Official Site of the National Trappers Association
Official Site of the National Trappers Association

National
Trappers Association

Protecting Wild Things and Wild Places

Defending Our Heritage

We Are Committed

To defend and promote the safe and ethical harvest of furbearing mammals and to the preservation and enhancement of their habitats.

We Encourage

The development and usage of the most effective and humane trapping techniques available.

Education
Education
Top name trappers provide demonstrations at each convention to help trappers of all ages improve their trapping techniques.
Research
Research
The reintroduction of the otter in the U.S. is an example of the partnership between trappers and wildlife managers.
Legislation
Legislation
The NTA lawyers & lobbyists assist many states with introduced legislative bills which are detrimental to trappers.
View Your State
Your State
Click the map to view what's happening in your state. Most are affiliated with the NTA helping us all work together.
Highlights of the 2019 National Trappers Association Convention

Opossum

Trapping Facts
Quick Facts About Trapping

There are more wild furbearers in the United States today than there was 100 years ago.
There are no furbearing animals in the United States or Canada which are endangered or threatened by fur harvesting today.
Millions of North Americans depend on fur harvesting for their livelihood. These people have a vested interest in protecting the natural environment.
Nothing is wasted in the production of a wild fur garment. Furbearers provide food, organic fertilizer, medicines, and other biodegradable products.
Conversely, synthetic materials exhaust our limited supply of oil and other non-renewable resources.
Sound wildlife management programs ensure the necessary supply of natural wild fur for today's needs and those of tomorrow
About NTA

The National Trappers Association is committed to defending and promoting the safe and ethical harvest of furbearing mammals and to the preservation and enhancement of their habitats.
Fifty-one state trapping affiliates make up the core of the national organization representing thousands of fur harvesters from every portion of the country. The National Trappers Association and its members continue to research and encourage the development and usage of the most effective and humane trapping techniques available.
Furbearers, like other managed wildlife species, thrive and are far more diverse today then 100 years ago. The reintroduction of the river otter throughout America’s river systems is just one example of the successful partnership between trappers and wildlife managers.
The National Trappers Association continues to defend our American Heritage and the sound management of all wildlife for the future enjoyment and use by all sportsmen of North America.
We thank all members and organizations for their dedicated support.
Destroying the Myth
This NTA produced video explodes the heart of the anti-trapping strategy by exposing it as false. Click video to view.
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Upper Snake River Trappers of Idaho

NTA Director
Mike Murdock
1130 E 1800 N
Terreton, ID 83450
T: 208-716-0377
E: mikemurdock95@gmail.com

HSUS Statement #1

Trapped animals can suffer from thirst and starvation; they may die as a result of exposure to the elements or predation. (Humane Society of the United States)

Factual Rebuttal: DNR regulation stipulates that traps set in uplands and non-tidal wetlands must be checked once per calender day. This frequency prevents or severely limits the probability of these occurrences. Any person that would violate this regulation would also violate trap prohibition regulations.
The fundamental economic realities of commercial trapping also discourages these occurrences. The margin of profit in commercial trapping is relatively small. Every consecutive day that an animal is in a trap, that trap is non-functional and cannot capture additional animals. In effect, if a trapper allowed this to occur they would be jeopardizing potential revenue.

HSUS Statement #2

The steel-jawed foothold trap has been declared "inhumane" by the American Veterinary Medical Association, the World Veterinary Association, and the American Animal Hospital Association. (Humane Society of the United States)

Factual Rebuttal: These organizations characteristically represent domestic small animal health care providers. The very nature of their professions predetermines that they typically examine only worse case scenarios involving trapped animals. It can be logically assumed that few examinations would be requested for un-injured animals captured in foothold traps.
Animal health care professionals that specialize in wildlife health issues clearly support trapping and the use of foothold traps to manage health concerns in free-ranging wildlife populations.

HSUS Statement #3

Animals still alive when the trapper checks the trapline are killed by bludgeoning or stomping or, less often, by strangulation or shooting. (Humane Society of the United States)

Factual Rebuttal: Portions of this statement reinforce the inherent value of foothold traps. foothold traps are live-restraining devices and the animals are "still alive", thus affording the opportunity to release or harvest captured animals. Although not aesthetically pleasing, blunt force trauma (bludgeoning) and shooting are recognized as humane euthanasia techniques by the American Veterinary Medical Association. Trapper education provides information on humane techniques to put an animal down
Raccoon Roundworms

Raccoon Roundworms

Baylisascaris, an intestinal raccoon roundworm, can infect a variety of other animals, including humans. The worms develop to maturity in the raccoon intestine, where they produce millions of eggs that are passed in the feces. Released eggs take 2-4 weeks to become infective to other animals and humans. The eggs are resistant to most environmental conditions and with adequate moisture, can survive for years.

