CHANGING TRAPPING REGULATIONS

by Albert Roura / Sábado, 29 noviembre 2014 / Published in TRAPPING REGULATIONS

CHANGING TRAPPING REGULATIONS

Changing Trapping Regulations
By Chris A. Berson
     A common conversation piece among trappers is talk about regulations that they feel should be changed in their state.  The wanted regulation changes can be changes in limits on certain species, increases in the types of equipment that can be used, and other changes of all sorts.  Beyond the conversation of wants, how would one go about changing laws in their state?  What have others done to affect changes?  Are there unintended consequences?  This past summer I explored these very topics.
     For myself, my thoughts on changing regulations began while contemplating the 20 trap limit and the forty raccoon limit in my home state of Oklahoma.  After talking with members of my state’s two trapping organizations several things became clear, one being that laws and regulations written many decades ago were going to be hard to change. Also, understanding the legal structure of the various governing bodies was going to be important. One word also kept entering the conversations of why change is difficult, “houndsmen.”
     To get changes made, the first step is to contact your state’s wildlife department.  Often you can learn from there who you will need to contact or which governing body or committee you will need to speak with.  Once you contact the specified person(s), you will either of had a receptive conversation with sound advice or a conversation where you were dismissed with no real attainable hope for action.  Where does one go from there if you were blown off?
     Some I had a chance to speak with advocate going to their state’s legislature to get action.  Afterall, if the state’s wildlife department is the percieved problem then go above or around them.  Talking with the President of the Fur Takers of Oklahoma , Reginald Murray, he explained why this is not the ideal route to take.  One scenario he explained is that when you contact your legislator, you don’t really know who you are talking to and where they stand on trapping.  You could possibly put trapping on the radar in a negative way.  Mr. Murray advocates working with the state’s wildlife department when possible.
     The concept of “staying off the radar” was also raised recently in conversations I had with members of the Georgia Trappers Association.  During this past summer there was some discussion as to whether the GTA would support a proposal to allow cable restraints for species other than beaver.  This was not  going to be a vote on if the GTA would push for change, just on whether they would support any proposals as other organizations had already done. I spoke with both sides of the proposal as the debate got heated.
     Speaking with Tim Ivey, he explained that the state’s trappers needed the cable restraints as an added tool to help manage Georgia’s coyote population.  He felt that some of the leadership of the GTA was against the change due to them being “houndsmen” with a separate agenda from trappers.  He explained that in his opinion they were not looking at the science and data relating to cable restraints. His solution was to promote candidates for leadership positions in the GTA who would support backing expanded use of cable restraints. He also has requested to attend meetings that are held by his state’s wildlife department concerning cable restraints independent of the GTA.  He hopes that scientific data will prevail and will continue to push for change even if his state’s trapping organization will not.
     Speaking with the other side of the Georgia cable restraint debate I got in touch with Rusty Johnson, FTA Director for the GTA.  He mentioned that he felt adding cable restraints would bring bad press to the state’s trappers. Mr. Johnson said this push for expanded use is mostly being done by ADC trappers who are just greedy and that their mistakes and poor judgement would affect regular fur trappers.  He foresaw coyotes hanging from fences as locals drove by looking on in horror because many trappers are irreresponsible and use poor judgement.  He contends that these actions would put Georgia trappers “on the radar.”  His main point is that public appearance is everything and that trappers can accomplish their goals with the tools currently allowed.
     During the convention held in October by the GTA, a call to back expanded use of cable restraints was defeated.  The candidates who did not want the expanded use were retained in office and the candidates who wanted change were defeated.  So where do they go from here?  In some states this has led to the creation of a second trapping organization.  So far in Georgia this has not happened. One thing trappers who want the change can do is work with the state wildlife department and to get active in organizations who support the change.
     Coming full circle, what can you do to change trapping regulations in your state?  There is no single perfect answer.  Learn your state’s legal structure concerning trapping regulations.  If you don’t understand the “why’s” then how can you begin to change it.  A good starting point is with your state’s trapping organizations. They are full of men and women who have the history of working at changing regulations.  Networking with like-minded individuals is your most valuable assett.  Above all else, do not give up trying to create a better regulations.
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