Trapping and Fur
Trapping animals for fur used to be a big thing in the United States years ago but most people who trap here now do it as a hobby. We have a friend who does some trapping on the Gunflint Trail and friends up the lake on the Canadian side of Saganaga do some trapping as well. There are seasons for trapping beavers, otters, fox, martens, rabbits and more.
Trapping is still done in remote communities around the world and in parts of Canada it is still a big thing. The president of the Cree Trappers Association said, "We do not just sell beaver furs, we also use the meat and medicines the beaver provides. The fur trade helps us maintain our independence and our Aboriginal traditions; it is part of our relationship with the land."
A flyer I picked up described fur as a natural sustainable resource. "In nature, many more plants and animals are produced each year than the land can support. We can use part of the surplus nature provides, so long as we protect natural processes and ecosystems." I guess I never looked at trapping in that way or realized the following five facts.
- There are as many beavers and muskrats in North America now as when Europeans first arrived on the continent. Raccoons, coyotes and foxes are more abundant than ever in many regions.
- The fur trade accounts for about one-quarter of one percent of the animals used for food, clothing and other purposes in North America. About twice as many unwanted pets must be put down in humane shelters each year. Ten times more animals are killed on our highways.
- In many regions, beaver and other furbearing animal populations would have to be controlled even if there were no commercial markets for furs. Taxpayers would foot the bill.
- Fur trapping is strictly regulated by governments. The fur trade is a successful working example of sustainable use of renewable natural resources.
- Responsible use of wildlife can provide an economic incentive to help protect forests and other vital wildlife habitat. The loss of such habitat is, in fact, the greatest threat to wildlife today.
A flyer I picked up stated, "Regulated trapping can help keep wildlife populations stable and healthy. Sustainable wildlife use helps protect natural habitat and reduce the potential for suffering caused by disease, starvation and habitat destruction."
I think I’m going to ask my friend if I can buy some beaver pelts and have them made into a beaver hat. After all, a hat made from a beaver he trapped would make less of an impact than a hat manufactured in China and shipped across the sea to be trucked to a store where I could buy it. And I’ll save a few of our trees from being chewed down by the rodent we call a beaver.
There are trapper associations and Fur organizations that try to educate people about the benefits of trapping. A flyer I picked up once has some very interesting information about the fur trade.