Trapping furbearers may be making a comeback

Many moons ago, the woods of Pennsylvania were a completely different place. Rather than a place that drew a mostly recreational type crowd, much like today, these woods were full of people working hard to making a living. Abundantly filled with logging crews, hunting gangs, and miles upon miles of trap lines that were manned by those who did their best to supply the booming fur trade.

Trapping’s thousands of years of tradition have been a part of the human race that dates way back to our prehistoric ancestors who invented the original pit traps. A pit trap was a large hole dug by men, often covered in thin twigs and leaves to disguise the trap. Once something had been caught, even a small animal, could be broken down into fur for clothing, food, tools made from bones, and anything else of value. Out of necessity, every single part of an animal that was usable was used — waste not, want not.

I find it to be both a blessing and a curse that we no longer live in a time of necessity when it comes to trapping. A blessing that food, tools, and fur are no longer hard to come by and a matter of life and death. A curse that, because of its decline, certain species of animals no longer remain at controllable numbers.

Perhaps there are no two species wreaking havoc across the Eastern United States quite at the rate of feral or wild hogs and coyotes. In the woods of Pennsylvania, to say the coyote population has grown significantly In the last twenty years, would be an understatement. That being acknowledged, we must consider and respect trapping’s overall effectiveness when it comes to population control of less desirable species of animals most often seen and referred to as a nuisance.

There are two primary issues that caused trapping to fade in participation to begin with. No. 1 is that there’s very little money to be made, and secondly, it takes a lot of time and dedication. So, with that being said, there’s not many folks remaining that run a trap line and collect fur as their primary source of income. There remains a few, but business in the fur trade isn’t exactly booming right now.

The return of trapping as a pastime and it’s climb back in popularity as of late, is primarily because many have begun to view trapping in a whole new light. They’re embracing it not a source of income or a means of survival, but as a means of preservation, and time well spent.

Preservation in the aspect of the protection of many of our beloved game animals, livestock, and even pets. Each coyote that you trap or snare will never again snatch a fawn or turkey from the woods, nab a newborn calf from a farmer’s field, or steal a cat out of your neighborhood. Time well spent in the interest of conservation, protection and proper predator management.

It’s the above epiphany or realization that I believe will continue to spread and therefore collect more and more followers. With this new attitude toward trapping, those followers will then pick up a sport that once was lost, but its effectiveness has been found again.

Good luck trapping, friends.


John Knouse writes about the outdoors for The Sentinel.