Trapping and Furtaking: A Misunderstood Sport

This weeks blog post was written by Zachary M., a Gobblers alumni! He writes about how trapping and fur taking is a sport that is often misunderstood. He also discusses the different types of traps, and the precautions put in place to ensure animals are not mistreated.

Zack M.

When some of the first Europeans arrived in the Americas, they were searching for resources to bring back to their home countries. One valuable and plentiful resource they found was fur. As time went on, the fur taking industry became a major part of the economy in both the early years of the United States and Canada. It remained important all the way up until about 1850. Increasing habitat loss and many years of unregulated harvesting resulted in furbearer and wildlife populations plummeting.

Coyotes are a furbearing species.

Among the first people to address the issue and take action were the sportsmen. Their efforts resulted in the same model we use for conservation today. These efforts were, and are still paid for by hunters, anglers and trappers. The new conservation programs resulted in the salvation of many furbearers and wildlife such as the American Beaver, River Otter, White-Tailed Deer, Black Bear, and many more. Not only did the trappers help fund the conservation movement, but their sport itself was also important to repopulating the depleted species, through trap/transfer programs and population estimates.

Today trapping generally is thought of as an inhumane, cruel sport that mutilates the animal that is captured. That generalization is completely false, modern-day fur taking is one of the most humane and ethical sports in the outdoor world today. Rules and regulations set by each state’s wildlife management agencies, ensure that no animal is mistreated.

There are two general categories of traps: live-hold and quick kill. Live-hold traps do just what they say, hold the animal alive (Leg Holds, Cable Restraints, Box Traps, Dog Proof Traps). These traps do not cause any damage to the animal, they only hold the animal until the trapper can make the decision whether they want to harvest the animal or release it unharmed. A major advantage to using them is that the trapper can be very selective in which animals he or she wants to take, and can always make a clean dispatch when they harvest an animal. Live-hold traps are extremely useful for population estimates, trapping around domestic animals, wildlife studies, and population control.

Quick kill traps do just what they say, they dispatch the animal on contact. This includes conibears, snares, and other body-gripping traps. Quick kill traps are designed and set to dispatch the animal when caught, so the animal is not alive in the trap for a period of time. They are ideal for Animal Damage Control and when trapping animals that cannot be held alive safely for long periods of time. The common mouse trap is considered a quick kill trap; trappers just use them on a larger scale. Quick kill traps are heavily regulated and are only set where there is no chance of catching a non-target animal.

Every year trappers, myself included, look forward to the fun and wisdom gained from setting a trap line. Personally, the time I get to spend outside and the furbearers I get to watch up close is enough to keep me setting year after year, but above all the wildlife benefits too.


Featured photo courtesy of Matt Knoth.  Original photo can be found by clicking here.