Unless you've been insulated from all media contact over the past year we should all be aware of the fact that trappers have been unjustly in their cross-hairs for awhile and the situation is unlikely to change dramatically in the immediate future.
It's been a challenging year for trappers across the nation. Fur prices have dropped significantly for most species and coupled with serious challenges ranging from wolf re-listing and bills attempting to ban body-gripping traps from the National Refuge System at the federal level to over-the-top bills introduced at the Minnesota legislature to restrict practical trapping to the point of the ridiculous, it is indeed tempting to consider a permanent severing of all modern media from our lives and moving somewhere deep in Alaska's interior to spend the rest of our lives as practical modern day hermits delightfully insulated from the outside world.
For better or worse, such an decision is neither practical nor ethically responsible for those that truly care about the sport of trapping to simply hide from the modern world and hope that it will simply leave us alone to live our lives in peace.
In time fur prices will rebound to more acceptable returns for our effort and the demonization of trappers and trapping will eventually fall to the wayside replaced by whatever comes down the pike to spark media interest. But even today there is a bright side. As things now currently stand, it appears that there will be no additional laws to further restrict trapping in Minnesota this legislative session in spite of tenacious effort to do so by special interest groups that are at the core anti trapping advocates. By all indications trappers have won yet another round in this ongoing battle although it required tremendous effort and resolve to accomplish. I must refrain from revealing specifics on how this feat was attained in public particularly in print media as those that oppose us regularly scour anything published in an attempt to twist our words and discredit us. Rest assured that trapping here in Minnesota is supported and vigorously defended by your MTA although our work is not always readily visible to the membership at large.
Our website will be undergoing some modifications in preparation of next year's legislative session in order to assist members in keeping abreast of legislative bills that could potentially be detrimental to our sport. It is an extremely daunting task to simultaneously keep track of hearings/meeting and bill readings not to mention insuring that trapper interest's are represented while at the same time sharing those developments with the general membership but MTA leadership has pledged to work at improving the speed at which general information regarding bills is provided for the members.
For obvious reasons, some sensitive information must remain confined to the Board level of the Association in order to prevent distribution to the general public but personal contact with your elected officials remains the most practical and effective means to insure your interests are understood and supported.. Members are always encouraged to maintain contact with their state senators and representatives concerning any pending bills that would affect trapping as well as expressing appreciation to those that continue to support us. Working together both as individuals and as an Association, trappers must continue to remain active in the political process. In addition to these vital relationships, maintaining strong relationships with other sporting organizations and being responsive to addressing concerns they may have is also crucial. This approach produces far more lasting "fruit" than endless point/counterpoint arguments on the validity of modern trapping in print media.
On to lighter fare.
Convention time is fast approaching and will be held at the Beltrami County Fairgrounds August 14-16 and hosted by Dallas Erickson and Danny Swedberg and the folks from District 2. As always I encourage those that plan on staying offsite in motels to make reservations in the Bemidji area ASAP. In addition to the usual festivities that define our conventions, some serious issues must also be decided this August as well. Two proposed MTA Bylaw changes are before the membership to vote on and are explained in Legal Counsel Gary Leistico's column. Official ballots are enclosed in this issue of the Newsletter. In order to insure that the opportunity is extended to the greatest number of members to cast a ballot on policy issues, a mail in provision is offered for the membership's consideration. If this is supported by the membership, the Non Resident Trapping Proposal offered by District 8 and approved by the majority of the Board will be brought directly to the membership at the Winter General Membership Meeting this January 9, 2016 at the East Central School in Askov for an official vote. While on the subject of the WGMM otter/bobcat fur tagging will not be offered this winter as our event is scheduled later than in years past. So please remember to make arrangements to have your pelts tagged at the end of the season as required by law.
This is also an election year and I encourage all members to take the time to cast a ballot for their candidate of choice in Bemidji. This is your Association so please take part in electing your leadership.
I'd also encourage those interested in applying for one of two MTA College Scholarships offered this year that will be decided at the convention as well. Field Training Opportunities will be made available once again at this year's convention for interested Trapper Education students seeking certification requirements. In addition, Brian Fischer will be offering something new for prospective trappers outside the Program he's titled Beginner Trapper Connection. Anticipate a fresh new approach with Fish's contagious enthusiasm. The Sadie Hawkin's Race continues to draw more participants and crowds and I'm pleased to announce that Dave Bauer has agreed to coordinate this year's event.
I'd also like to make a final attempt at locating the owner of a set of keys found at the Barnum convention and turned in at the MTA booth. There are at least two Ford keys along with several door and padlock keys in the set that were apparently attached to a belt clip or similar previously. If they might be yours, please contact me at your convenience.
Keep Your Skinning Knives Sharp,