At long last it appears that spring has arrived across most of the state! (May 7, 2014) With the fishing opener coming up this weekend, it is doubtful that many lakes will be fully open by this time-Happy Mother's Day indeed!
It was an extremely long winter and deep snows coupled with relentless cold weather really suppressed the catch in many areas of the State. The bobcat catch alone was reduced by 800 or so.
The MN legislative session is drawing to a close shortly and by all indications, bills that could negatively affect trapping haven't emerged from their respective chambers or committees to become law. Although last minute shenanigans are not completely out of the question at this late date, for now things seem relatively safe.
One bill in particular House File HF 3196 authored by Rep. Peter Fischer DFL (and Dist. 43A -Maplewood, Rep. Yvonne Selcer DFL Dist. 48A- Minnetonka, Rep Paul Rosenthal DFL 49B- Edina, Rep. Linda Slocum DFL 50A- Richfield) would've eliminated snaring for all species in one full swoop.
Description: Wolf trapping prohibited, penalty for violations related to wolves increased, wolf baiting prohibited, and the taking of wild animals with snares prohibited.
Without a doubt, "howlers" and others seeking to eliminate the wolf harvest here in Minnesota will continue to pose a substantial threat that we must take very seriously.
Although wolf trapping may not be a personal priority for many trappers in our State, the public's focus on wolf trapping and snaring can have a dramatic effect on general trapping as well and anti trapping forces will utilize any means necessary to further their agenda to eventually eliminate our sport entirely. This issue has far reaching implications across the entire nation and all trappers should be actively fighting against it. Please make a conscious effort to personally contact your legislators to defend what we hold dear. Those that oppose us don't hesitate to have their voices heard.
With elections fast approaching for State leadership positions, it remains vital that trappers stay connected to the process and support those candidates that support us. Trappers can no longer remain on the sidelines hoping for the best. We must maintain both a visual and auditory presence before our elected officials to remain relevant. Membership roles need to further increase to carry additional clout at the legislature. Please make non members aware of the battles that continue to lie ahead and encourage them to join us.
Scholarship applications must be in Secretary's hands by July 1st to be considered for this year's disbursements. All are encouraged to apply but be certain to follow directions on application carefully as missing information and unanswered questions can make a substantial difference in the final evaluation of the student's application. Details matter a great deal with the ultimate choice of scholarship recipients. Applications are available from the Secretary or Education Coordinator and is printed in the newsletter on page 54.
Our 2014 summer convention will be held in Barnum on the first week of August this year (August 1-3). District One is hosting this year's event and as always the hard work and dedication of MTA members will assure another successful event. Although District One will be handling the lion's share of the duties, individual districts across the State will be assigned a portion as well. Volunteers are necessary and much appreciated to insure the quality conventions our membership has come to expect.
Although the Barnum Convention is still months away, preparations must be made for 2015 as well. If you'd like your district to bid on hosting MTA's 2015 convention, please see your district leadership about preparing a bid for your site. A 2015 convention site will have to be chosen soon and bids need to be prepared for the Board of Directors Meeting Thursday July 31 in Barnum so if you're interested, preparation time is limited. A call to your local chamber of commerce may be a step in the right direction. The Board looks forward to reviewing prospective convention locations so please do your part for your neck of the woods.
As most are aware, each year at our conventions we take the time to recognize outstanding individuals within our organization for their contribution to our Association and the sport of fur trapping. Now is the time to put some thought into nominating worthy individuals for this recognition. Nominations for 2014 Trapper of the Year, Lady Trapper of the Year and Junior Trapper of the Year are encouraged. Please have these nominations to me prior to July 28th in order to have your nominations considered by the membership. As president/education director, I also take pride in honoring one individual annually for the President's Education Award. Although I personally make the final selection, I encourage members to nominate individuals that have gone far beyond what is required in the interest of the next generation. Please feel free to pass on the names and credentials of individuals that you feel are worthy of this special honor.
