Do you [have a mind like] a steel trap? (courtesy ammoland.com)

The U.S. Sportsman’s Alliance Foundation reckons trappers get a bad rap. “No other outdoor pursuit has been as sensationalized as trapping, nor has any other pursuit had as much misinformation [lies] surround it. With trapper numbers at best static, it has and will continue to be a prime target for the animal rights lobby.” No surprise there. But the USSAF’s alarmed about FUDDS; bow and gun hunters who oppose or at least don’t actively support trapping. Casual gun owners who don’t recognize a slippery slope when they see one. What’s your take? Should the USSAF shut its trap on trapping and risk alienating [some] hunters or continue to defend the “sport”? Make the jump for their five bullet points on why you should defend trapping . . .

  • Trapping is our first and foremost traditional outdoor sport, having been the impetus for the opening of the new world
  • Foothold traps are a vital and humane tool for wildlife management
  • State wildlife agency biologists – the same people who have led the resurgence of a variety of wildlife we now enjoy – support trapping and see it as a necessary tool for managing furbearers
  • Trapping has proven to be a critical element in the prevalence of waterfowl populations
  • Wildlife managers also see it as extremely important in protecting the public from outbreaks of diseases such as rabies.

[h/t ammoland.com]

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97 Responses to Question of the Day: Is Trapping OK?

  1. I’m in favor of anything that makes the panty-soiling Fudds queasy. You know, things like trapping, AR rifles and pretty women.

  2. Which would the neighbors prefer for gofer/groundhog disposal: a quiet clank from a trap set across their lair, or loud shotgun blast (or three, if the others are slow to run)?

    Note that feral cats vanished when large predatory birds moved in nearby… Remaining housecats stay near home.

    • There are live traps for groundhogs and gophers, or are you just turned on by animals chewing off their own legs?

      HOW is trapping a sport? It’s a JOB. It would be like claiming plumbing was a sport.

      • Yeah. Trapping for pest control or wildlife management, sure… but I’m not at all sure it’s a sport.

      • So after trapping in a “live for a couple more hours” trap, what is you prefered final solution? Throw trap in large container of water/pond, close range .22, or big wet kiss and release on neighbor’s property, other ______?

    • Honestly I’m about ready to fill the gopher tunnels with acetylene gas and light the sucker off. The traps barely keep up with the little bastards.

      • Dad had to train his miniature dashund to not go down the tunnels- shooting the wrong brown critter would’ve gotten him shot at. Thus far he’s used live traps, decidely-not-live traps, Savage slug gun, turkey shotgun, AR-15, 30-06, 270, bow & lawnmower. Last one was an accident on his part- long grass & the gofer hunkered down when it couldn’t see where the noise was coming from, then stood up at a bad moment. Redefined ground-hog.

        The traps he usually uses are designed to snap the neck of the animal- I remember seeing a PSA about them for dog owners about how to get them open. No way a human can pry the jaws of the trap apart in time to keep the dog from strangling, you need to compress the springs & lock them down, one per side. Dad’s more than a touch paranoid about setting traps unless he’s sure no pets will be near them. They’re designed to be set across the opening of the tunnel- half the kills he’s gotten happened when the critter ran for the hole as he walked nearby.

  3. While I may not romanticize trapping the same way I do hunting it is critical for wildlife management, and we do need to manage wildlife, so provided it is done ethically it is a-ok with me.

  4. People still trap? For what? Yes I know of the occasional need to remove as pests the burgeoning beaver population, but that does not qualify it as a “sport.” Is there rally a market for pelts? Does that mean that Jeffrey Dahmer, despite his preference for cats, was a “sportsman”?

    • Given the damage feral cats did to the local wild turkey population, there was quiet official discussion about trapping a few hundred of them…. until the newly roosted owls & red-tailed hawks discovered a 2-for-1 bonus in eating another predator.

    • There is a big market for pelts. Loads of N. American furs ship to China and Russia after auction each year. I believe hunters, fishermen and outdoorsmen in general should support trapping. If you don’t, the anti’s will come for you next!

      • Imagine, if you have the imagination for it, some anti putting those snide little quotes around your favorite activity. Hell, they’re doing it now if you are a shooter.

        You call hunting a “sport”? How is men with guns blasting away at targets a “sport”? Catching fish with a cruel barb and then THROWING them back is a “sport”? How can riding around in a silly go-cart for 3 hours with the occasional stop to hit a ball be called a “sport”? You sure don’t have to be an athlete. Needn’t be much of one to play the “sport” of baseball either. Bunch of overweight 40 year olds making millions of dollars for playing the “sport” of hitting a ball with a stick. I think we should ban them all.