People become infected when they accidentally ingest infective eggs in soil, water, or on objects that have been contaminated with raccoon feces.

When humans ingest these eggs, they hatch into larvae in the person's intestine and travel throughout the body, affecting the organs and muscles.

Anyone who is exposed to environments where raccoons live is potentially at risk. Young children or developmentally disabled persons are at highest risk for infection when they spend time outdoors and may put contaminated fingers, soil, or objects into their mouths. Hunters, trappers, taxidermists, and wildlife handlers may also be at increased risk if they have contact with raccoons or raccoon habitats.

Infected raccoons have been found throughout the United States, mainly in the Midwest, Northeast, middle Atlantic, and West coast. Infection rarely causes symptoms in raccoons. Predator animals, including dogs, may also become infected by eating a smaller animal that has been infected with Baylisascaris.

Raccoon Roundworms Signs & Symptoms - Nausea, tiredness, liver enlargement, loss of coordination, lack of attention to people and surroundings, loss of muscle control, blindness, coma.

HSUS Statement #4

Body-gripping traps (steel-jawed foothold traps, snares, and Conibear traps) cause severe distress, fear, and pain to both wildlife and pets. Body-gripping traps slam closed on and grip tightly an animal's leg or other body part. As a result, animals can suffer lacerations, broken bones, and joint dislocation. As the animal struggles to get free, he/she sometimes chews off a leg to escape or breaks teeth by biting the metal trap. (Humane Society of the United States)

Factual Rebuttal: The correct terminology and classification of trap types includes 3 different categories. The first category is 'live-capture restraining devices' that allow the release or harvest of trapped animals. foothold traps are included in this category. The second category is 'killing' devices that result in a near instantaneous death for trapped animals. This category includes Conibears and other brands of body-gripping traps. The third category includes traps that can function either as 'live-capture restraining devices' or 'killing' devices dependent on how and where they are set. Snares are included in this category.
Since Conibears and other body gripping "killer' traps are designed to provide a near instantaneous death via force applied directly below the base of the skull, the likelihood of extraneous injury, and/or self mutilation is extremely low. When snares are used as a 'live- capture restraining device they function in a similar manner to a dog collar and leash. Therefore, the likelihood of extraneous damage and/or self mutilation is also extremely low. Highly structured and replicated studies have repeatedly shown that foothold traps are the only efficient, practical, selective, humane, and environmentally benign 'live-capture restraining device' currently available for many furbearer species.
By design, capture devices used to reintroduce extirpated species or augment Threatened and Endangered populations have to ensure minimal damage probabilities to target animals. foothold traps have been used almost exclusively to capture and re-establish red wolves, gray wolves, mexican wolves, lynx, and river otter.

HSUS Statement #5

Body-gripping traps are indiscriminate. They victimize any animal unfortunate enough to trigger them. Animals caught include protected species such as eagles, kit foxes, fishers, and wolverines, as well as family pets. The majority of smaller animals (birds, rabbits, squirrels, etc.) unintentionally caught in traps die or must be destroyed because of serious, disabling injuries. (Humane Society of the United States)

Factual Rebuttal: The selectivity of foothold traps has been documented in studies conducted by the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies in 21 states. The capture of thousands of furbearers resulted in non- target capture rates as small as 3% of total captures, and included no threatened and endangered species. foothold traps are live-capture restraining devices that experience minimal injury rates, and allow release of captured animals. Over 4,000 river otter captured predominately in foothold traps have been released in reintroduction projects in 18 states.
Traps pose no realistic threat to human safety. An exhaustive investigation of trapping incidents in the U.S. during the last twenty years could only document 3 cases of injury to the public that resulted from regulated trapping. All of these injuries were considered minor.

