Debunking the Myths: Five Trapping Questions Answered
By angelamontana

Posted: March 19, 2015

We have all heard the questions and some are from people interested in hearing factual answers.  Well, for those, here you go:

Why do we still need trapping?  Can’t nature take care of itself?

Answer by Bryant White, Biologist, Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (Missouri, USA) :

I can understand why some people might think that, especially if they are not aware of how profoundly we have transformed and encroached on the landscape across this country.  This is no longer a “natural” environment and we cannot dodge our responsibilities to restore some sort of balance to a system that has been radically disrupted.  Biologists often talk about the “carrying capacity” of a natural habitat.  But today we also have to think about the “societal carrying capacity” – in other words, how many animals and what types of animals are we ready to tolerate in close proximity? Coyotes and foxes are snatching pet dogs and cats from people’s backyards in many towns and cities. Moose and deer are colliding with cars, causing serious injuries. Beaver flood forests and roads, fields and property; raccoons and other species carry dangerous diseases and parasites, including rabies and intestinal roundworm.  We co-exist in close proximity with wildlife in much of our country and we must maintain some sort of balance. In this context, trapping is an essential conservation tool to help maintain stable and healthy wildlife populations in a responsible way.

Why do we need foothold traps?

Answer by Alan Herscovici, Director, North American Fur Industry Council :

While quick-killing traps are still usually preferable, from a humane perspective (because no wild animal wants to be restrained), live-holding systems are still required for some larger predators (that are too strong or cautious to be taken in killing sets), or when conservation authorities need to radio-collar or relocate animals. The fact that modern foothold traps are used by wildlife biologists to capture and release coyotes, wolves, lynx and other animals unharmed, is the clearest indication that these traps are not the diabolical devices that activists would have us believe.

Does trapping endanger species?

Answer by Ryan and Minette Kole, certified trapper (British Columbia, Canada) :

That’s pretty well impossible with today’s strict, government-regulated trapping seasons and other rules. As trappers, our goal is to maintain stable and healthy wildlife populations; we don’t want to deplete our own resource – that would put us out of business!  The real threat to wildlife today is not regulated hunting or trapping, it is the destruction of the wilderness areas by industrial activity – and trappers are the ones who are out there monitoring what’s really happening out in the bush, sounding the alarm and working with logging companies and government to protect that natural habitat.

Are furbearers trapped only for their fur?

Answer by Bryant White, Biologist, Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (Missouri, USA) :

“Trapping would be important even if no one wanted fur; regulated trapping is now an essential element of responsible wildlife management in the USA.

“Many people don’t know that modern traps are used to capture animals, unharmed, to apply radio collars for research, or to reintroduce species (wolves and river otters) into regions where they were previously eradicated.

“Trapping is also essential to protect some thirty endangered species of plants and animals.

“Whooping cranes, for example, would almost certainly be extinct in the USA within two years if we didn’t aggressively trap predators like coyotes and foxes in their nesting areas.

“Endangered sea turtles are also protected by trapping raccoons and foxes that seek to dig up their eggs.

“Wolves must be managed to protect livestock, while beavers can cause millions of dollars of damage to forest habitat, water supplies, agricultural land, roads and other property by flooding.

“Skunks and raccoons in cities carry lethal diseases (rabies) and dangerous parasites, such as intestinal roundworms.”

What happens to the rest of the trapped animal after the fur has been taken?

Answer by Serge Larivière, biologist, Cree Income Security Board (Quebec, Canada) :

For aboriginal and other trappers living far from urban centers, beaver and other wild furbearers provide food as well as fur, income and other resources. Whatever is not eaten by trappers and their families is returned to the forest to feed other wildlife through the winter.

For more information on fur and trapping, and to check out the original questions above and more, visit