Minnesota Trappers Association
 President's Report

Shawn Johnson
6122 McQuade Rd
Duluth, MN  55804
(218) 525-4970


Greetings All,

Since this will be the first President's Report since the Association left Trapper and Predator Caller I've duplicated the bulk of the material that will appear in the March issue of Trapper's Post to bring everyone up to speed on recent developments.  Welcome to Trapper's Post!

This new avenue for keeping our membership informed will no doubt take some getting used to on all ends but I'm encouraged by all the positive feedback from the membership thus far. Be certain to keep up with the Newsletter magazine and if you have access, the MTA website as well www.mntrappers.org to stay informed. As always, feel free to contact any MTA officers if you have questions/concerns that you'd like to be answered directly as subscription termination dates with TPC will vary between members. Please contact Mitzi if you have specific questions regarding your remaining subscription with TPC.

TPC will no doubt send subscription renewal notices to everyone regardless when that time arrives if you'd like to continue receiving that publication but TPC is no longer affiliated with MTA memberships directly.

$$$$$$$ - Fur prices seem to dominate every conversation trappers are having now a days and mixed signals are being circulated at this point (January 15th) most seem to suggest that there will be downward adjustments in comparison to last season's high returns. As to be expected, competition in the woods and waters accelerated a bit across most of the state substantially in some areas. We're forced to accept both the positive and negative with a substantial upswing in international fur markets. Winter that arrived with deep snows and severe cold hampered trapping efforts in many areas of the state and the impression left on most was that the harvest was down a bit overall. Muskrats are becoming increasingly difficult to find in any number as has been the case even prior to the dramatic upswing in fur demand.

Anti Trapping - Perhaps it's no coincidence that anti trapping activities have become more visible as well. The MTA continues to strengthen alliances with other sporting groups and elected officials to ensure that the emotional propaganda distributed by some anti trapping groups does not go uncontested. It is crucial that we maintain a positive relationship with our brothers and sisters in the outdoor community specifically as anti trapping groups and individuals continue to employ the divide and conquer strategy.   If you can volunteer some of your time to attend one of these events to act as an advocate for trapping, we'd be happy to assist you.

Part of our strategy in combating some of this anti propaganda is to be a visible presence at sport shows and other gatherings of outdoor minded individuals in order to promote a realistic and accurate portrayal of trappers and trapping.

If you're aware of an event/meeting that you think trappers should be represented at or would be interested in manning an information booth, please don't hesitate to contact me, send me the information electronically, by mail or simply pick up the telephone. Alerting your district representatives in MTA is always a move in the right direction as well.

Bodygripper Release Kits - Thanks to an innovative approach by members of the Iowa Trappers Association that attending last year’s Pheasant Fest to create a simple means for non-trappers to compress the springs on a bodygripping trap in the case of an accident, the zip tie method was born.  With Brian Clausen from Faribault and District 8 Director Brad Wobbrock taking the lead initially from that point, (and personally paying for the materials necessary to put this large batch together), the first Bodygripper Release Kits were produced. 

In short the method employs the use of two of the industry's strongest zip ties (cable ties) to quickly compress the springs of a body gripper with minimal strength necessary. Since that time MTA has produced thousands of these simple kits to distribute to concerned sportsmen at our expense.

The response from the sporting community here in Minnesota has been tremendously positive and inquiries have been increasing from other state trappers associations across the country as well. All eight district directors now have a number of these on hand for distribution and plans to produce additional kits for distribution are in the works as well.

The Minnesota Forest Zone Trappers Association partnering with Women Hunting and Fishing in All Seasons to produce Trapping Education Non-Targeted Animals (Avoiding Conflicts) to help allay the fears of some concerned with their dogs encountering traps.  This is a well put together production that provides useful information on trapping in general and specific demonstrations on how to release an animal accidently caught. MFZTA ought to be commended for participating in this worthwhile endeavor.

Contact Ray Sogard MFZTA's General Organizer (218) 969- 3425 for additional information on viewing or obtaining this valuable resource. 

Trapper Education Program - Now more than ever with higher fur prices and subsequently greater numbers of less experienced trappers in the field, it is essential that we remain vigilant in guiding young trappers in legal and ethical participation in our sport and demanding that same high standards of ourselves. Interest in trapper certifications continue to mushroom no doubt at least partially in response to favorable fur prices. MTA has now certified 3,293 graduates of the Trapper Education Program in four short years thanks due to the efforts of our volunteer trapping instructors and interest continues to climb with online students in the last eighteen months alone numbering 1351 students in total. Trapper Education Instructors are needed to keep up with demand in particular Field Training Instructors. I encourage anyone interested in providing certification opportunities for future trappers to consider becoming a certified instructor. The process is painless and will only take a few minutes of your time to complete. Current MTA membership is required and must be maintained to be considered eligible for hosting classes. A signed Code of Conduct which gives consent to a background check for "crimes of violence" only is required. If you'd like additional information, please contact me or review the information on becoming certified/recertified on MTA's website http://www.mntrappers.org./

September is Trapper Education Month - Those that are planning on hosting a traditional class or just the field training portion I encourage to consider offering the opportunity in September whenever practical. Although I encourage instructors to offer opportunities whenever they are available to do so, prospective student interest is definitely peaking as fall approaches. We are particularly in need of opportunities in the St Cloud, Brainerd and Mille Lacs areas of the state. If you'd like additional information, please contact me.

