There seems to be a flurry of activity in the sportsmen's rights arena these days, some of which can be attributed to legislative cycles and some of which can be attributed to folks who generally relish suppressing the rights of others. Why do they do this? Because they have the time.
It looks like the National Defense Authorization Act 2015 passed in the US House 325-98. If not passed as proposed, this act would have restricted the rights of Federal Land Users, including Trappers, in up to 11 states. Who are the 98 Congressman who voted against it, and why?
North Carolina has a proposed law in committee right now NC SB647 that will restrict the use of "Conibear Type Traps". The proposed restrictions are similar to the restrictions in Minnesota to jaw size and placement, and trigger position, but the law goes further to restrict where traps can be set (public vs. private). There is also a provision to add trapper education as a requirement. The education component is probably a good thing, but we will see where this goes. The last draft of the language that I found was dated April 30th, and it appears to be stripped down quite a bit from the late March/early April version.
Here is what is very interesting. When I looked at the original language of the law amendment proposal to (March), it would have required that "conibear type traps" would have to be set "4' above the ground", and so on. This, of course, is similar language to what has been proposed for Conibear traps (often offered up as body grip traps in such proposed amendments in Minnesota). What does this mean? It means that if any of you had any doubt that the latest efforts in the State of Minnesota by the "Dog Lovers for Safe Trapping" and associated groups were merely local efforts, think again.
I believe that HSUS inherently knows that the general population of many states detest them, principally, because they file frivolous lawsuits which cost the taxpayers money to defend. Their attorneys benefit from these Federal suits, even if they lose, and the language they propose affects many people outside of just their targeted group. They can veil their presence by attempting to work through "local" groups, but the song remains the same. Just as HSUS is using the same playbook for Lynx in other States as they used in Maine and Minnesota, they offer support for more targeted local efforts to restrict certain types of traps and snares, such as the case of the proposed legislation in Minnesota this spring, and currently in North Carolina.
My last pitch to you is this: I work 55-60 hours a week most of the winter. Even when I am on "vacation" I work. During the spring, summer and fall, I work 60-75 hours per week. This week, as I write this letter, I logged 68 hours in five days. I am the sole breadwinner, running multiple business entities, and I have two small children under the age of 4. I do not have much spare time.
My busiest time of year falls over the time we have our MTA Summer Meeting and the NTA Convention. I have asked President Johnson if I could take on a Co-Director / Volunteers and he has authorized me to commission someone to help. The primary area I need help is at the MTA Summer Meeting manning the NTA booth. This task involves maintaining an NTA presence and working with trappers on memberships. You might only sign up a half-dozen trappers, but it is important to be there (especially if you ask former NTA President and Hall of Famer, Gary Meis). I also need assistance calling members with lapsed memberships who may not have received or recognized their mailed notices. Usually it is a matter of just leaving a voice message. Occasionally, a member will pick up and talk to you.
If I fail to find volunteers and/or a Co-Director by the MTA Summer Meeting, this will be my last year as NTA Director. Guys, this is not meant as leverage, it is simply me saying to you that I am not going to do a half-assed job when I do something. If I cannot fulfill the requirements of the job, I will stop the struggle. I have put out a request for volunteers in the past, but nobody has stepped forward. I have been speaking to District Directors to see if they can get the word out also. Hopefully, people who are not already volunteering their feet off can step forward. Your assistance is greatly appreciated.
NTA Director - Minnesota