Hundreds of people attended the B.C. Trapper’s Association Convention’s open house Saturday, raising the profile of the association’s conservation work and injecting cash into the economy.
Organizer Kent Maitland said he received only positive feedback from the public who attended the event, the first for the association in 75 years. Maitland said 170 trappers attended the four-day convention at the South Cariboo Rec Centre, while he estimated another 100 people came out for the open house.
Attended also included Katrine Conroy, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, and MLA Lorne Doerkson.
“We had zero negative feedback, which was a pleasant surprise to be sure,” Maitland said. “Even the people who came in unsure about what this was all about left with a positive attitude. They came out with the understanding we spend a lot of time doing conservation and trying to make sure wildlife is there for the future.”
The event featured several booths to raise awareness of proper trapping practices and efforts to help red-listed species like the fisher. One of the booths highlighted the importance of controlling the local wolf population, while skinning demonstrations were conducted on a fox, marten and a coyote.
108 Mile Ranch biologist Larry Davis, of Davis Environmental Ltd., showed off his fisher den box, an insulated wooded box that can be hung from trees to provide habitat for the red-listed fishers.
The fishers are considered endangered in the central Interior and of special concern in northeastern B.C., mainly because of deforestation, as they need large areas to live. The booth also featured fisher exclusion boxes – described as an elongated marten cubby fitted with a faceplate that is sized to prevent fishers from getting in and becoming bycatch.
“Trappers are one of the groups that helped found Canada and we’re not going anywhere. We’re going to continue to make noise to have some conservation done in our forests,” Maitland said.
Although the convention was to raise awareness, it was also an economic driver for the 100 Mile House community, said District of 100 Mile House Coun. Maureen Pinkney, who manages the District’s economic development portfolio.
She estimated the convention injected $300,000 into the local economy over the weekend. About 20 per cent of that total came from the organizers in rental fees and other costs related to holding the event. The remaining 80 per cent came from attendees buying food, renting hotel rooms and visiting local businesses.
“So many people drive through 100 Mile House, obviously, but you don’t know if they’re ever stopping. These events allow visitors time to walk around and check things out,” Pinkney said. “Every one of these events we can host is another opportunity for someone to come back.”
The event also provided a profile for local community groups, she said. The 100 Mile House Wranglers’ provided a burger BBQ fundraiser for the open house, while the South Cariboo Search and Rescue Society demonstrated a water rescue in the 100 Mile Marsh.
SCSAR search manager Val Severin said the marsh was the perfect place to practice and show the public what they do.
“This way the public is aware of what our services are capable of and gains an appreciation for the volunteers that do this on a weekly basis, just not in the public eye,” Severin said.
Jackson Lipsett, 11, had fun visiting the convention with his family, buying first pelt, a blue fox, for $200. As he only had $60, his mom had to spot him the rest, which he will pay back over time.
“I just can’t wait to go out, buy traps and help my dad with his hunting and trapping.”