What’s Right About Trapping
August 24, 2012
C.J. Williams over at Trapping Supplies Review has written a great essay on his thoughts about trapping. If you haven’t visited his site, you should check it out (www.trappingsupplies.blogspot.com). C.J. is passionate about trapping and is an excellent writer. I really don’t think I could have done a better job explaining some of the great things about trapping, so with C.J.’s permission, I have reposted his essay below.
I have been a trapper for many years and along the way I have learned quite a bit about this sport. It is among the most challenging and rewarding of all outdoor sports, and an important tool of wildlife conservation. I’d like to outline some of the basic reasons why trapping is important and how it is often misunderstood.
First, trapping is often misunderstood and misrepresented. Animal rights activist have targeted this sport for its supposed cruelty, and many folks who have no experience with trapping seem to have false notions of it. People envision suffering animals caught in steel-toothed traps and dying a slow death. Really, this is a grave misconception. Animals caught in foothold traps (the proper term) rarely suffer any damage or pain and can be released unharmed if the trapper so desires. I know; I have done this many times. In fact I have arrived at a number of trap sets only to find an animal sleeping, clearly not in any pain. I’m embarrassed to say that I have caught my fingers many times in foothold traps. My pride was hurt, but my fingers were fine. The idea that trapping is cruel and painful to animals is the biggest misconception surrounding this sport.
The second misconception is that trapping is unnecessary. Furbearer populations need to be kept in check for many reasons, most of all to ensure a healthy population. Overpopulation of species like raccoons and foxes invariably leads to the spread of ravaging diseases like mange, distemper and rabies. I believe we have a responsibility as stewards of our environment to manage the population of furbearers in order to keep them healthy, maintain their population levels to suit the available habitat, and to avoid human-animal conflict as much as possible. This is basic, responsible conservation.
Fur is an important commodity in the clothing industry, especially in Eastern Europe, Russia and China, where winters are bitter cold and fur is still culturally acceptable. Furtakers in the U.S. typically sell their pelts to auction houses who in turn sell them to garment makers overseas. While fur garments are less popular in the U.S., other people groups consider them a necessity, and I don’t believe that we should be judgmental toward the customs and clothing of other cultures. Still, consider how much we also depend on animal products for our garments and accessories in the U.S. I once talked to a woman who angrily told me how cruel and unnecessary it was to use animal products for clothing purposes while all the while she had a leather purse slung over her shoulder. I just smiled. In her mind, leather products just came from the department store, and she clearly gave no thought to the matter beyond that.Trapping is a sport with a magnificent heritage. The West was explored and settled by the great “Mountain Men” of the early 19th century, and it was trapping that lead them to discover and cultivate those uncharted lands. Even today, trapping is one of the most challenging of all outdoor sports. A trapper must be an excellent woodsman, know how to scout for animal signs, read their habitats, and interpret patterns of animal movement and behavior, all to guide him to the precise location where the animal will step! Trapping is the greatest challenge for any sportsman, especially going after a wary species like the coyote.That brings me to trappers themselves. It’s a small but dedicated group, and I mean dedicated. You will rarely find a half-hearted trapper. Many of them enjoy the sport to the fullest. I have attended several state and national trappers conventions and I am impressed at how kind, friendly and down to earth trappers are. They are family-oriented, working class people who are always ready to help, love to chat, and keep friends for life. I’m proud to be part of this group, and I’m not ashamed of our sport or our way of life. Some folks may not like trapping for whatever reason, and some may not really understand it, but I’m thankful that this long-established sport still has a place in the American landscape.