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Trapping - Getting to the bottom of the sensationalism

The U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance represents sportsmen's outdoor interests. Occasionally, we receive inquiries about why we fight for trapping. Doug Jeanneret, U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance director of communications, has been a trapper for over 30 years and has taken the time to respond to this question.

No other outdoor issue has been as sensationalized as trapping, nor has any other issue had as much misinformation surround it. With trapper numbers dwindling, it is a prime target for the antis' attack.

Some hunters even bad-mouth trapping. Before making a decision about the sport, here are some facts to keep in mind:

  • Trapping is our first and foremost traditional outdoor sport;
  • When properly used, leghold traps are a vital and humane tool for wildlife management;
  • State wildlife agency biologists - the same people who have led the resurgence 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 comeback of waterfowl populations. Managers also see it as extremely important in protecting the public from outbreaks of diseases such as rabies.

Unfortunately, the animal rights movement continues to spread an abundance of misinformation about trapping in an effort to end what, in its opinion, is an inhumane tradition.

How hated is the sport? Read the rhetoric produced by some animal rights groups:

The Humane Society of the United States says, "Trapping is well known for the suffering it causes. Strides have been made to eliminate the use of traps in the United States, with eight states (WA, CA, MA, CO, AZ, NJ, FL, and RI) now banning their use."

The Fund for Animals attacks trapping by calling it "cruel and painful." It would like to see an "outright prohibition on all body-gripping traps due to the inherent cruelty of the devices."

The Animal Protection Institute encourages people to prohibit trapping on their land, boycott businesses that sell fur, support trapping bans and encourage non-lethal wildlife controls.

Just as disturbing, some sportsmen have developed the attitude that trapping is a disposable part of our outdoor heritage. They think that a ban on trapping would not affect them; the anti's will get what they want and let other sportsmen alone.

I have witnessed in states such as Massachusetts, that once the anti's stop trapping, they continue to work even harder to destroy other parts of our heritage.

In New Jersey, less than two years after a trapping ban was approved, the anti's had a bill introduced to ban bowhunting. Fortunately, with a full court press put on by bowhunters and the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance, the bill did not pass.

Believe me, if all trapping were banned, anti's would focus on other aspects of our outdoor heritage. Hunting with hounds or bowhunting would be the next traditions to fall. If the anti's were not concentrated on trapping, they would be more focused on one of our other outdoor activities.

Sportsmen must understand that if any one of our traditions is sacrificed, other parts of our hunting heritage may fall, as well. We should and must solidify our defenses and support each other regardless of whether we trap, fish, or hunt.

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