        See how easy it is to ridicule the other guys enjoyable activity? Let them ban trapping . And we’ll see what they come after next. Why should “they” get to decide what the rest of us should find enjoyable and recreational?

        • Trapping animals is “recreation”? Like dumpster-diving, I suppose.

          I refuse to criticize trappers; I know where that slope leads. But I’ll be damned if I’ll jump at the chance to support something that’s the moral equivalent of crucifying cats.

      • my father trapped back about ten years ago. gave him something to do, got him out of the house away from the wife n kids. oh and HE ENJOYED it. plus it was a good way to deal with coyotes and an overpopulation of beavers. you sir a douchbag troll, if you think he was out there maliciously crucifying these animals you are out of your god damn mind. oh an mister william go screw yourself.

  5. I got a new trap for Christmas last year. I love it.
    Farmers love responsible trappers, going after things like gophers and badgers.
    I support trapping almost as much as hunting and fishing.

    • We have a lot of them around my area, especialy around work. While I wouldnt hesitate to shoot if a pack came at me, Im not planning on going hunting in city limits.

  6. I’m not a huge supporter, but I’ll oppose laws prohibiting or further restrictions on trapping. Trapping has useful purposes, as some have been outlined above, and I don’t appreciate additional and unnecessary government regulation.

  7. A few years ago, I took the trapping class needed prior to obtaining a license. I’d waited all my life to do so. If there is a state hunting or trapping license, I’ve now got it. Trapping is humane actually and there are predators like coyotes that are damm near impossible to shoot into controllable populations. So trapping is the answer. Period. But since trapping has such a bad rep, it was taught in class to keep a low profile. Crazy as it seems, don’t tell folks you trap, visit your trapline surreptitiously etc.

    As for the pelts as asked above, yes there is a considerable trade in fur today. If you gather the pelts in a professional manner you can bring them to local taxidermists or dealers. They in turn will have them collected by regional guys who then sell them up at the North American auctions in Canada. China has a particular demand for fur and is a big buyer. Depending on the species you can make from a couple of bucks for nutria up to 20 or 30 for a yote. So in the month or so of trapping season one could make enough money for a new handgun or camera or some other toy. Not bad at all.

    Here are a couple of sites to check out.

    These folks have everything you need.
    http://www.fntpost.com/

    These folks are one of the big Canadian auction houses.
    http://www.nafa.ca/about

    Some pelt pricing at the auction. Of course local guys will pay less. Each level of the market has to make some profit.
    http://trappingtoday.com/index.php/category/fur-prices/

  8. When people actually get hungry they’ll get over this ridiculous notion that killing food needs to be “sporting”. I don’t trap, but I want the option and would choose the preservation of American tradition over appeasing anyone. Besides, if it makes PETA and the like squirm so much the better.

    • Trapping makes me uncomfortable in a way hunting and fishing don’t. I think its partly because its an activity I haven’t been exposed to before, partly because I don’t understand exactly how most traps work, and partly because my definition of “humane” may be rather different from the one used in this article if traps work the way I think they work. Unless death in a trap is quick and mostly painless or the trapping itself is painless followed by a clean kill I hesitate to call it humane.
      Disclaimer: I’m a (PETA hating) vegan, so my opinion may be a bit biased.
      All that said, I fully support the rights of hunters, fishers, and trappers to do the things they enjoy.

  9. Trapping pre-dates fire.

    It’s essentially the first activity that separated human from animal (animals hunt but don’t trap).

    So yay for trapping.

  10. Trapping is not a “sport”. Everyone I know that does so, does it as a job. Whether they are selling pelts, or removing pests, they aren’t sportsmen, they are workers. Also, it should be noted that leg hold traps aren’t the only kind of trap in use.

    • For me…Hunting and Fishing isn’t a sport either. It is a way to supply food and nothing more.

      It isn’t a sport and never has been. It has become a leisure activity, but it has never been a sport.

      I don’t know why people think this. The term “sportsman” has become bastardized over the years somehow.

      • Eh? Hunters and fishermen been called sportsmen for many generations, ain’t they?

        I’m not sure how you would use the word? Because people who play games with balls and sticks are athletes, not sportsmen.

        I would say an old timey fur trapper was definitely a sportsman in every sense of the word. Nowadays people associate traps with animal control and they are good for that, but it is just another way of reaping nature’s bounty.

