THUNDER BAY — The organization representing the province's fur trappers has launched a public relations campaign.
The Ontario Fur Managers Federation has purchased billboard space across the province, including one on the corner of Memorial Avenue and Harbour Expressway in Thunder Bay, with the message that "trappers work to maintain healthy wildlife populations."
Katie Ball is a trapper from Thunder Bay who also runs Silver Cedar Studio, where she designs and makes fur garments.
Ball says she believes in explaining to non-trappers why the work of trappers is important.
"I have found that by talking to the public, educating individuals on our regulations, and standing behind our ethical practices, most get a bigger picture and realize that we are not out to destroy animal populations with archaic trapping methods," Ball said.
"We are out helping maintain a healthy balance in nature."
In addition to being a director of the OFMF, Ball represents the Northwestern Fur Trappers Association, the Northwestern Ontario Sportsmen's Alliance, and Fur Harvesters Auction.
According to the OFMF, it works with Ontario's 9,000 Indigenous and non-Indigenous licence holders to conserve and maintain wildlife populations for the present and for the future.
"Unfortunately, animal rights activists continue to intentionally spread misinformation about this traditional Canadian industry," it said in a statement.
Third-generation trapper Lauren Tonelli has just taken over as the new general manager of OFMF.
Tonelli, who's from Iron Bridge, holds a Bachelor of Science in biology and has worked in the environmental/wildlife management field for almost a decade.
"I am a passionate angler, hunter and trapper," she said. "I want to ensure that the opportunities and experiences I have had are available for generations to come."
Tonelli said teaching the public to understand and appreciate the importance of trappers will go a long way "to securing the traditions of trapping for all current and future trappers" across the province.
All trappers are required to adhere to Ontario's fur management regulations.