November 24, 2014 – by Jim Soares, Advisory Board Member
It appears Oregon sportsmen could be facing an anti-trapping initiative in the upcoming election of 2016. Some sportsmen may think that they will not be affected, but they need to think again. Anti-trapping and anti-hunting groups try to pick off the smaller groups that they think are most vulnerable, but we have learned that ultimately their goal is to end all human use of wildlife. Sportsmen need to pay attention to this as a loss for one of us is a loss for all of us.
This Will Impact Big Game Hunters, Bird Hunters, and Land Owners
If you hunt ungulates you could be impacted by a trapping ban. Last year 4,489 coyotes and 3,871 bobcats were taken by trappers for a total of 8,360. If each coyote and bobcat takes just one elk calf, deer, or antelope fawn, there are that many less potentially available to hunters. If each coyote and bobcat takes multiple fawns, you can readily see the impact on your hunting opportunities especially in areas where some of these ungulate populations may be decreasing. If you add in predation by cougars, bears and now wolves, you can only imagine the loss in hunting opportunities. Trapping is the most effective way to keep coyotes and other predator numbers in check, and without that tool very high populations of coyotes and other predators could have disastrous results for hunters, ranchers, and other groups.
As noted by Utah’s coyote bounty program, reducing/controling the coyote population has resulted in, at least in part, an increase in mule deer fawn survival.
Sen. Ralph Okerlund, R-Monroe, sponsored the Mule Deer Preservation Act during the 2012 Legislature. He and other hunters figured the bounty would result in 20,000 coyotes being turned in each year.
The bill set aside $500,000 for the program.
Those numbers have not been reached, but DWR biologists say the number of coyotes being killed through the bounty and various other programs — including contracted hunters — has increased since the act took effect; and that likely is helping deer herds increase. – Oregonian, October 31, 2014
Studies Prove Trapping Helps Bird Populations
Trapping is beneficial to bird hunters as well. Mink, raccoon, otter, coyote and fox all hunt for both waterfowl and upland bird nests and young. All these furbearers also take adult birds when the opportunity presents itself, and this predation can impact some bird populations dramatically. Although beavers and muskrats offer many benefits for waterfowl, they can also negatively affect waterfowl management by damaging dikes by their digging and burrowing activities. Fur trappers annually take thousands of these animals to relieve damage in refuges around Oregon. This balances the overall goal of statewide sustainable harvest with goals of addressing specific issues at local scales.
According to Delta Waterfowl studies published in the Winter 2014 publication:
In Saskatchewan, Delta biologist Mike Buxton led a team to measure the impact of predator remove on over-water nesting ducks such as canvasbacks as well as grassland nesting ducks. Average nesting success in upland trapped blocks was 32.5 percent – compared to 6.5 percent in no-trapped control lock areas. – Delta Waterfowl Winter 2015 Publication
Trappers Are Not Bloodthirsty, Greedy Slobs as Portrayed by Oregon’s Anti-Trappers
This work is done at no cost to the tax payers and is a great advantage to the refuge systems. Anti-trappers try to portray trappers as bloodthirsty individuals who only want to kill as many furbearers as possible. Nothing could be further from the truth. In order to be a successful trapper, you must have a great deal of knowledge of your quarry. You must be familiar with furbearer habits, habitats and their relationship within the ecosystem. You must know what they eat, how they hunt or forage, where they routinely travel and what they will and will not do. There are thousand of acres of habitat, so getting an animal to step in two square inches for a secure and humane capture is a major challenge that takes years of study and effort. You cannot gain that kind of knowledge without gaining a great respect for the animals you pursue. Trappers love furbearers, desire long-term sustainable harvest, and want as many furbearers in the ecosystem as that ecosystem will support. Trapping is monitored and regulated by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and efforts are made to not over trap any species. For example, trappers are required to submit a harvest report after each season, and if necessary, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife makes regulatory adjustments to ensure appropriate management of our furbearer resources.
The disastrous bear-cougar initiative that passed in 1994 should have opened everyone’s eyes to the results of allowing the anti crowd to influence wildlife management. That ballot initiative was not part of any management strategy of the ODFW, or any pro-trapping or pro-hunting group, but rather the efforts of those oppose to our way of life. We as sportsmen must stand together to defeat any anti-trapping initiative and we must remain vigilant about any such efforts.
Good Luck Hunting, Fishing, and Trapping
Jim Soares, Advisory Board Member