Minnesota Trappers Association
President's Report

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

President's Report
March 2015

Greetings Trappers,

By now the world is well aware of the fact that wolves nationwide have been returned to the Endangered Species List along with complete Federal protection.  News that wolves were relisted has had, wolf protectionists cheering from their electric cars nationwide. Oh joy.

There's little point in outlining all of the many reasons that this was a poor decision especially for wolves. At this point the shortest, speediest route to remedy this situation is through congressional/legislative action. Needless to say, if congressional action doesn't remedy the situation quickly, we won't be seeing another wolf season in the lower 48 for quite some time. Of the many concerned groups the foremost active at this point being the various state Cattlemen's Associations have jumped to action on this front and elected officials are being inundated with letters and telephone calls urging them to take immediate action. MTA has added our name to the list of organizations that are calling for the same and I encourage the membership to do likewise. As a result MTA was invited to a meeting with the MN Attorney General Lori Swanson to discuss the situation. MTA legal counsel Gary Leistico attended on behalf of trappers and other concerned Minnesotans to reiterate the importance of the State of MN maintaining management of wolves and allowing concessions for those looking to protect their livestock and interests.

Wolf protectionists are certainly letting their voices be heard with the help of multi-million dollar organizations that actually care little for wolves but a lot about money. In spite of such steep odds, I’m cautiously optimistic that lawmakers will be motivated to act quickly and will ultimately be successful. I expect Minnesota's wolf season will resume again in the near future but not without a revitalized effort on the part of the anti wolf hunting/trapping crowd to prevent it from happening. Wolf trapping will no doubt be singled out. The same old lies and the predictable saturation of emotional propaganda in the media are standards in their playbook but will likely be dramatically accelerated. So please be certain your elected officials understand that trappers in Minnesota will not wait another forty years for another opportunity to take a wolf legally. Future wolf trapping opportunities though important, pale in comparison to some of the very real threats to all trapping here in Minnesota. 

Encourage non-members to dramatically increase their strength and influence by joining MTA today.

The most recent threat to trapping on the horizon has to be the lawsuit initiated by Friends of Animals in US District Court in Massachusetts against the USFWS in regards to the Incidental Take Permit (ITP) recently unveiled for lynx in the state of Maine.

Maine was in a similar situation to Minnesota's in regards to lynx lawsuits. Much like Minnesota, these suits were ultimately resolved by court decisions and trapping restrictions were put in place in both states to reduce or eliminate the incidental take of lynx pending the issuance of an ITP by the fed.

As things turned out in Maine, the ITP appears to be more commonsense and trapper friendly than the court mandated trapping restrictions that proceeded it. Needless to say anti trapping groups are not happy and are pursing court challenges to the ITP.

Why is this important to trappers in Minnesota?

Should the Friends of Animals and their ilk be successful in convincing the Court that USFWS hasn't done their job adequately, and that they must issue another more restrictive ITP, repercussions will be felt across the nation. Similar legal challenges will no doubt be attempted for other listed species perhaps even wolves.

Regarding the lynx situation in Minnesota, such a move could result in even more restrictive trapping regulations in the portion of northeastern Minnesota designated as the Lynx Zone and perhaps beyond that may have the potential to end meaningful trapping and snaring as we currently know it.

Minnesota has been awaiting our ITP and depending on how this court action plays out, we will definitively be affected here as well by the result of the pending case in Massachusetts.

We in Minnesota will no doubt be involved in our own similar lawsuit in the very near future so it's time to wake up and pay attention to what is happening to trappers in other parts of this nation.

The winter General Membership Meeting this past January in Askov/Finlayson was well attended for the most part but downward adjusted fur prices have had an impact on numbers as well. In spite of that fact our Fifth Annual Legal Defense Fund Banquet was an enjoyable evening that successfully added more dollars to our rainy day fund to better prepare the Association financially for the inevitable legal battles that no doubt lie ahead. Thanks to Gerard Stellmach from Foley for his generous contribution to MTA Education at the Legal Defense Fund Banquet.

Our annual convention will be held in Bemidji this year at the Beltrami County Fairgrounds August 14, 15 and 16th. As usual, Sunday will be tear down day with most vendors packing up for the return home so there will be minimal opportunity for business that day. Dallas and Dan along with the membership from District 2 will be our hosts and as always, member volunteers allow our events to run smoothly. All the other Districts will rotate gate and MTA booth duties so contact your district leadership as we get closer to convention time, for opportunities to lend a hand.

Once again at this year's convention, we will be offering trapping technique demonstrations that will qualify in place of field training requirements for students that have already completed the online Trapper Exam required for trapper certification. Those interested should visit the MTA table for necessary paperwork and schedule.

In addition to these opportunities, District 7's Brian Fischer has taken the initiative to offer several demos and activities geared toward youth in an introductory fashion. Further details will be shared as we get closer to convention time. Brian encourages member volunteers to lend a hand if they can during the convention.

Should a majority of the Board approve District 8's Non Resident Trapping Proposal at the March BOD Meeting, this proposal will be presented to the General Membership for an official vote at the Bemidji convention. So if this issue is important to you please take the time to attend your district meetings and let your district leadership know you're wishes. The Proposal is reproduced below for your consideration.

Non Resident Trapping

We would like to try and have the MTA membership vote on supporting a Non Resident Trapping season with the following restrictions:

1. No Tagged species including Marten, Fisher, Otter and Bobcat

2. Non Resident Beaver Season to close the end of February

3. Non Resident water season to open 1 week later than residents in each of the 2 Zones. 

MTA leadership will be attending a meeting with DNR this January to discuss trapping subjects including another two week extension of the beaver season into May again this spring. At this point it appears that the focus on the meeting will be otter avoidance techniques.

On a final note for this report, an election for MTA president will be held at the Bemidji Convention as well.  I encourage the membership to take an active role in selecting their leadership. Candidate letters will appear in an upcoming issue of the Newsletter magazine.

If reelected, I'll continue serve and defend trappers to the very best of my ability and strength. 

Keep your skinning knives sharp,