Georgia's trapping community on the rise again

Sunday, Sept. 1, 2013 10:57 PM
Last updated Monday, Sept. 2, 2013 2:04 AM
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APPLING — A decade ago, professional trapper Dan Eaton feared his craft was lapsing into obscurity.

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Dan Eaton prepares for trapping season by replacing trip pans on his traps. Eaton, who owns CSRA Trapping Service, said higher fur prices and greater demand for nuisance trapping is boosting interest in the trade.  TODD BENNETT/STAFF
TODD BENNETT/STAFF
Dan Eaton prepares for trapping season by replacing trip pans on his traps. Eaton, who owns CSRA Trapping Service, said higher fur prices and greater demand for nuisance trapping is boosting interest in the trade.

Today, he’s not so sure.

“It’s definitely on the rise again,” said Eaton, a host for the Georgia Trap­pers Association’s 2013 convention in Columbia County next month.

Fur prices, he said, have improved – and demand for nuisance trapping has increased rapidly.

Georgia’s resurgent trapping industry can be documented by a gradual but sustainable increase in the number of licenses sold each year by the state’s Department of Natural Resources.

Though license sales peaked at nearly 3,500 in the 1970s, the number declined to just 440 by 1998 because of declining interest and low fur prices.

Since then, the number of licenses has increased almost every year, totaling 1,129 last year, according to state officials.

Greg Waters, a senior wildlife biologist and coordinator of the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division’s furbearer and trapping program, said several factors are responsible for the growing interest.

“One is that trapping is a new hobby for some people that have heard or read about it and want to try it,” he said. “For the past several years we have around 20 to 22 percent new, first-time trappers buying a trapping license.”

Georgia’s legalization of hunting deer over bait in some areas might also play a role.

“Now that it is legal to put out bait for deer for hunting purposes, they realize that raccoons and opossums may be eating a good bit of the bait and they want to reduce their loss,” Waters said.

Eaton, who owns CSRA Trapping Service, said part of the increase is also tied to licenses for nuisance animal trappers. Traditional trapping, which involves running trap lines during the state’s December-through-February furbearer season, is also on the rise.

“That would be our busiest time,” he said. “We trap fox, coyote, otter, muskrat – all the furbearers.”

Much of the rest of the year is spent maintaining traps and handling nuisance calls – everything from attic squirrels to problem alligators.
Coyotes, which have
gained new notoriety after studies documenting their impact on whitetail fawn mortality, have also spurred new interest in trapping.

“The thing with coyotes is that a lot of folks are trying to trap them on their own,” Eaton said. “Sometimes they are doing more educating than trapping.”

As a species, coyotes are among the most challenging to trap because of their wariness, intelligence and keen sense of smell.

Coyotes don’t have particularly valuable fur, but they can be a revenue source for trappers who are often paid to remove them.

Eaton learned his craft as a child growing up in southern Illinois, where his uncle was an expert trapper who shared his expertise – and his secrets.

“That’s where I got the formulas for a lot of my lures,” he said, showing rows of jars containing varied mixtures of animal glands, droppings and other smelly concoctions used to entice his quarry.

This year’s Georgia Trap­pers Association convention, to be held Sept. 14-15 at the Columbia County Fair­grounds, will be the group’s 32nd annual event – and attendance is expected to be between 350 and 500.

“So far we know we’ll have people from Alabama, Flor­ida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee and Kentucky,” Eaton said.

Activities include workshops and demonstrations, auctions and raffles, vendors with traps, lures and equipment and many other activities suitable for all ages. The event is open to the public, with an admission charge of $5.

Though it is unlikely trapping will ever return to its heyday, Eaton is delighted to see a tradition kept alive.

The key, he said, is to share knowledge with the younger generation and encourage their interest in the outdoors.

“Kids are the future for hunting, trapping, fishing,” he said. “If you don’t get them involved, trapping is going to die.”

GEORGIA LICENSE SALES
YEARSALES
1998440
1999489
2000497
2001501
2002546
2003539
2004501
2005569
2006648
2007730
2008739
2009804
2010859
2011982
20121,129
*2013 718

*Through June

Source: Georgia Department of Natural Resources

LEARN MORE

See Georgia’s trapping regulations at www.georgiawildlife.com/trapping; get more information about the Georgia Trappers Association and 2013 convention at www.gatrappersassoc.com.

Comments (6) Add comment
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seenitB4
97787
Points
seenitB4 09/02/13 - 07:52 am
3
1
Like an outdoor type of guy.

It takes a real man to trap....

CabisKhan
164
Points
CabisKhan 09/02/13 - 07:53 am
2
0
I dunno. I have live trapped

I dunno. I have live trapped nuisance animals and then dispatched them quickly or relocated. but the leg trapping makes me feel uneasy.

itsanotherday1
48346
Points
itsanotherday1 09/02/13 - 11:41 am
0
3
Civilized people should be ashamed.

Nuisance trapping is a needed and necessary thing, but fur trapping is an abomination. I do not think moral people should kill for pure sport or to put a coat on their back when synthetics can do the same job.
Trust me, I have no reservations about consuming wildlife for sustenance, but I have a very low tolerance for those who don't respect the animal life they take as a matter of convenience and some kind of chest thumping measure of their manhood.

LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT ME! I ambushed this deer from 200 yards with a high powered rifle and long range scope! Yea right..... BIG man you are!

Rob Pavey
552
Points
Rob Pavey 09/02/13 - 08:33 pm
4
0
'chest thumping measure of their manhood?'

Ashamed? Wow, I'm not sure how you got that from our story - but some of the most respectful and informed conservationists I know are trappers and hunters. Remember also that the folks who buy firearms, ammunition and fishing and hunting licenses are the ones who support and finance the wildlife management programs and public lands that everyone gets to enjoy.

JRC2024
10501
Points
JRC2024 09/02/13 - 09:27 pm
0
0
Hunting with a rifle kills

Hunting with a rifle kills quickly most of the time but leg trapping keeps the animal in pain and I personally think that is awful.

bug_doctor
4
Points
bug_doctor 09/03/13 - 06:50 am
1
0
Morals? Ethics?

The people who protest the loudest are complicit in hundreds, if not thousands, of long and painful animal deaths - unnecessary animal deaths - every year. It's not a matter of morals or ethics, it's simple personal preference. People who scream and whine and point at others aren't in it for the animals, they're in it for some false sense of ethical superiority. They seem to come out of the woodwork at any mention of trapping, but they are harmless and fairly predictable.

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