Road work for oil & gas reclamation project destroys traplines in Fort Liard, N.W.T.

A trapper in Fort Liard, N.W.T., says his trapline has been severely disrupted this winter by road work for an oil and gas reclamation project in the area.

Trapper seeking compensation for snares lost

Ricky Edda is a full-time trapper living in Fort Liard, N.W.T. He told CBC his trapline was destroyed last weekend by road work for an ongoing oil & gas reclamation project. (Anna Desmarais/CBC )

A trapper in Fort Liard, N.W.T., says his trapline has been severely disrupted this winter by road work for an oil and gas reclamation project in the area.

Calgary-based Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. has begun work to decommission and close 13 old oil and gas sites, all located east of the Liard River. According to a reclamation plan on the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board's website, this involves rebuilding an existing winter road for access to the sites.

Fort Liard resident Ricky Edda lives and works full-time on his family's trapline, which intersects with parts of the winter road from where it starts on kilometre 72 of the Liard Highway.

Speaking to CBC on Wednesday (with his brother Leon interpreting), Edda said he had six traps and seven snares set by early December. Last weekend, he received a phone call while in town, telling him that a crew was going to plow the nearby winter-access road and he had to move his traps.

However, by the time Edda went back to retrieve the traps that same day, the road was already plowed. Everything was lost beneath the snow — leaving Edda without his equipment or a source of income.

Leon Edda said the discovery was distressing for his brother.

"It's close to Christmas and there's no jobs around … the price of food in the store is really high, and that's the only thing [Ricky] was going to rely on," he said of Ricky's trapline.

"Now, it's gone."

'No prior warning' about construction, trappers say

Ricky said he wasn't given any prior warning of construction plans for the access road; if he had been, he said he wouldn't have set up traps in the area.

Canadian Natural Resources did not respond to numerous requests for comment.

Scott Mackay, lands director for the Acho Dene Koe First Nation, said on Friday that Canadian Natural Resources has been engaging with the land office about its reclamation project since 2019. He said the lands office did have advance notice that road work would be happening, and there had been "some engagement" with the community on it through council.

Mackay also confirmed that Beaver Enterprises — a construction firm owned by the First Nation — had been contracted to do that work. 

Yet Ricky Edda isn't the only Fort Liard resident who says he was left in the dark about the construction.

Arthur Nande, another Fort Liard resident and long-time trapper, told CBC Dehcho Dene host Jimmy Hope on Monday that he's experienced disruptions on his trapline between Muskeg River and Trout Lake, too. He's already set 150 snares and traps this season.

In the interview, Nande said he was travelling home Saturday evening after checking his traps when he came across a Beaver Enterprise employee with a chainsaw and at least two pieces of heavy machinery. 

Nande said the crew member informed him that work was underway to clear brush and trees from the road, and asked him to go back and mark his traps in the area with orange reflector tape. However, Nande said he was unable to that evening, as the light on his snowmobile was broken and he needed to get home before dark. 

Nande said it was the first time he heard that construction was happening. He then expressed frustration over what he felt was a lack of consultation between the band and community members. 

Trapper seeking compensation

For his part, Edda is looking for compensation for the traps and income he's lost. His brother Leon said he had spoken with the ADKFN sub-chief about this shortly after the incident, but has not heard back since.

"He's sitting here, where he would have been … checking his traps and catching some animals for fur, but now he's just waiting here," Leon said. "He's losing out on a lot of things."

When asked about this request, Mackay told CBC that band administration was still gathering information about the incident and will "determine any other steps that are needed once we've got all the details in front of us."

He did not provide a timeline for when that would be.


Meaghan Brackenbury is a reporter with CBC in Yellowknife on Treaty 8 territory. You can reach her at