For the first time in several years, B.C.'s Ministry of Forests is taking bids for the right to trap on land near the Sunshine Coast and Squamish, about 60 kilometres north of Vancouver.

One trapline traverses the Mamquam River and parts of Pinecone Burke Provincial Park, east of Squamish. The other is on the north side of Howe Sound and includes parts of Tetrahedron Provincial Park.

Neither of the areas has been trapped for a significant while, and it remains unclear what potential trappers might bid to secure the traplines. But interest in trapping has been rising across Canada, as a result of a rising demand for furs, internationally.

"This is the first auction in many years in the South Coast and, as a result, it is unknown what to expect as far as the price ranges are concerned. An individual can bid as low as $500.00 (minimum bid) or as high as he/she feels is necessary to secure a trapline," says the notice posted on the B.C. Bid website.

50 pelts per year required

Traplines give owners the right to catch and manage fur-bearing animals on a given piece of Crown land. B.C. has hundreds, but most change hands only through private sales.

And if trappers don't harvest 50 pelts or $200 worth of fur each year, the government can take the trapline away.

Fur pelts

More people are trapping wild animals across Canada these days, in part because prices for wild fur including muskrat, fox and coyote are up. (CBC)

Veteran trapper Allan Starkey says that hasn't happened enough, which makes it tough for new people to get into trapping, and also lets pests like beavers and coyotes get out of control.

Starkey says for years trappers have been asking the government to free up traplines that are never used.                  

"The government should have those lines up for sale every year, until there are no more available," he says.

Aspiring trapper Tristan Galbraith, who runs a pest control company in Whistler, says trapping may not be part of B.C.'s high-tech economy, but it could still be a good living.

"You might not make millions of dollars like if you're working for Google or something, but it is recession-proof and it's been around a hell of a lot longer," says Galbraith.

The ministry says it's currently reviewing vacant and underutilized lines.

Anyone running a trapline in B.C. must complete a special course and have a trapping licence.


With files from CBC's Jason Proctor