Falling Into the Same Old Traps: The Unsung Hero that is Furbearer Trapping

Contact: Kent Keene, Assistant Manager, Lower Midwestern States and Agriculture Policy

  • Trapping represents one of the most effective means of harvest for some of America’s most elusive, and historically valuable, game and furbearer species.
  • Like hunting, well-regulated and legal trapping provides sportsmen and sportswomen an opportunity to assist with wildlife management efforts while gaining a more intimate knowledge of the natural world around us.
  • With trapping seasons open throughout much of the Midwest, now is a great time to work with an experienced trapper to learn more about the activities that helped build the American economy and continue to support the American System of Conservation Funding while helping manage wildlife that are not easily hunted.

Why It Matters: Often the target of misinformation designed to undermine our time-honored outdoor traditions, trapping represents one of the most widely supported methods of harvest for species that are not easily taken through hunting. Well-regulated and legal trapping efforts guided by widely accepted Best Management Practices represent an interesting opportunity that is often overlooked by sportsmen and sportswomen. However, once experienced, it is an activity that can be enjoyed for a lifetime, and CSF will continue to work with partners to ensure that the opportunity to trap is protected and advanced across the nation.

While many sportsmen and sportswomen have understandably been preoccupied with rutting whitetails that are most commonly associated with the month of November, the Thanksgiving season also brings with it another excellent opportunity to spend time afield in the form of trapping seasons. There are few other activities that we enjoy as sportsmen and sportswomen that require the skills needed to be a successful trapper. However, with some training from a seasoned trapper, anyone can find success and, in the right market, might even make some money.

That’s right, trapping is one of the few activities that we participate in that has, at least historically, resulted in profits for some practitioners. A dive into the history books shows just how important fur trapping was for the early American economy. Today, within the context of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation, trapping is highly regulated to ensure that furbearer species maintain their presence across the landscape while staying in balance with ecological and social carrying capacities. Today, fur prices are not as high as they were in the heyday of trapping, but the activity remains a rewarding one for those who appreciate the opportunity to acquire intimate knowledge of their local, natural surroundings while contributing to conservation efforts.

The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation works closely with partners like Fur Takers of America and the National Trappers Association to ensure that opportunities to participate in legal, regulated trapping remain available. Often the target of misinformation campaigns that paint trapping as inhumane, it is important for sportsmen and sportswomen to be informed on the ecological and economic benefits of trapping, the Best Management Practices that guide its implementation and ensure these efforts remain as humane as possible, and the enjoyment that participation in the activity can provide. For more information, visit CSF’s website or contact one of our great mission partner organizations.

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Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?

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