A Furry Piece of History

Canada has a rich history when it comes to the fur trade, dating back to 1530. The well known and still existent, Hudson’s Bay Company was founded in 1670 when a charter was approved, allowing the Native Americans to trade furs with the English. These furs were then shipped back to London and sold mostly at public auctions, much like it is done today.

Trapping for furs is a legal and profitable business in Alberta. Many Albertans are registered trappers and have the right to trap animals on a specified section of land. Alberta has 17 furbearers: lynx, otter, bobcat, marten, fisher, mink, badger, ermine, skunk, wolverine, beaver, muskrat, wolf, coyote, red fox, red squirrel and raccoon. The amount of harvested animals is recorded and submitted for environmental statistics, and to ensure the proper management of the species.

Wolf skins can sell for between $100 and $400.
Wolf skins can sell for between $100 and $400.

Trappers set and bait a variety of traps, suited to the furbearer they want to harvest. The traps must be the correct size in relation to the animal, and also must execute the animal quickly. Many trappers have cabins or trap on their own property, so they can monitor their traps closely.

Once an animal is caught, it is skillfully skinned, as to not damage the fur. The trapper brings the furs to a fur depot, where they are shipped in bulk to auction houses. Many countries participate in these auctions, and Albertan furs are sold and shipped all over the world. The trapper is then reimbursed for his furs after the auction is complete.

Marten skins sell for $150, and are used to trim garments. They have multicolored furs.
Marten skins sell for $150, and are used to trim garments. They have multicolored furs.

Furs are used for hats, coats, gloves, trimming boots and many other specialty items. Alberta is fortunate to have an abundance of furbearers that are desired internationally. The fur trade continues to be a special part of Albertan and Canadian history, and that tradition is carried on everyday by local trappers.

Trapping near a water source is usually profitable.

“We see an Alberta where the harvesting of wild furbearers is an ongoing, respected management activity that helps to ensure the continuation of this part of Alberta’s heritage, culture, and identity.” – Alberta Trappers Association

For more information on trapping laws and information, see www.albertatrappers.com.

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