UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The British Columbia trapping industry and public administrative policy Newby, Nancy Jill


This is an investigation of the British Columbia trapping industry and associated markets. A major part of the study is devoted to familiarizing the reader with the present industry. The product, trapline tenure, trappers, fur traders, earnings from trapping, marketing of the product, and administrative arrangements are described. Many problems are associated with the industry today — low incomes; raw fur prices which are declining, uncertain, and unstable; widespread ignorance of proper trapping techniques, pelt handling methods, and marketing opportunities; factor immobility; and lack of organization and contact among trappers. At the local level, there is little competition among fur buyers. Either there is only one trader in an area, or if there is more than one, they often collude. In some areas, market imperfections such as ignorance of outside markets and lack of access to capital, provide an opportunity for fur buyers to exploit the primary producers. Public administrative policies are analyzed in terms of their economic consequences, and their ability to handle the problems of trappers. Present policies lack clearly defined goals, are outdated, fail to consider the socioeconomic needs of trappers, and provide few incentives for efficiency in resource use and development. Management devices succeed in conserving the resource (once the most basic problem), but today with raw fur prices low in comparison to a decade ago, they systematically lead to an underutilization of the resource. In the absence of any organized competition for traplines, there is little assurance that the rights are possessed by the most efficient producers. The primary method of raising revenue, the collection of royalty, negates the efficiency of the management system by encouraging economizing on the harvest and failure to report all animals trapped. Traders' fees ration buying rights on the basis of differential fees. Industry structure has been stagnated by measures that prevent flexibility in the scale of trapping operations. Management lacks adequate information for informed policymaking. And non-enforcement of regulations and lack of control over Indian trapping further decreases the effectiveness of the management system. Moreover, there is no effective organization for rationalizing conflicting land-use problems. As a way of overcoming these problems and leading to a more efficient development of the fur resource, the following recommendations are made: (i) full negotiability of trapline boundaries, (ii) disposition of trapline rights through public auction, (iii) simplification but expansion of present trappers' return form to include more information, (iv) extension of licensing and questionnaire requirements to all trappers, regardless of ethnic origin, (v) enforcement of regulations, (vi) abandonment of royalties, (vii) reduction of fur-traders' fee to one nominal amount, (viii) expansion of trapper education programs, (ix) encouragement of the growth of trapping organizations, and (x) special recommendations for Indians. Data and information on which this thesis is based were obtained from: (i) the provincial Fish and Wildlife Branch and the Dominion Bureau of Statistics, (ii) personal correspondence and interviews with trappers, fur buyers, provincial fur administrators, and Indian Affairs Branch authorities, (iv) mailed questionnaires to fur traders, (v) trappers' manuals, (vi) "A Report on the B.C. Fur Resources Study" (unpublished manuscript), and (vii) fur industry studies for other provinces. A sample of income for trapping in British Columbia was derived through the use of simple mathematics, provincial average fur value statistics, and the trappers' returns.

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