        • “Because people who play games with balls and sticks are athletes, not sportsmen. ”

          Billiards uses a ball and a stick. Are pool players “athletes”?

          OF COURSE THEY AREN’T.

        • I thought people who play games with sticks/balls/etc were children or children who need to grow up and act their age.

  11. I find trapping to be one of the most enjoyable outdoor activities. It’s sorta line Christmas morning when you round the bend, waiting to see what you got. I like using footholds and body traps back in the woods. I use snares closer to home for getting rid of pests. The neighbor’s cat appreciates it. Never had any luck with live traps. Best of all, trapping gives me an excuse to get my grandfather’s old .22 pistol out, what we would know call a Ruger Mark I.

    • No less sporting that putting a piece of lead through a deer at a quarter mile or any distance for that matter. I would say its tougher, much tougher.

  12. I’m not a huge fan of trapping an animal and leaving it there for a while. I support heavier punishments for those who don’t check their traps regularly as mandated by law. That’s just plain cruel.

  13. ““No other outdoor pursuit has been as sensationalized as trapping, nor has any other pursuit had as much misinformation [lies] surround it.”

    I don’t have any problem with trapping (though I would agree it’s less of a sport and more of an ends to a desirable means), but I do have a problem with that particular statement.

    Maybe it’s just because of my affirmation-bias, but I can think of at least ONE “outdoor pursuit” that has been more “sensationalized” and surrounded by “misinformation”. Or maybe I’m wrong, and I just missed the AG and POTUS grandstanding against trapping? Dunno.

    Crazies at PETA are saying bad things about you? Yeah, that sucks, for sure. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go be called a baby-killing murder-merchant by my neighbors because they saw walking out of the LGS.

  14. Anyone who finds trapping unsavory in any way should take a step back and realize that one of the most basic forms of hunting for survival was the use of deadfall traps to catch rodents and other small animals. The use of traps is also one of the most elementary modes of defensive warfare that has turned the tide in many conflicts.

    Watch Les Stroud’s Survivorman and tell me he is not a sportsman when he emulates the techniques of Native Americans to catch and eat all sorts of things you wouldn’t. There are some types of traps which could be called inhumane, but the practice itself is the essence of bushcraft and sportsmanship.

    • When Les Stroud is taping his shows, he’s a television personality, not a sportsman. Where is the “sport” in teaching wilderness survival skills? There’s no sense of recreation in it; it’s about staying alive.

      • I disagree. I think there is a distinct sense of recreation to it, albeit a highly masochistic one. My father would get me up at two in the morning to go surf fishing before dawn. He considered that recreation, even when the beach was teeming with biting flies. The fish were almost always biting too.

        You had a point about billiards up above I suppose, but would you call a billiards player a sportsman? I haven’t been to a pool hall in years but I think a pro billiards player might prefer to be called an athlete. I think “player” is good enough for most though. It is a game.

        I was raised to view sportsmen as hunters, anglers and race car drivers. This would include practitioners of the associated arts such as gun smithing, bush craft, auto mechanics and so on. These are sportsmen, to me. I guess not everyone has this as a working definition as the term is somewhat subjective.

  15. You have to have your head in the sand to NOT see that the anti-trapping efforts by PETA and the other groups are part of their propaganda campaign to demonize hunting and eating any meat – domestic or wild. This is the same tactic that produced the statists’ attacks on “Saturday night specials”, “undetectable plastic handguns (hello, Glock)”, “cop-killer bullets (any bullet they choose)”, and, of course, “assault weapons (AR-rifles)”.

    Once they get the idea of trapping as a “cruel sport” into the public mush-mind, and get it banned, they will move on to hunting, fishing, and eventually growing domestic animals for food. If you want to see proof of this, take a look at jolly old England. The same people in England who ban guns have banned most hunting, all trapping, and are working on fishing now. It is all part of the campaign to turn America into a nation of collectivists, instead of a nation of individuals

    Slippery slope indeed – don’t fall for it. “Hey, we have to get weapons of war off the streets.” – Barack Obama

    • Well said, sir. Outdoorsmen and self defense proponents need to stick together. We have strength in unity. Trapping is not a necessity for me, but if it is a desire for someone else I support that freedom.

  16. At the end of the day, the various methods we use to catch and kill animals are usually quicker and more humane then how Mother Nature does it…

  17. If it weren’t for a trapper.
    My house would have been overrun by raccoons.
    They do 100% serve a purpose.
    Mama Coon and about 4 babies gone back to the Glades and not my attic.

