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Article: Fur Conservation Area's

In 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.

The 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.

Under 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.