Field Training at Convention
This year we'll be offering something new for those who are legally required to obtain a trapper certification in order to purchase their MN trapping licenses. Since our conventions provide such a unique opportunity to demonstrate proper and effective trapping techniques, fur handling etc. by experts, we're offering the opportunity for field training certification to be held at the convention this year.
Field training is a requirement for all trapper certification and since anticipation is generally highest around convention time why not make the most of it? Due to scheduling conflicts with school, sports, church and life in general, it is very difficult for some young people to find the time to complete a traditional sit down trapper education course and field day requirement.
By combining the online opportunity to complete the exam portion in advance www.mntrappers.org and the field training at the convention, we can provide these necessary opportunities for certification to these young people as well.
The process will be straight forward. Interested parties will be provided with a sign off sheet when they request one at the MTA table. A demo presentation list will be included with all qualifying demos identified. Students will choose from the list which they will attend to fulfill the stated requirements. Each qualifying demonstration presenter will sign in the slot identified. Youth water and land demos are required along with choices from the rest available.
In addition, pelting/fur handling demos from the Auction houses will have to be attended as well. The final requirement will be for the student to visit the DNR Enforcement booth on site and pose a series of provided questions to the officers present and write down the answers on the sheet. Before leaving the booth they would also be provided with a copy of the MN Hunting and Trapping Regulations Handbook. Sign off sheets are required to be turned in at the MTA Booth or sent to the Education coordinator after the fact. Information on this opportunity will also be available on website.
September is Trapper Education Month
Demand for trapper certifications continue to grow and in response I'm asking certified trapping instructors to seriously consider offering trapper education opportunities in September whenever practical. Although instructors are welcome to offer classes whenever they have the time, September classes traditionally have the greatest attendance in the State overall. If you're interested in becoming a certified instructor to host a class please contact me or review the information available on website.www.mntrappers.org. A reminder that instructor certification is not currently a requirement for Field Training Instructors and that many trappers feel more comfortable providing this type of training as opposed to the traditional classroom setting. If you're interested in either opportunity, please contact me.
Certified Instructor List
It has come to my attention that some instructors no longer are interested in participating. If that is the case, please let me know and I'll have your information removed from website listing. All instructors are encouraged to review their information on website for accuracy and draw my attention to any corrections that need to be made.
Body Gripper Release Kits
Also referred to as zip tie kits informally continue to have a more and more positive effect on the public and other user groups in particular. All MTA district leadership have been provided a batch for distribution and members are encouraged to become familiar with them. Response has been tremendous with trappers associations all across the country contacting me seeking permission to produce and distribute them in their home states.
Jim Wallner of Grand Marias and Brian Clausen of Faribault have both volunteered to serve as go-to people in expanding our presence at other outdoor group's venues and fostering stronger alliances with fellow user groups. Please contact either gentlemen if you have news of sporting events that trappers should be represented at. In addition, Brian has offered his expertise in creating professional looking brochures to get the word out on all that MTA is accomplishing and the vital role Minnesota trappers play in everything from wildlife management to marten habitat projects.
The Board looks forward to working with both men in order to project a positive presence in the public eye. Jim can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 651-402-8594. Brian can be reached at 507-330-1539 or email@example.com . Please keep in mind that both men are married volunteers raising families and holding down jobs therefore telephone calls are undesirable after 9:00 pm if they can possibly be avoided.
Fair/ Education Materials
I now have a substantial supply of brochures, handouts and other education materials available for the upcoming fair season. If you will be attending fairs, sport shows etc. representing MTA please contact Linda or I as soon as you can to insure insurance certificates or other necessary paperwork can be completed in time for your event. If deposits are also in order it is even more important that the paperwork is done in a timely fashion.
Keeping our sport in a positive public light is essential now more than ever and I thank those members that step up year after year to insure that.
MTA Gun Raffle
One final word on the importance of member participation in our annual gun raffle. Every education endeavor we participate in from the Minnesota Trapper Education Program, MTA Scholarships to fair booths and other public appearances rely on the funding generated from our Raffle through the hardworking volunteers of our Association.
Please take advantage of every opportunity to share the importance of our work with others by selling your tickets this year.
Keep your skinning knives sharp,