  18. I am an avid hunter and take my share of deer, turkeys, doves and coyotes each year either by firearm or archery equipment. I do not trap. Not due to any philosophical reasons. I just don’t need another hobby. I do admire those who trap though as trapping takes more skill and knowledge of wildlife behaviour than most recognize. I think we outdoorsmen should support and encourage the “sport” of trapping.

  19. I also support trapping with a sixth bullet point.
    It proves my neighbor’s dogs were shitting in my yard (and makes them stop).

  20. All these nice, comfortable urbanites, once again lecturing us hicks on what is acceptable.

    Think a leghold trap is nasty business? You should have seen all the pocket gophers I’ve killed with Cinch traps. Thousands of them. I’d make sure they were dead, cut off their tails for the county bounty evidence, then toss them into a hole in the ground.

    Trapping for pests is better than poisoning, because there’s no secondary kill. Some farmers would put down strych on grain for gophers, but the secondary kill on raptors was unacceptable.

  21. This isn’t the 19th century frontier, our outdoor pursuits aren’t about going hungry or not. They’re hobbies and as such you owe the animal a quick and humane death.

    Deadfall or cage traps are fine by me but leaving an animal in a snare or leg trap for hours or days is right up there with “hunting” pen raised farm animals. It’s not humane, it’s not sporting, and anyone that expects me to support it anyway because I’m a wild game hunter has a seriously twisted view of what hunting is about.

    • I knew plenty of families in high school who relied on canning and subsistence hunting to make it through the winter. Their incomes would be based on whatever seasonal work they could find in the warmer months, which would generally be enough to cover utilities for the rest of the year. A deer tag and a couple rounds of .30-30 cost as much as a trip to the closest grocery store and a couple pounds of store-bought meat.

      You’re entitled to whatever hobbies you want, as long as you’re not hurting anyone else, I don’t care. But please, don’t assume that it isn’t entirely practical or necessary for someone else.

  22. My thoughts about trapping are the same as my thoughts about hunting:

    If the Fudds support me in my right to punch holes in paper with an AR-15, then I will support them in their right to engage in the time-honored sport of hunting.

    If the Fudds do NOT support my rights, then I will denounce them as sick bastards who get off on killing animals.

    Their choice.

  23. I hunt and trap, and i have no problem dispatching a number of wild beasties ( including the evil squirrels), but I’ve always had a problem with foothold traps. better to live trap and then blow them away the next day, then let them sit there all night in pain, possibly chewing their own foot off.

    • Pretty much how I feel about it. Live cage traps are okay in my book, snares and footholds aren’t unless that line is being closely watched. That being said I don’t support outlawing of the latter methods. It’s more a question of personal ethics than something that demands regulation.

  24. I started trapping muskrats on our farm in the Adirondacks when I was 12 years old in 1956. Saved all my money (rats brought about $1.25) until I was 17 and paid cash for a brand new chevy impala!

      • Actually, destroying traps is not a crime if they are found in areas where trapping is not allowed which is most areas both public and private. In my home state it’s only illegal to steal the traps from areas where trapping is illegal, but destroying them is legal.
        Stealing a trap from a legal trapping area is a 3-4th degree misdemeanor with up to 30 days in jail, destroying one in a legal area is 5th degree damage to property which carries no jail time. This is why we destroy them, well it’s the main reason we do.

        Quit playing lawyer.

        I’m with you barstoolguru.

        • I can’t find any state with hunter harassment laws so lax, and, given your omission of said information, I’m going to have to assume you’re making it up.

          I did find that first offense in Ohio is less than thirty days, plus fine, but you bet your ass you’re doing time for fifth degree criminal mischief. If you remove a legal trap, anywhere, that’s just theft (in addition to hunter harassment), and you’d be surprised how expensive some of those traps are (which is to say, you’re looking at a felony.)

          Your line of reasoning for destroying a trap in an illegal trapping area has no basis in legal reality. It’s still private property, and is still afforded all the protections private property is given. Alternately, if you tried to argue that the owner lost their rights to it by placing it illegally on public property, it would become public property, which means defacing it is definitely a felony.

          Incidentally, you mentioned doing this in Wisconsin, which means when you get caught, you and your group will be barred from entering public land in the state of Wisconsin. Since you imply that is not your state of residence, there is essentially no chance of the courts applying anything less than the maximum sentence.

          Bottom line, it’s still illegal, even if you don’t get caught.

