Fur Conservation Area's
1946, under a federal-provincial agreement and regulations
under The Fur Act, a large portion of northern Saskatchewan
(the entire area north of the agricultural belt) was designated
a fur block for the purpose of managing and conserving
fur resources in the province. This initiative followed
a precipitous decline in the muskrat population between
1933 and 1938. The plan was to allow fur-bearing animal
populations to stabilize by restricting trapping privileges
to local (primarily Indian and Métis) residents
in the north. The governments were concerned to restore
the integrity of the fur industry, as it was the basis
of the Indians livelihood and subsistence economy.
fur block was divided into smaller community sections
known as Fur Conservation Areas (FCAs). Each community
was to elect a council of five members to be responsible
for adjusting boundaries between its sections and those
of other communities. The community sections could be
further divided into family, group, or individual trap
lines, depending on the circumstances.
this regime, each of the claimants had a designated FCA.
Initially, the claimants, FCAs were communally trapped,
and any community license-holder had the right to trap
anywhere in the FCA. As noted above, the community could
agree to divide FCAs into smaller sections to be allotted
to families, groups, or individuals, by agreement of the
community, and special licenses would then be issued.
Under the regulations, license holders from one FCA were
not permitted to trap in another FCA. Although this regulation
would prove to be unconstitutional, there is some evidence
that FCA boundaries were respected, in terms of trapping.
This FCA regime was in place when the air weapons range
was established in 1954. The Buffalo River First Nation
had been allocated FCA A-21, which extended southward
from the reserve. The southern edge of A-21 ran parallel
to the range border, approximately three miles into the
range. The Flying Dust and Waterhen Lake First Nations
shared FCA A-37, and approximately 325 square miles of
it fell inside the boundary of the range, in the southeast
corner. The Joseph Bighead First Nation used FCA B-38,
which was entirely outside the range, to the south.