Why It Matters: Trapping is unique in that it can be used for predator and furbearer management, harvest, to maintain healthy ecosystems, manage invasive species, and can also be used to capture live wildlife for research and management purposes. Restraining traps have been particularly critical in conservation efforts by allowing state agencies to capture and re-locate endangered species. The regulations developed by state agencies for trapping and the various methods involved are some of the most extensive and complex pertaining to wildlife harvest. Common trap designs have been field tested on their target species and must adhere to the approved humane standards for that species.
- Although not as many sportsmen and women participate in trapping as do hunting or angling, it holds a distinct place in both our past and present outdoor sporting traditions and remains an essential wildlife management tool.
- Attempts to restrict or ban trapping altogether are once again prevalent in the Northeast this year, either through fur bans or outright bans.
- Recently, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) has actively engaged in opposition to efforts to restrict trapping in Rhode Island and Vermont and anticipates similar battles in other northeastern states in the months ahead.
In the past, trapping was a common practice and relied on by many as a source of sustenance. Although trapping is not as popular nowadays, it still holds an important role in our outdoor sporting traditions and is the preferred method of many outdoorsmen enthusiasts. Every year, there are attempts to limit or prohibit trapping, on the grounds that it is unethical or inhumane. However, this is far from accurate as the United States is among the 19 countries that have agreed to adhere to the trapping criteria established by the International Organization for Standardization. These guidelines were created by teams of biologists, trappers, animal welfare representatives, state fish and wildlife agencies, and the general public to ensure the use of effective, selective, and humane trapping technology.
Last month, H.B. 5258 was introduced in Rhode Island targeting “fur-farms”. However, through the prohibition of the sale or trade of fur products, it would create penalties for law-abiding trappers who aim to maximize the use of a harvested animal. Limiting the sale, trade, or distribution of fur products would ultimately serve to undermine regulated trapping.
In Vermont, H.B. 191 would restrict trapping to landowners or their agents in instances where an animal is attacking, worrying, or wounding domestic animals, destroying property, or damaging cropland, effectively banning most regulated trapping as it is currently practiced. This will increase the burden on state agencies, like the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department, to manage wildlife populations, requiring additional resources, funding, and personnel.
Furthermore, trapping is an invaluable conservation tool in wildlife damage management programs that target invasive species responsible for significant habitat degradation and ecosystem health threats. Proper regulation and monitoring of traps reduce the potential for unintended captures and restore ecosystems to a better condition that is capable of supporting thriving, healthy, and sustainable populations of native wildlife. CSF submitted a letter of opposition on H.B. 5258 and will soon be submitting an additional opposition letter to H.B. 191, while working closely with both respective states’ Sportsmen’s Caucuses to oppose these bills.