Modernizing Trapping Regulations in Indiana

Contact: Nick Buggia, Manager, Upper Midwestern States

Highlights 

  • Indiana House Bill 1183 would extend the check time on any trap that captures and terminates a furbearer to 48-hours, though it does retain the 24-hour check on all non-terminal traps. The bill would also create a one-day fur buyer license.

  • The extension to 48-hours gives trappers increased flexibility in case of inclement weather or other unforeseen delays.

  • A one-day buyer’s license would encourage fur buyers to engage more easily with Indiana trappers.

Why it matters: HB 1183 would allow Indiana trappers who use terminal traps, meaning that an animal caught in the trap is immediately terminated, some additional cushion when checking their traps. Most trappers want to check their traps, terminal or not, as often as possible. It is not only ethical but makes the most economic since. Damaged fur sells for less and the longer an animal is exposed to the elements, the greater risk it has of injury. However, the reality is that many trappers can run into issues that could prohibit them from checking their trap lines, and the additional 24 hours proposed by HB 1183 would allow trappers to operate within the law if they are not able to check their traps due to inclement weather, poor ice conditions, or other unforeseen hurdles that may cause delays. The creation of a one-day buyers license would encourage fur buyers to do business in Indiana if they are traveling through the state.     

Indiana House Bill 1183 (HB 1183) would extend the check time for terminal traps to 48 hours. All other traps will still need to be checked at least once during every 24-hour Period that the trap remains armed. A terminal trap is a “trap that is designed to capture and kill a furbearing animal”. This exclusion of terminal traps from the 24-hour rule is not uncommon and brings Indiana in line with several surrounding states. Because terminal traps are designed to immediately terminate the animal, it negates the concern of live-capture animals spending an extended period of time in the trap, or being exposed to the elements.

Trapping serves numerous beneficial purposes, for example, trappers provide critical furbearer data to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, allowing them to make sound management decisions. By using trapping as a management tool, trappers can help reduce flooding of roads and dykes by controlling beaver populations. Furthermore, trapping can help mitigate human-predator conflicts (e.g., livestock depredation) by managing predator populations and reducing the spread of disease.

Trappers inherently want to check their traps as often as possible to avoid the risk of unnecessary damage to the animal. However, there are times when weather, ice conditions, or other unforeseen obstacles can make it dangerous or delay a trapper from checking all their traps in a 24-hour period. For terminal trap, such as body-gripping traps often employed to catch beavers in aquatic environments, these conditions can be dangerous for the trapper. This extension allows trappers some additional time to check their traps, keeping them safe and within the law, without granting too much time or creating an ethical dilemma due to the risk of losing game. 

In addition to the increased check period, HB 1183 would also allow for a one-day fur buyer’s license at a reduced rate. The ability for an individual to buy a one-day license would encourage more buyers to participate in Indiana’s fur market helping trappers by creating more avenues for them to sell furs.

CSF plans to follow this bill through the legislative process. Please check back for relevant updates on this issue and more.   

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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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