18.4 Trends in trapping

Last Updated: 
September 11, 2015

This indicator tracks the number of people participating in trapping each year.

Trapping participation is influenced by a variety of factors including: fur prices; unemployment levels in communities; the cost of trapping equipment, fuel and supplies; and, other employment opportunities. Active trappers are defined as those who sell their furs through participation in the Mackenzie Valley Fur Program. Other individuals may trap fur for their own use but this activity is not included in this indicator.

Information is obtained from the Fur Database and from the Mackenzie Valley Fur Program.

NWT Focus

The existence of furbearer populations and large natural areas provides the necessary natural resources for trappers to continue this traditional lifestyle in the NWT. Traditional trapping areas continue to be handed down through families in many communities.

Trapping is now rarely a full-time occupation for most people who participate. For most people trapping provides a second, or in some cases third, source of household income. Trapping is dependent upon people having the resources necessary for the activity. Many trappers rely on their primary or secondary sources of income to provide the means to go trapping. Trapping is part of the annual cycle of activities that generate food and income needed to sustain this lifestyle.

Current view: status and trend

The number of people trapping in the NWT has decreased since the early 1980s but leveled to more stable numbers in the past decade1.

Number of trappers in the NWT

Total number of active trappers in the NWT (1957-2014) and proportion in each ecozone1.

Number of trappers per ecozone

Trapping mostly occurs in the Taiga Plains. The proportion of active trappers in all ecozones of the NWT has remained relatively similar over the past decade. Differences in relative numbers of trappers in each ecozone result from differences in the number of people and communities in each ecozone, the prevalence of traditional lifestyles, alternative wage opportunities and available species. 

Looking around

According to the Canadian Nature Survey2, less than one percent of adult Canadians go trapping at least once during a year (study year 2012).

Looking forward

The GNWT operates a number of programs, including Trapper Training and Take a Kid Trapping. to support continued participation in traditional livelihoods - the benefits of which are often measured in non-economic values.

Find more


Found an error or have a question? Contact the team at NWTSOER@gov.nt.ca.


Ref. 1 - ITI GNWT. 2015. GNWT Fur Harvest Database.

Ref. 2 - Federal, Provincial, and Territorial Governments of Canada. 2014. The 2012 Canadian Nature Survey: Awareness, participation, and expenditures in nature-based recreation, conservation, and subsistence activities. Ottawa, ON: Canadian Councils of Resource Ministers.