I want to respond to letters written by Connie Poten and Susie Waldron (Feb. 3, 2011). I am a trapper since childhood. I continue the tradition because I believe, along with 30 percent of society, that trapping is an acceptable form of the consumptive use of a natural resource.
Poten and Waldron are part of the 10 percent of society that find trapping unacceptable. Whatever facts or views they are presented with, it will still be unacceptable. By using inflammatory terminology they skew the perception of trapping to coincide with their beliefs. The remaining 60 percent of society is unsure whether trapping has a place in wildlife management.
Trapping methods, technology and equipment has changed dramatically since my childhood. Stringent regulations, trapper education and development of best management practices have evolved to ensure safer, more humane trapping seasons. The practices established and being studied by the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies are techniques that ensure proper restraint of target animals without harm, allowing release or dispatching of the animal with a properly placed bullet.
Today’s trappers are taught how to adjust, modify and adapt traps for specific species. Swivels are placed at the base of the traps so it turns freely, jaws are modified and do not close tightly, and the trap pan is adjusted to specific pounds of pressure for target animals.
Trappers are helping to relocate species. Canadian and U.S. trappers used foothold traps to relocate wolves into Yellowstone Park. Foothold traps were used to relocate beaver cutting down cherry trees in Washington D.C. Trappers will relocate 20 swift fox to the Fort Peck Reservation in eastern Montana and are continually relocating problem beaver throughout Montana.
Although I do not agree with the extreme views of Poten or Waldron, they do have the right to express them, even if their assertions are questionable. It is up to the public to research such rhetoric before forming opinions about the management of Montana’s wildlife.
Montana Trapper Education Program