The Winter General Membership Meeting - Winter Convention and the MTA Legal Defense Fund Banquet held in Askov/Finlayson earlier this month were both successful events and gave trappers the opportunity to pick up equipment, sell/ship furs, be informed on recent events related to trapping and to help reinforce our commitment to the future of our sport.

I'd also like to take the opportunity to thank Harry Kuefler from Chisago City for sending a donation by mail for MTA's Legal Defense Fund as well.

I thank all who attended and particularly those that put in all the sweat and preplanning to bring everything together. MTA has some of the most hardworking and selfless individuals I've ever met in my life and I'm proud to serve alongside such fine folks.

Awards/ Recognitions - Speaking of trappers with these attributes, it was my honor and privilege to present awards to three such men at our Meeting. These men now share the honor of the  MTA 2013 Trappers of the Year. Al Dietz of Ely, Frank Brula of Babbitt and Gary Leistico of Clear Lake were simultaneously honored by the unanimous approval of the membership in attendance. Their nomination letters which are published in this issue of the MTA Newsletter magazine spells out their qualifications. In addition it was my privilege to recognize Gary Leistico with the President's Award at the General Membership Meeting as well.

Congratulations to all three of these men.

What's For Dinner???? Most associate turkey with the traditional Thanksgiving meal centerpiece however, I think someone is trying to suggest more modest fare might be in order here on the timbered coast of Lake Superior for the Johnson family.

Phil, a trapping buddy of mine stopped by for a brief visit to give his best wishes to my family, departed in his pickup only to return mere seconds later.

"You're never going to believe what I found under your mailbox!"

I was intrigued and stepped onto our sidewalk.

Holding the recently deceased critter from the end of his scaly tail, my friend laughingly displayed what appeared to be a partially frozen POSSUM of around five or six pounds.

You've got to be kidding me! 

Further investigation at the scene of the crime produced physical evidence suggesting said marsupial was deposited at some speed as the "skid mark" evident in the fresh show and absence of any tracks suggested he didn't arrive in northern Minnesota under his own power.

As most northern Minnesota residents are well aware, fisher/marten/bobcat season has opened on the weekend following Thanksgiving for the last several years. In addition Minnesota's second wolf trapping season opened the very same weekend to boot! 

I strongly suspect but cannot yet prove in a court of law, that Mror Miss Possum's earthly remains more than likely were subjected to the grand honor of riding in an open air funeral procession in the back of a pickup from somewhere in the southern portion of the great state of Minnesota.

Why the vehicle was heading in a northerly direction is purely speculative.

Perhaps this was an annual trek north to take advantage of the "generous" six day marten/fisher season or an attempt by the human inhabitant(s) of said vehicle to fill a rare and much coveted wolf trapping license somewhere "UP NORT?"

An alternative hypothesis was suggested (but subsequently dismissed) that perhaps the possum hitchhiked underneath a vehicle from the South and due to the cold, it simply lost his grip on whatever it was clinging to under the vehicle and fell to its untimely death.

I'm leaning solidly toward the former in probability as opposed to the latter.

I conducted an informal preliminary investigation by questioning several southern Minnesota members of the Board of Directors during the winter meeting regarding this matter but was unable to extract a voluntary confession or to otherwise come to any solid conclusions.

That's the frustrating thing about investigating probable conspiracy crimes.

I'm not generally open to conspiracy theories of any kind but I suspect more than pure chance is in play here. Consider the probability that a wayward, homeless opossum somehow had the ability to drop out of mid air only to land under the mailbox of an individual that just happens to be the president of the Minnesota Trappers Association and expire here unceremoniously in the sub zero cold of the North Shore on Thanksgiving weekend!

Unfortunately local law enforcement neglected to become involved as the body of said marsupial vanished without a trace from our porch in connection with a VERY substantial snowfall event.

This remains an open investigation and anyone having relevant information leading to the identity of the individual or individuals that perpetrated this heinous act, are encouraged to phone our anonymous tip line 1-555- POSSUMGATE with their tips.

Transplanting Wildlife, (without appropriate DNR Permits) Possum Tossing and Reckless Abandonment of Non-Resident Marsupials are crimes that will not be tolerated here in my neck of the woods.

Keep your skinning knives sharp!