Trapping and harvesting

Why is trapping and harvesting important?

Trapping and harvesting has been important to Indigenous people in the Northwest Territories (NWT) for thousands of years. It remains an important part of the NWT economy today. NWT wild fur is considered some of the best in the world, and is proudly marketed under the Genuine Mackenzie Valley Fur (GMVF) Program.

Where can I trap?

People with an Aboriginal or treaty right to harvest in a particular area of the NWT no longer need a licence to trap. Trappers must show a Renewable Resource Officer identification proving their right to harvest in that area, when requested.

Settled land claim agreements in the NWT include an exclusive right for beneficiaries to harvest furbearers in certain areas. Licensed non-beneficiary trappers are not allowed to harvest some species without permission from the land claim organization.

Registered trapping areas or registered group trapping areas can be found in some areas of the NWT. These areas permit exclusive rights to individuals or groups of people to trap in a specific area.

Contact your local or regional Environment and Climate Change (ECC) office for more information about registered trapping areas.

How is trapping and harvesting regulated?

Trapping and harvesting in the NWT is regulated by ECC, Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT). All residents need a licence to trap, available from your local or regional office. Requirements for trapping licences can be found in the NWT Trapping Regulations.

Are there any restrictions?

Land claim agreements in the NWT provide beneficiaries, participants or citizens with an exclusive right to harvest certain furbearers.

Licensed trappers cannot harvest the following species in the land claim areas without permission from the relevant land claim organization:

  • Ground squirrel, red squirrel, marmot and hare in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region
  • Ground squirrel, red squirrel and marmot in the Gwich’in Settlement Area
  • Red squirrel and marmot in the Sahtu Settlement Area
  • Woodchuck and red squirrel on Tłı̨chǫ lands.

What is considered wastage?

Wastage provisions of the Wildlife Act apply to all harvesters and trappers. No person can waste, destroy, abandon or allow to spoil a raw pelt or hide of the following furbearers:

  • Bear*
  • Beaver*
  • Coyote
  • Ermine (stoat)
  • Fisher
  • Fox
  • Least Weasel
  • Lynx
  • Marten
  • Mink
  • Muskrat*
  • Otter
  • Skunk
  • Wolf
  • Wolverine

* The raw pelts or hides of bear, beaver or muskrat can be discarded if any of these furbearers are harvested for the meat.

Harvesting with a General Hunting Licence or Special Harvester Licence

If you hold a General Hunting Licence (GHL), you can harvest wildlife in areas outside your traditional use areas in the NWT under certain conditions, and subject to land claim agreements. Trappers with a GHL are bound to the seasons and conditions in the NWT Trapping Regulations when trapping outside of their Aboriginal or treaty rights traditional use area.

The seasons outlined in the Trapping Regulations generally follow prime fur seasons. A Special Harvester Licence can also allow a person to trap furbearers.

The licence holder is bound to the conditions recommended by the local harvesting committee, local band council or Métis council, who recommended approval of the licence.

Programs and support

The GNWT offers several programs to support NWT trappers and harvesters. These include:

For more information, contact ECC's On the Land Unit by email or call toll-free: 1-866-611-FURS (3877).

Regional Trapper Training Workshops

ECC hosts annual regional workshops for trappers. These workshops provide information on:

  • Humane trapping - setting certified traps and snares
  • Effective pelt handling - skinning and preparing pelts for auction
  • Fur Harvesters Auction - pelt grading
  • Other region or species-specific information

For more information or to sign up for workshops, contact your local or regional ECC Office or Renewable Resource Officer.  

More information