Trappers Live to Trap Another Day in Colorado

Contact: Ellary TuckerWilliams, Rocky Mountain States Senior Coordinator

Highlights

  • The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission voted unanimously to deny a petition to ban all trapping on public and private land in Colorado.
  • According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, highly regulated trapping of furbearer species and the selling of legally harvested furs is not in conflict with the North American Model of Conservation.
  • Trapping is foundational to science-based wildlife management.

Why it Matters: The most recent petition by the Humane Society of United States (HSUS) to ban all trapping on public and private land in Colorado was denied unanimously by the Parks and Wildlife Commission (Commission). This long-standing, anti-trapping effort in the state is hyper-focused on one thing: banning all use of traps regardless of crystal-clear scientific data that demonstrates the necessity of having trapping as a selective, sustainable and humane wildlife management tool. The attacks on science-based wildlife management and our outdoor sporting heritage will not stop with trapping. As a community of sportsmen and women, it is imperative that we rally together because it’s not a matter of “if” the opposition comes for other outdoor pursuits, it’s “when.”

In 1996, Colorado residents voted to support Initiative 14, which approved a constitutional amendment to prohibit the use of “leghold traps, instant-kill body-gripping design traps, poisons or snares” in the state. Several exceptions were made for depredation on private lands and certain governmental entities to protect human health or safety or to manage fish or other non-mammalian wildlife. Shortly after Initiative 14 passed and became Colorado State Continual Amendment 14 (Amendment 14), Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) amended its furbearer and trapping regulations accordingly. In doing so, the use of cage/box traps, also known as live traps, was still allowed in the state.

Fast forward to 2021, HSUS filed yet another misinformed petition with the Commission, claiming that CPW was not abiding by Amendment 14 because of the allowance for cage traps. During the Commission hearing, the Colorado Attorney General’s Office testified in disagreement with the claim outlined in the petition. The Attorney General’s Office stated that CPW’s current regulations are in compliance with Amendment 14, which did not outlaw trapping, but rather prohibited various methods of take related to trapping. Furthermore, CPW issued a statement, recommending that the Commission deny the petition based on four key points:

  1. CPW’s strict trapping regulations protect Colorado’s furbearers and are consistent with the North American Model of Conservation.
  2. Amendment 14 does not prohibit the use of live traps like box and cage traps, which are the only designs currently allowed by CPW.
  3. The Commission recently considered a similar petition and has taken necessary steps to address the concerns listed in that petition.
  4. The Commission has other regulatory priorities that take precedent over the petitioners most recent request, such as the mandated wolf introduction effort.

After excellent expert testimony, public comment, and a detailed Q&A period, the Commission voted unanimously to deny HSUS’s petition to ban all trapping in the state of Colorado. The Commission took a strong stance in support of science-based wildlife management and the sportsmen and women who continue to interact with wildlife in a sustainable way.

During this effort, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation joined 50 other organizations on a letter in strong opposition of the trapping ban petition. The coalition sets a wonderful example of how powerful the outdoor sporting community can be when we band together to protect science-based wildlife management and our collective outdoor sporting heritage.

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