Trappers in Eastern Ontario tried to change the law to prevent dogs being killed in traps in their part of the province, but were shot down by their own provincial federation and denied by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.

Body-gripping Conibear-style traps, like the ones that killed two dogs in Grey-Bruce recently, should have to be raised off the ground or some other trap used, they said.

Darcy Alkerton was behind an attempt to seek a change in the law. He’s from Spencerville, east of Kingston, and was on the executive of the Grenville and Area Fur Harvesters Council. He’s been trapping for 42 years.

The initial proposal was withdrawn in 2012 but a modified version introduced about 2014, deemed more acceptable, Alkerton said, asked for a mandatory raising of traps off the ground so dogs would be unlikely to get caught, or use of modified, baited box traps or dog-proof snares on the ground. That time there was support from other trapping councils, he said.

There are too many incidents of dogs being caught in killing traps — particularly among hunters who employ hunting dogs, but also of other dogs, Alkerton said. Some of them ended up caught in his own trap lines until he evolved his methods.

The now amalgamated Leeds and Grenville Fur Harvesters Council’s membership includes trappers and hunters who use hounds, which is not as common elsewhere in the province. Their hunting dogs are particularly vulnerable to trappers who choose not to take safety measures.

A lkerton believes the effort to impose stricter trapping rules failed because most trappers don’t use dogs and “because the majority of trappers don’t agree with more regulation.”

Though they would only apply to the Grenville trapping council area, the dog-safety proposals received no support from the Ontario Fur Managers nor from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, Alkerton said.

“The ministry didn’t want to have more rules for such a small area,” Alkerton said. “But it’s not a small area.”

A ministry spokesperson said there was lack of support among fur councils for the 2012 motion, which was rescinded, and offered no comment on the fur harvesters’ second attempt at changing the law.

“The ministry has generally used non-regulatory approaches to find solutions that reduce conflict, including encouraging all users to respect and share Ontario’s natural spaces,” Maimoona Dinani said by email.

By Scott Dunn

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