Furbearer Trapping: An Important Sporting Pursuit and Wildlife Management Tool

Contact: Joe Bachar, New England States Coordinator

  • Several trapping seasons began across the northeast over the past few weeks and several others will be opening soon.
    • General trapping in Maine began on October 30 statewide.
    • Mink, muskrat, and weasel season began on November 1 in New Hampshire.
    • Most trapping seasons started on October 22 in Vermont.
    • Several seasons open throughout the fall across New York.
  • Trapping occupies both unique historical and contemporary roles among our outdoor sporting heritages and is a crucial tool for state agencies to track and manage wildlife populations.
  • Efforts to restrict trapping are often misguided, emotionally driven arguments that conflict with science-backed strategies of wildlife management.
  • The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation works alongside dedicated partner organizations, such as the National Trappers Association and Fur Takers of America, to protect and advance our nation’s trapping heritage.

Why It Matters: Trapping is unique in that it is used in many facets of wildlife management, from population control to human-wildlife conflict resolution, to data collection. Modern restraining traps have been particularly critical in conservation efforts by allowing state agencies to capture and relocate 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. Across the nation, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation has fought ardently to maintain and protect this vital practice, and it will continue to do so in perpetuity.

The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) maintains the mission of working with Congress, governors, and state legislatures to protect and advance hunting, angling, recreational shooting, trapping. That fourth element – trapping – is just as crucial as the rest. Historically, this pursuit was widespread, as many sportsmen and women relied on it for sustenance or a source of income. In modern times, trapping remains an essential wildlife management tool and is a preferred method of take for many sportsmen and women.

Each year, policy efforts arise to restrict and/or outright ban the practice of trapping based on the misbelief that it is unethical or cruel. Contrarily, the United States is one of 19 countries that has agreed to the trapping standards set by the International Organization for Standardization. These standards were developed by groups of biologists, trappers, animal welfare representatives, and the general public. Extensive research on restraining traps has been conducted through annual appropriations from Congress to the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, resulting in the development of Best Management Practices (BMPs) in 1996. All common trap designs have been field tested against BMPs for each species.

Additionally, trapping is one of the most important tools for wildlife management through invasive species control, endangered species relocating, and general research purposes. Without trapping, state agencies would be less able to effectively manage the wildlife populations within their state, which would ultimately have cascading effects on entire ecosystems.

CSF will continue to work alongside state and regional trapping organizations across the nation to maintain trapping as an available wildlife management tool and a time-honored outdoor sporting tradition.

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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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