Trapping comes home to the Upper Peninsula

ESCANABA — While trapping is easily recognized as a viable and necessary mode of wildlife management, many do not appreciate how its origin in the United States can be traced back to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

According to Wikipedia, “Mackinac Island is an island and resort area, covering 3.8 square miles in land area, in the U.S. state of Michigan. It is located in Lake Huron, at the eastern end of the Straits of Mackinac, between the state’s Upper and Lower Peninsulas. The island was home to an Odawa settlement before European exploration began in the 17th century. It served a strategic position as a center on the commerce of the Great Lakes fur trade. This led to the establishment of Fort Mackinac on the island by the British during the American Revolutionary War. It was the site of two battles during the War of 1812.”

What better testimony is there as to where the outdoors heritage we Yoopers share originated? Trapping has set the standard in wildlife management for conservative uses of our many furbearing species. The National Trapper’s Association (NTA) simple definition of “Conservation” is Wise-use”.

The NTA was initiated in 1957 when a small group of trappers met in the U.P. of Michigan to form a defense against legislative bills designed to ban the annual harvest of furbearers and predators or prevent the tools necessary to accomplish beneficial wildlife management objectives. The “National Trapper’s Association of America” was declared operational on Jan. 1, 1959, and “of America” was dropped from the name when incorporation occurred in February 1969. Today 51 state trapping affiliates make up the core of the national organization representing thousands of fur harvesters from every portion of the country.

Now, over a half century later, the NTA plays a significant role in not only maintaining the standards of conservation, they are at the forefront of protecting our outdoors heritage that includes hunting and fishing. While the responsible use of public resources for consumptions and utilization is a privilege, once an individual obtains license to participate, it then becomes a right and the NTA stands solid along side other entities like the National Rifle Association (NRA) that defends our Second Amendment rights to bear arms and Safari Club International (SCI) that defends our rights to hunt.

The NTA and affiliate organizations, like the U.P. Trappers Association (UPTA), work at local levels with in their respective states and employ standards developed through the national to set regulations. The science and technological advancements to protect non-game wildlife from incidental catches by trappers is proof positive that the sport is good for nature.

Unfortunately, those who want to stop any form of wildlife harvest will use whatever they can get their hands on to discredit trapping. They use the financial resources achieved from unsuspecting donors to manipulate thinking and convey a negative image of trapping via all sorts of media. While the NTA is focussed on conservation, they now realize that reporting the injustices from the antis needs attention too.

As an example, Wild Earth Guardians sued the US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) in Montana District Court arguing that the USFWS has not appropriately considered the environmental impacts of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) furbearer export program pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The lawsuit specifically references export of bobcat, lynx, river otter, gray wolves, and brown bears. The USFWS had previously concluded that the CITES export program was categorically excluded from the NEPA review. As part of a stay agreement issued by the Court, the USFWS agreed to prepare an Environmental Assessment (EA) on the CITES export program for furbearers, solicit comments through the Federal Register, issue a final analysis and decision, confer with the Plaintiffs, and then file a report to the Court asking the complaint be either dismissed or continued. It is pretty sophisticated and requires a high level expertise that only the NTA can provide.

It’s not all business either.

The enjoyment of being outdoors and trapping has been celebrated for 59 years through the NTA Convention. It is absolutely appropriate that the event once again will come home to the U.P. July 26-28, 2018 on the U.P. State Fairgrounds in Escanaba.

There will be hundreds of sporting, trapping, hunting, fishing equipment dealers, tailgaters and others will be on hand. Many food vendors featuring great local and U.P. cuisine will be on the grounds as well. This family friendly event includes lots of activities for all members of the family. Raffles, kid’s games and free youngster’s fishing at the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) Pocket Park along with other activities will keep all entertained.

There will also be educational presentations throughout the convention. Most of the scheduled speakers are very accomplished professional trappers and include television celebrities like Marty Meierotto and family from the History Channel’s Mountain Man program and Tom Miranda. Both have ties back to the U.P.

The cost per day is $10 or $20 for the entire event. NTA membership is required to attend the seminars. A one year membership is only $30 and a solid investment to learn more of what really happens in conservation and offer support at the national level.

The event is expected to bring in nearly 10,000 people to the area and every available indoor vendor space is sold out. You can be assured the money you spend will be put to good use as we all stand together in our pledge as Americans to save and faithfully defend from the waste of our natural resources.

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Tim Kobasic is the outdoors editor for KMB Broadcasting and host/producer for Tails & Trails Outdoor Radio, aired on six radio stations over three networks, Charter Communications cable and the Internet on Saturday mornings.

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