully regulating trapping in Canada, and this is the proper approach to further enhancing Canada as a leader in wildlife management and sustainable development.
In summary, I would like to recap. Trapping is about more than simply the fur trade. Trappers are committed to sustainability. They carefully monitor wildlife populations and disease. Modern-day trapping is about working closely with wildlife biologists, conservation authorities, and others to maintain ecological diversity. Trappers believe in accountability and sustainability.
I would like to thank the committee today and urge you to continue this work investigating the important role that trapping plays in the environment. Thank you.