Saskatoon

Saskatchewan trappers association defends beaver-hunting derby

The Saskatchewan Trappers Association is defending a controversial beaver-hunting derby currently going on in the province.

Association says derby stops bad hunting practices, wasting animal

A Saskatchewan beaver derby is being criticized by an animal rights group. (CBC)

The Saskatchewan Trappers Association is defending a controversial beaver-hunting derby currently going on in the province.

The derby, which pays cash prizes for hunters and trappers that bring in beaver carcasses, has come under fire from a national animal rights organization. The Association for the Protection of Fur–Bearing Animals calls the derby "ecologically harmful and ethically devoid."

However, the trappers association believes the derby is a significant improvement from the current system, which asks hunters to only bring in the beaver's tail.

"I've seen a number of beavers left in the field to rot," said the association's vice-president Ken Gartner. "We don't want to see that happen anymore."

Gartner said all of the parts of the beaver will be used--from the pelts to scent glands to the carcass.

"The carcass is used to feed animals and is also used to make lures," said Gartner. "And it's also used as bait and for hunting purposes."

However, animal rights groups believe that hunting beavers isn't the answer. While many farmers are angry at the animals for flooding fields, the 'pro-beaver' groups believe building water control devices around culverts and beaver dams is a much cheaper and animal friendly way around the problem.

"Until you address the reasons for the flooding and reasons why the beavers are going to be there, you're going to continue to have beavers in that area," said the Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals' Adrian Nelson. "And when it comes down to a derby, we're not even talking about problem animals now. We're talking about any animal that happens to be a beaver."

However, the trappers remain unconvinced by those arguments.

"I know that they have a legitimate grievance for opposing what we're doing, but I feel that some of their opinions and comments really have no merit," said Gartner. 

The derby will run until May 10.

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