Woods and Waters An outdoor blog by John McCoy

Oregon has a rich outdoor tradition. Hunting, fishing and trapping helped make the state what it is today. Still, the influence from California is strong. Witness the ongoing fight to impose restrictions on trapping, which has reached fever pitch after a man’s small dog was killed in a trap set to kill otters.

From the Associated Press:

GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) — The owner of a dog killed by a trap set next to a popular hiking trail in central Oregon has no complaint with trapping otters, raccoons and bobcats for their pelts.

But Jack Williamson of West Linn is incensed that proposed revisions to state regulations requiring trappers to stay away from places popular with hikers and campers includes a way for the state to grant exemptions.
The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission will vote Thursday on proposed revisions to state trapping regulations.
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife staff is backing the idea of the state’s first no-trapping zones along trails and around campgrounds.
But game program manager Tom Thornton said the department wants to keep open the option of trapping problem animals such as bears, which are generally taken with a live trap.
Williamson’s 8-year-old, 38-pound wheaten terrier, Kieri, became a symbol of efforts to tighten restrictions on fur trappers in Oregon after getting caught last February in a killing trap set for an otter that had been eating fish at the state fish hatchery at Wizard Falls on the Metolius River outside Camp Sherman. The dog was revived, but was put down a few months later over a spinal injury from the trap.
“My issue is not with trapping itself as being an outdated or non-necessary or even cruel endeavor,” Williamson said. “My issue really is at this point in time limited to assuring public safety and doing whatever I can to make sure other families don’t suffer the horror we suffered that day.”
Conservation groups that don’t like trapping in general petitioned the commission last March to revise regulations to prohibit traps within 100 feet of trails and campgrounds, and require all trappers to check their traps daily. Current regulations require most trappers to check their traps every 48 hours, but in some cases, such as trapping for coyotes attacking livestock on private land, periods are much longer. Conservation groups also wanted trappers to put their names and phone numbers on traps, and to post signs around traps.
“I think there is a large contingency (of the public) that thinks these things shouldn’t be used at all,” said Bob Salinger of the Audubon Society of Portland. “They are inhumane, cruel, and indiscriminant. The failure of ODFW to seriously address the issue for the last decade means it is more likely there will be a referendum move forward on a complete ban.”
The commission voted down the petition, but called on the department to consider it while doing a regular update on trapping rules. After reviewing what other states do, the department recommended no-trapping buffers within 50 feet of trails and 300 feet of campgrounds, but left itself the option of allowing trapping it considered necessary. It recommended letting stand the time periods for checking traps, noting that daily checking would be a hardship, particularly on government trappers.
The Oregon Trappers Association backed the buffer zones, but objected to checking traps daily, putting their names on traps, and posting signs.
“The last thing a trapper wants is to catch anybody’s pet,” said Jim Soares, a member of the group. He added that trappers felt putting their names on traps and posting signs would lead to thefts, and having to check traps daily would cost a lot in time and gas.
Trapping helped build Oregon in the 1800s, when the Hudson’s Bay Company sent out trappers to bring in beaver pelts. But last year, only 1,252 people paid $47 for a state trapping license. They reported selling pelts of bobcat, muskrat, river otters, beaver, raccoon and coyote from the 2010-11 winter trapping season worth a total of $785,037.28.
“Very few make a living at it anymore,” said Soares.

W.Va. DNR proposes otter-trapping season

River otters
River otters

West Virginia wildlife officials believe the state’s otter-restocking program is ready to bear fruit.

That’s why Division of Natural Resources biologists have proposed an otter-trapping season. If approved, it would go into effect during the winter of 2011-2012.

DNR furbearer biologist Rich Rogers said otters, reintroduced to the Mountain State in 1984, have expanded their range to most of the state’s habitable waters. The only places the animals have failed to thrive are in the heavily residential Northern Panhandle and in the mine-polluted streams of north-central and extreme southwestern West Virginia.

If the Natural Resources Commission approves the proposal, trappers would be able to sell the pelt of one otter each season.

coonpelts.jpgThe West Virginia Trappers Association will hold its annual convention at the Gilmer County Recreation Center in Glenville, W.Va., Sept. 18-20.

Vendors will have trapping supplies for sale. A root auction will be held Saturday, Sept. 19.  Demonstrations on trapping, snaring, skinning and fleshing will be held. For more information call Scott (304)462-7270 or Janet (304) 772-5586 or log onto www.wvtrappers.com

Wildlife trapper helps make L.A. airport safer

wltrapper.jpgThe L.A. Times has a cool story about a guy who traps birds and mammals on the grounds at Los Angeles International Airport.

Todd Pitlik traps critters as small as European starlings and as large as coyotes and foxes. Talk about an interesting job…

Economy stinks, but most furs still in demand

Janet Hodge of the West Virginia Trappers Association dropped me an e-mail to report on the first fur sale of the 2009 calendar year. She quoted the fur harvesters’ press release on the subject:

“Raccoon remained largely unsold, with only the better quality goods being moved.  No bobcats were offered for sale; however, there remains a good demand for larger beaver,
fisher, muskrat, Eastern red fox and gray fox.”

The complete release, as well as sale amounts, can be found at the Fur Harvesters’ Web site. Adobe Acrobat is required to read the .PDF file.