With cougar and bear populations expanding into southern Saskatchewan, trapping seasons have been set for this fall.

The cougar season runs October 15 to March 15. Hunting free-range cougars is prohibited, as it's trapping only with reporting mandatory for all cougars harvested so that the ministry can determine the impat of the new harvest on the long-term sustainability of the species.

“Both cougar and bear populations have been expanding into the southern portion of Saskatchewan,” said Scott Moe, the provincial minister of the environment.  “Establishing additional trapping seasons will better manage these growing populations and help reduce human and livestock encounters for both species.”

With incidental captures of cougars by Saskatchewan trappers increasing, a press release from the provincial government said the formalizinga season will encourage more trapping in cougar areas and let trappers retain and sell their catch. Only allowing traps or snares should help ensure an annual harvest is maintained without a conservation threat to cougars.

The release also said a black bear opportunity is being offered for southern fur conservation licence (SFCA) holders.  Black bears may be trapped in wildlife-management zones open to bear hunting (WMZs 30, 34 to 50, 52 to 55 and 68).

The season runs September 10 to May 31 of 2018.  This is a trapping (leg snare) season only and hunting free-ranging bears will not be allowed under a SFCA fur licence.

“We have been lobbying for a bear-trapping season in southern Saskatchewan for several years,” Saskatchewan Trappers Association President Mike Keen said.  “The Saskatchewan Trappers Association fully supports the new fur seasons for both black bear and cougar, which will help to curb increasing populations and improve public safety, while providing additional harvesting opportunities for trappers.”

Moe said allowing bear trapping in the listed zones should allow an additional harvest opportunity Moe said.

“Trapping is viewed as an appropriate way to harvest bear in southern Saskatchewan," he said. "And it will provide additional revenue for south Saskatchewan trappers.”

The bear trapping season in the northern fur conservation area (NFCA) has been extended.  Outside of provincial parks or recreation sites, the trapping season runs until June 30.

Black bears are found in areas containing suitable habitats across the southern portion of the province, and are increasingly involved in public safety or livestock predation incidents.

Fur licences for the SFCA are $40, and $20 for the NFCA.

Saskatchewan’s 2017 Hunters’ and Trappers’ Guide will be available in July at www.saskatchewan.ca/hunting.

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