Benifits Of Trapping
In the spring of 1996 Farmer Johnson's field was inundated with water. This
high water level wasn't due to natural flooding or heavy rains but a well
built line of mud, rocks and logs 200 feet long that crossed the river near
his property. Beavers were the cause of this years crop
failure. Farmer Johnson decided the best thing he could do was call the
county trapper. The trapper came and removed most of the beavers and opened
up the dam. The beavers, upon seeing the broken dam and losing the other
beavers, decided to build downstream further where
no one would be plagued by excess water. This shows just one example of how
trapping can be beneficial.
Due to trappings benefits to the community, nature, and the individual
trapper, it should be a welcomed outdoor activity. Trapping is the taking of
wild fur bearing animals for the animal’s meat and the fur which is also
called a pelt. These pelts are used to make clothing, shelters, and are sold
for money. Trapping has a very long history going back to early anthropologic
history and classic Native American cultures . Trapping was the main reason
for the United States to be explored and settled by whites in the late 1700’s
and early 1800’s as trappers and traders went west looking for beaver and
other valuable furs(McCraken and Cleve 8-9). Trapping , when done ethically
and responsibly, will provide these three compliments to those involved.
First, it is a benefit to the surrounding ecosystem, secondly the trapper
gains new knowledge and ideas, and thirdly the surrounding community gets the
benefits from the trapper towards nature.
Those against trapping say it is too cruel and inhumane for the benefits it
provides. Some people say trapping is past it’s time and we no longer have a
need for the pelts animals provide, the benifits it provides, or the life
that a trapper lives. Some even go so far as to say trapping can’t control a
fur bearer population. Groups such as The People for the Ethical Treatment of
Animals and Greenpeace do not agree with the idea of trapping due to their
beliefs previously stated. Through the following supports I hope to prove the
benefits will far outweigh the negatives and that it has a place in today’s
The benefits to the trapper are the most apparent. The fur taken usually
provides a supplemental income. Muskrats taken in Minnesota in 1998 provided
$145,410 and beaver, that same year, produced $1,217,900(Dexter 149-150).
Trapping also provides health benefits and exercise for the trapper. "...it
can be one of the best body builders, with its walking, chopping, rowing, or
paddling, carrying, lifting, bending over, dragging of sleds or toboggans,
skiing or snowshoeing, with its hours in the open air. When one of its
returns is tranquility of mind, its health-giving possibilities are
immeasurably increased"(Errington 101). Finally the trapper learns about the
animals that are trapped and the animals that are seen when running a trap
line. "A trapper must be a student of nature"(Clawson 15). There are many
benefits for todays trapper and these are a driving force behind the reason
for trapping to continue.
The benefits to society are slightly more difficult to see but make a large
impact. A trapper is more likely to take care of and be concerned for the
land they use than someone who is not actively involved outdoors. There are
some places where trapping is very normal and more importantly necessary.
"Trapping is often vital to the subsistence and self-sufficiency of people in
remote regions who have few other economic alternatives"(Houser 1). The
trapping industry provides jobs for thousands of Americans and the money
spent on trapping licenses helps to support the Department of Natural
Resources for many habitat projects. I think Andrew Houser accurately summed
up trapping’s benefit to society when he wrote, "Most of society benefits,
either directly or indirectly from trapping. These activities help reduce
wildlife damage to human property, provide funds for wildlife management and
conservation programs, provides products for human use and provide jobs."
Finally the most important aspect of trapping is its benefit towards nature.
This one is the most difficult relationship to see. Although we can’t stop
nature’s trend toward population cycles trapping can cull its high
varitations in amplitude. Compare pages 51 and 150 by Dexter; a direct
correlation exists between the price for beaver pelts and number of colonies.
As the price drops more colonies are spotted because of fewer trappers
seeking these animals. This shows trapping can maintain a population for the
habitat to support all animals. This helps the animals being trapped from
overpopulating and overusing their habitat. The animals that don’t learn as
fast or aren’t as cautious are removed so it has some of the same effects as
natural selection. So the oppositions argument that trapping isn’t natural
isn’t quite true. With trappers outdoors they would be one of the first ones
to notice if something was out of place or out of balance within nature so
that a disaster or change in animal habits can be noticed and averted if
necessary. The trapping license dollars went towards habitat management such
as 31,800 acres of prescribed burning and 109,000 acres of water level
management(Minnesota 119). These certainly helped the very fur bearers which
from which the monies came from. Trapping has a much greater impact on
wildlife today than most people give it credit for but the supports contained
within should disprove any doubts.
As fellow animals we have a right to use what is here on this earth but as
humans we have a great responsibility to not abuse the natural resources of
the planet. When done properly trapping can have extensive positive effects
on an environment. Hopefully we will continue to see trappers well into the
twenty first century taking their place in the circle of life.