Mostly Trapping

Hunting and trapping are key to healthy wildlife management
Jan 27, 2020 10:17 ET

(Reprinted from above link)

How important are hunting and trapping? Some folks, mostly those far removed from nature, feel these activities are barbarous and cruel. Unfortunately those folks don't realize how important hunting and trapping are to the health and management of wildlife.

Hunters understand this but trappers probably understand more so, as they are dealing with more wildlife, know it on a more personal basis and put more time into the sport. Both groups do their utmost to be ethical and conservationist.

Sure, there are always a few who do not follow the rules and have no ethics in anything they do. You know the type. You see them every day on our roads, passing you in a dangerous “No Passing Zone,” flying by as you're going the speed limit, tailgating, et cetera.

No hunter or trapper wants to see any wildlife suffer and they do their best to prevent it. The good hunter refrains from taking poor shots, spends time to recover game, takes no more than he is allowed, keeps firearm safety in mind and is mindful of the image he is projecting to the public. The trapper sets his traps to cause the least amount of pain to the animal (downing methods for animals using waterways, killer-type traps on land set for instant death, short fasteners so the animal can not jump around, checking his traps every day, sometimes twice) and does not set his traps where domestic animals could get inside them.

Hunting is important to wildlife management, as it prevents populations from escalating over the holding capacity of the environment. Deer are a good example. To be honest, our deer populations are getting out of control and this is causing problems now and will more so in the future. Ask any farmer about deer damage to crops and you will probably get a real ear full. Ask anyone who has a lot of nice shrubbery and flowers around their home and you will find some very unhappy folks. And what about all the collisions with vehicles? People have been killed in these collisions and the encounters with deer have not helped our vehicle insurance rates.

There is another problem with our overpopulated deer herd: Disease. For a number of years, the state Department of Environmental Conservation has been monitoring harvested deer for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), a serious, contagious neurological disease affecting deer that can be transmitted to humans. Right now Pennsylvania has a serious problem with CWD and it is only a matter of time before it shows up here, if our herd keeps growing. Hunters are playing an important part in not only trying to keep the deer population in check but also helping with CWD monitoring.

Something new that's related to deer (and mice) is showing up in western New York and that's Lyme disease. This is an infection caused by a type of bacterium called a spirochete that is carried by deer ticks. An infected tick can transmit this to humans and animals that it bites. Lyme disease has already become a serious problem in some parts of eastern New York and this past summer there were quite a few cases in this area. What is bad about this disease is that the tick is much smaller than a dog tick, so it is not easily noticed and the symptoms of infection resemble the flu and other common aliments. Thus it is often overlooked and can eventually lead to serious health issues, such as extreme arthritis, if left untreated.

So here again, we see that deer hunting is more than just a sport, it's also a method of controlling deer numbers and the problems that they can cause.

Same goes for the trapper. His trapping of raccoon and skunk can help control rabies. The trapping of beaver can prevent serious flooding and tree damage. The trapping of fox and coyote can help prevent the spread of mange.

Muskrats can be helpful in controlling aquatic vegetation in marshes, until they get overpopulated, and then they can destroy marshes. This is where the trapper comes in. He's a conservationist, too, often very careful to leave breeding stock in the area where he is trapping so that there will be animals for the next season.

Personally, I think trappers have a better understanding of how nature works than most hunters and they often are more conservation-minded.

With that said, both hunters and trappers are a big part of healthy wildlife existence — and sometimes they don't get the respect that they should.

Doug Domedion, outdoorsman and nature photographer, resides in Medina. Contact him at (585) 798-4022 or .