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A Teachable Moment in Maryland

Legislation was introduced in Maryland earlier this year that would have effectively banned trapping in Montgomery County, MD.  The bill did pass through both the House and Senate committees but did not receive the full vote of the Senate, thankfully.  Although Maryland trappers breathed a sign of relief, this should be a teachable moment for all state trapping organizations.  If the anti-trapping crowd carries enough weight to bring up such baseless proposals to the floor of the Maryland legislature, you can bet they are devising plans to try again and also target other states.  Trappers are such a small community that we can no longer afford to be silent and take our way of life for granted.  Please, get involved and actively support our national and state associations.

On the bright side, the incident in Maryland prompted some good exposure of the facts by the Maryland Fur Trappers Association.  From their press release earlier this year:
     "Whenever and wherever anti-trapping legislation is introduced on a municipal or larger statewide scale, the goal is always to ban the primary tool of the trade, the so-called “leghold” trap. This misnomer refers to the “live-hold foot trap” used predominately to hold land-based furbearers without injury in case the captured animal need to be released.
     For years, animal activists have portrayed the tradition and heritage of fur trapping as a cruel, primitive craft that indiscriminately targets any unwitting creature, including domestic pets that happen to step into the waiting jaws of a bone-crushing “leghold trap” only to suffer anguishing torment until killed by the brutish trapper. Nothing could be further from the truth.
     In fact, the use of the humane “live-hold foot trap” is the preferred tool of trappers for the very reason activists decry its use. Any non-targeted animals can be and are routinely released unharmed. In addition, the live-hold foot trap is used in the propagation of threatened species including the Canada lynx and the red and grey wolf. In Maryland, this method has been used in the reintroduction of the river otter with much success. On a larger scale, the live-hold foot trap is used to protect nesting waterfowl and endangered sea turtle eggs from ravaging predators.
     Time and time again during legislative hearings, the typical live-hold foot trap used for most furbearers has been sprung on the hand or finger of a trapper to demonstrate the strength of the device. No pro-trappers were ever injured during the demonstration."  (link)
And an excellent quote by Ron Leggett, the president of Maryland Fur Trappers, Inc.:
“It’s easy for opponents of fur trapping to advance an emotional plea against the practice. The benefits of fur trapping are misunderstood by many in the modern age. Most Marylanders are unaware of the protections afforded to them by trappers and wildlife control agents.  Detractors refuse to consider the facts about trapping and its methods and wage unrelenting campaigns using 'compassionate' messages, with no real proof to back up their claims, to garner support from the uninformed majority of urbanized citizens.” (link)
Although the legislation failed, the Maryland Fur Trapper's Association is not ready to rest on their laurels and celebrate.  Their website has a warning that all of us would do well to heed:
"So, before the back slapping begins, a moment should be spent thinking about how fortunate the MFTI is to have dodged the bullet in this legislative session and to start planning now for time off and a cohesive, coherent offense for next session. The skirmish for now has been won, but the war is far from over. The enemy has all year to plan their next offensive which they will launch.  Money will be raised; meetings will be attended; alliances will be forged; politicians will be coddled and informed. The questions remain:  will the MFTI put as much effort into saving trapping as its opponents will spend trying to destroy trapping? Will the MFTI rise to face the challenge or again let others stand in for them? Will the trappers in Maryland become proactive or reactive - on the offense or on the defense?  It's your decision." (link)

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