How much do you love your leghold traps? Are you willing to be arrested for them?

If you’re one of the many trappers who’s still using a leghold trap, don’t worry. The game wardens aren’t coming for you. At least not yet.

Trappers have eight years to switch over to a quick-kill trap for most small game under Canada’s 1997 Agreement on Human Trapping Standards.

Canada is expected to sign the agreement this summer. And then the eight-year count-down begins.

The penalty for using leghold traps will be decided in each province and territory.
Restraining traps will still be allowed for some game: wolves, coyotes, bobcat, lynx and fox. But the trap will have to tested to make sure it doesn’t cause excessive injury, explained Alison Beal, executive director of the Fur Institute of Canada.

Bear isn’t affected by the agreement. Still allowed will be snares, dead-falls and any traditional or “home-made” devices.

The Assembly of First Nations and Métis National Council are up in arms about the changes. They say Canada and Europe don’t have the right to force Native people to change their traps.

“Harvesting and trapping are guaranteed in the treaties. They cannot interfere with the way you hunt and trap,” said Alexandra McGregor, secretary to the AFN fur-harvesters’ committee.

McGregor said the government is violating Aboriginal rights. She noted that the Supreme Court recently ruled in the Sioui case that the government “can’t negotiate on our behalf.”

Trapper Bob Stevenson, a Cree from Northern Alberta, says Canada is causing real hardship to Natives if it doesn’t help fund trap replacement or trapper education.

It also gets under Stevenson’s skin that Indian Affairs isn’t helping Native trappers, but is handing several million dollars to a non-Native organization, the Fur Institute, to educate trappers.