THE EFFECTIVENESS OF TRAPPING IN WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT
A week ago, it was reported that the California Fish and Game Commission had voted to approve a statewide ban on the trapping of bobcats. This was seen as one in several moves that has proven a pattern by California officials to oppose all things hunting.
While this is extremely disappointing to sportsmen in California as well as around the country, it is certainly not a surprise given a liberal leaning in the state which has been favorable to animal rights groups over the years regardless of situation, science, or common sense.
Trapping is an essential tool in the hunter’s task of catching any particular animal. Much like other forms of hunting, it is meant to curtail the extreme growth of a population, and in most cases it allows for that population to remain at a constant state, with no negative or positive gain in numbers.
So why is it used? Sound wildlife management tells us that any action made towards wildlife must include the following: it must be based on solid biological information, it must benefit other plants and animals in the ecosystem, it must keep the wildlife numbers at a reasonable level for all, and it must do that with enough available resources in mind.
Therefore, in almost any case where trapping is legal, there is usually a good reason for that. An animal population (be it bear, bobcat, wolf, or any other potentially harmful creature) must be held in check with all humans’, animals’, plants’, and environments’ well-being considered.
Regulated trapping absolutely accomplishes that, despite the objections of those who believe it is an overly aggressive technique. The one thing we all need to keep in mind is that certain animal populations MUST be held in check because conservation is key to overall success of all species. Not only does trapping allow for more effective data gathering by wildlife biologists in order to better understand these animals and potential diseases they may carry, but the more aggressive, potentially harmful species such as bears and wolves need to be limited in their impact on other animals.
This is done while complying with animal welfare standards. Many might not see it that way, but there’s a reason trapping is highly regulated and only licensed trappers can pursue this course of action. Most of the time, it is done in fall and winter months to avoid affecting these animals’ care for their young in warm weather months. Wildlife specialists and sportsmen have compassion for these animals, as well as a practical responsibility to ensure that the consequences to their young are few and far between.
Trapping also helps other species who may be in danger from predators and are seeing their number dwindle as a result. Birds, turtles, and smaller species of animals benefit from a limited population of potential threats.
Likewise, the harvesting of these animals provides a great deal of benefits to our society. Food, fur, and other household products come from the harvest. In addition, the maintenance of wildlife populations reduces property damage, crop damage, and the spread of disease to humans and other animals, all things that ensure a safe and prosperous community.
The results are clear. Maine had seen a rise in human-bear conflicts until trapping was implemented as one of several techniques to limit the bear population. Illinois has multiple threatened or endangered species that are protected through trapping. North Dakota is able to prevent predation on waterfowl nests and increase duck production in much the same way. These are just a sample of the hundreds of cases of good trapping does all over the United States.
Unfortunately, trapping continues to have a negative reputation among many citizens in areas that don’t see the positive results of it. These are often the individuals who fail to see the merits in hunting altogether, much less a subsection of it.
Meanwhile, the sportsmen community and state wildlife professionals across the country will continue their hard work and dedication to ensuring that legal trapping efforts provide safer environments and many other benefits to all species.