        • If you think a trap is illegally placed, call the local fish & game enforcement people. If you’re wrong, you get an education rather than handcuffs.

          If you’re opinionated about trapping, take the licencing class. At least then you’ll have more knowledge about the practices and the law.

  25. I have no issue with trapping in general, but like hunting you should take your game in the most humane way possible. I don’t really care for foot hold traps, but even they are probably more humane than dying of mange. And I’m not going to call for banning their use, because there’s a good chance I don’t know what I’m talking about.

  26. A lot of people see traps like they are in cartoons, with big scary teeth. Foothold traps have smooth jaws. With leaf spring traps, they usually won’t break any bones. I always tie off to a young sapling. If you tie to sometying solid, most animals will slip. It’s law, at least in KY, to check your traps every 24 hours. They also are required to have your name and address on them, which game wardens use to keep a close eye on trappers. I love hunting but trapping requires a lot more knowledge of the game animal.

  27. Given that firearms are a part of prepping, and prepping means caring for yourself without a logistics chain, yes, I’m ok with trapping.

    It’s as much of a sport as gardening is.

  28. I, we play war(train-have fun) a lot in the forests around the MN/WI border and in western Montana, whenever we come across active traps we destroy them. Whether the traps are in a legal area or not we make them inoperable. Trapping is a disgusting practice that should of died off with the frontier days.

    • I can’t stand motorcycles with loud pipes. They destroy people’s hearing and are get really rode by people who are of questionable backgrounds. However, I don’t go knocking them over and sugaring gas tanks in the Walmart parking lot. Every trap destroyed is one destroyed for Obama. Plus they can get expensive. I wonder what one would say if he saw his traps being destroyed by vandals.

    • Lars, I feel sorry for you and if you have a spouse, I pray for her/him because you are a disturbed individual

    • If they were my traps, and I caught you, I’d think you were a coyote trying to steal my harvest, and I would aim appropriately.

    • Lars, when I lived in Minnesota, destroying a trap was a felony. Hope you encounter one of the game conservation officers I knew.

  29. I personally find it distasteful and not at all a “sport.” However, since it doesn’t violate the rights or well being of another person I don’t think there should be any intervention by any regulatory body, government or otherwise.

  30. Unless you’re a vegeterian having an opposing view to trapping or hunting seems a bit hypocritical to me. Ever lived on a farm? Ever been to a slaughterhouse?

    I’m a vegeterian. I have no problem with legal hunting and trapping. And if shtf and interrupts food flow or production I may just take up old habits.

  31. Since the passage of Initiative 713 in Washington state. The use of body-gripping design, traditionally used mole traps are no longer legal for use in Washington (RCW 77.15.192, 77.15.194; WAC 232-12-142).
    In light of this change of law, I will do my best to be a good citizen. Any moles I catch alive with another method I will release in to the wild of the Capital Campus in Olympia within shadow of the capital building to live out their humble lives with out fear of the evil traps.

    Oh but then again….
    “groundskeepers have used five to 10 of the illegal traps on campus lawns, including at the Governor’s Mansion, for a few years – apparently unaware of the law.”
    “The irony is, if I’ve got coyotes killing my sheep, I can’t put a trap out. But if you’ve got a mole on the Capitol Campus, you can,’’

    http://www.theolympian.com/2010/02/03/1124383/illegal-mole-traps-pulled-from.html

    Looks like we not only need legal carve outs for LEOs but need them for grounds keepers too.

  32. “No other outdoor pursuit has been as sensationalized as trapping, nor has any other pursuit had as much misinformation [lies] surround it.”

    Really?
    Come to Canada…we’ll introduce you to seal hunting (we know a thing or two about trapping too).
    The enviro-kooks have actually CAUSED an environmental catastrophe of epic proportions with their meddling in the East Coast seal hunt. Guess what happens to fish stocks when a hungry predator population is allowed to grow unchecked?

  33. I’m good with trapping. I had my trapping license when I lived in Alaska, and I’m thinking of getting a trapping license now that I’m back in PA.

  34. Main point, trapping is necessary for control of varmints/pests in the close proximity of homes, livestock, children etc. Removing destructive nuisance animals is simply a needed task. Period.

    With all that, my problem with those who trap for furs are those who don’t check their strings on a regular basis. Leaving any animal to suffer for days at a time simply because you are a lazy f*ck pisses me off. It pisses me off more than the screeching&caterwauling of the leftards who endlessly without end wail&gnash their teeth about hunting/trapping/shooting/farming/fishing/drilling/mining ad nauseum.

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