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Trappers group requests changes

Published (2/18/2010)
By Sue Hegarty
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Trappers hope to see state regulations fine-tuned governing the sport that attracts about 6,000 participants.

Minnesota Trappers Association leaders asked the House Game, Fish and Forestry Division Feb. 15 to address four key issues this session:

• allowing concurrent beaver, otter and muskrat trapping seasons;

• opening raccoon and fox seasons earlier in forested zones;

• broadening access to conservation officer contact information; and

• adding more trapping information to the Department of Natural Resources’ hunting and trapping handbook.

No action was taken.

Beaver, otter and muskrat trapping season begins in October. Beaver season ends in May, while the other furbearers’ trapping season ends in February. Setting concurrent beaver, otter and muskrat seasons would alleviate the waste of off-season muskrats and otters caught accidentally in beaver traps, said Shawn Johnson, association president.

Similarly, raccoons and fox get caught in coyote traps. When this happens, trappers are required to contact a conservation officer to explain the mishap to avoid fines, Johnson added. MTA members want officer phone numbers published in local newspapers, on industry maps and on Web sites. They also want the DNR to publish an independent trapping handbook.

Muskrats or their pelts may have a market value between $2 and $20. Contrast that to the $150 fines for taking the animals.

“There certainly isn’t a financial incentive to be a good steward of the resource,” said Rep. David Dill (DFL-Crane Lake), the division chairman. He asked both sides to continue working to resolve issues prior to any formal bill introduction.

Seasonal climate differences between northern and southern Minnesota also present unique challenges for trappers in District 1, which includes the Arrowhead Region, Johnson said. Raccoon and fox trappers can be prevented from trapping at all if snow and ice appear early in the fall season; therefore, the MTA is calling for an earlier season in the district.

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