February 5, 2023

Maine Trappers And Sportsman Groups Won't Fight Bear Trapping Changes

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The Maine Trappers Association, The Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine and others told members of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Game‘s advisory council that they will not fight against the new proposals to outlaw steel-jawed leg hold traps and limit the number of traps to one, down from two.

Kevin Miller, Bangor Daily News.

Representatives of the Maine Trappers Association and the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine told DIF&W’s advisory council on Wednesday that the one-trap limit is acceptable. But they questioned the need to ban all steel-jawed traps, arguing that many modern foothold traps are just as effective and humane as the more common cable foot snare traps.

Nonetheless, Skip Trask with the trappers’ group acknowledged that old, steel-jawed traps now considered unsuitable and inhumane for bear trapping are still legal in Maine.

Trask told members of the advisory council that he believes very few of these “obsolete” and “archaic” traps are still in use. Instead, most antique steel-jawed traps are kept around as collectors’ items, he said.

But Trask accused animal activists of “deceiving” the public into believing they are commonly used by Maine’s trapping community. As a result, the organization has agreed not to fight the proposed ban on foothold traps in hopes that DIF&W will eventually legalize modern foothold traps that are deemed safe, effective and humane.

The Maine Trappers Association would support language outlawing the use of obsolete, steel-jawed traps, he said.

Trask said that the group’s leaders recognized that if the issue were put to a public referendum or a vote in the full Legislature, trappers could lose the right to trap bears at all.

Roland Martin, Commissioner for MDIFW, has been accused by some of playing politics with the animal rights groups in order to appease them and give them what they want. He has denied that but at Wednesday’s meeting he had this to say.

At Wednesday’s meeting, Martin rejected statements that the proposal was a political move meant to appease anti-trapping groups. Martin said the recommendation is based on DIF&W’s best information. He added, however, that something needs to be done.

“We’ve got to send a message out there,” Martin said.

And exactly what does that mean? What’s the message? Is he saying by giving in to these groups we welcome more opposition? Is he saying MDIFW is willing to give in to your wants? Or is he saying that MDIFW is on top of this and is going to make changes with or without their influence? That’s a pretty open-ended statement to make without further clarification.

I wonder if he had more to say about that?

Tom Remington