HSUS Statement #6

Commercial trapping is not a "wildlife management tool". There are no bag limits and no limits on the number of traps that can be set. Trapping activity is driven by the price of pelts, not by the need to manage wildlife populations. Some fur-bearers (coyotes for instance) have natural fertility and breeding controls when not disturbed by humans, while others (such as muskrats) experience natural boom-and-bust cycles. (Humane Society of the United States)

Factual Rebuttal: The professional wildlife conservation community universally endorses traps and trapping as critical and essential wildlife management tools. The Wildlife Society and the International Association Of Fish and Wildlife Agencies are the largest international organizations representing professional wildlife conservation employees and governmental wildlife agencies. Both organizations have issued policy statements that strongly support the role commercial trapping plays in achieving wildlife management objectives.
Harvest season length, bag limits, permissible size and types of traps, and total number of traps permissible per trapper, are all considered during the development of management strategies for individual species. Population growth characteristics of some species require strict harvest regulations that include bag limits and limiting the number of traps per individual. Conversely, harvest and population characteristics of other species require liberal regulations to meet prescribed furbearer management objectives.
All wildlife populations possess inherent bio-feedback mechanisms that eventually limit population densities. Most species can exhibit classic 'boom and bust cycles'. The reproductive capabilities of coyotes, muskrats and many other furbearers allow non-regulated populations to increase at exponential rates until they approach and/or surpass the carrying capacity of their respective ecosystems (boom). When this occurs, competition for limited resources compromises the health of the entire population. At that time, the weakened condition of these animals allow density-dependent mortality factors such as starvation, disease, and social strife, to decimate entire populations (bust). Oftentimes, the health of the entire ecosystem including all aligned wildlife species and the public are also negatively impacted by these inflated furbearer populations.
Regulated commercial trapping manages populations by moderating the extremes of 'boom and bust' cycles. This results in stable populations of healthy animals that are in balance with the biological carrying capacity of their ecosystems and the cultural carrying capacity accepted by the general public.
Learn more about some of the most commonly trapped furbearers in the United States by clicking on the photos below.

Beaver Fever (Giardiasis)

Giardiasis (GEE-are-DYE-uh-sis) is a diarrheal illness caused by a one-celled, microscopic parasite, Giardia intestinalis (also known as Giardia lamblia). Once an animal or person has been infected with Giardia intestinalis, the parasite lives in the intestine and is passed in the stool. Because the parasite is protected by an outer shell, it can survive outside the body and in the environment for long periods of time.

During the past 2 decades, Giardiainfection has become recognized as one of the most common causes of waterborne disease (found in both drinking and recreational water) in humans in the United States . Giardia are found worldwide and within every region of the United States.

The Giardia parasite lives in the intestine of infected humans or animals. Millions of germs can be released in a bowel movement from an infected human or animal. Giardia is found in soil, food, water, or surfaces that have been contaminated with the feces from infected humans or animals. You can become infected after accidentally swallowing the parasite.

Beaver Fever Signs & Symptoms - Diarrhea, gas, greasy stools, stomach or abdominal cramps, upset stomach or nausea/vomiting, dehydration.
Beaver Fever
Furbearer

What is a Furbearer?

Technically, the term furbearer includes all mammals, all of which, by definition possess some form of hair. Typically, however, wildlife managers use the term to identify mammal species that have traditionally been trapped or hunted for their fur. Furbearers are a diverse group, including both carnivores (meat eating predators) and rodents (gnawing mammals). Most are adaptable species ranging over large geographic areas. A few animals that are normally hunted or trapped primarily for their meat or to reduce agricultural or property damage may also be considered furbearers if their skins are marketed.
Fur

Fur Facts

Most furbearers possess two layers of fur: a dense, soft underfur that provides insulation and water-repellent qualities; and an outer layer of longer, glossy guardhairs that grow through the underfur, protecting it from matting and abrasion. A fur is said to be prime when the guardhairs are at their maximum length and the underfur is at its maximum thickness. Fur generally becomes prime in midwinter when the coat is fresh and fully grown; the timing for primeness may vary somewhat depending on species, location (latitude) and elevation.
Fur Industry

Fur Industry

Furs are generally tanned, trimmed, and sewn into garments, rugs, blankets and ornaments, and sometimes dyed in a variety of colors and patterns. Furs are also used in fishing lures, fine brushes and other products. Some furs are shaved, and the hair processed into felt for hats and other garments.
The fur trade is tightly regulated by state, national and international governing bodies. These regulations cover everything from animal welfare to environmental impact.
Renewable Fur

Renewable Resource

Fur is a renewable resource (naturally replenished), a product of long traditional use, valued by many for its beauty, durability, insulative and natural qualities. Fur is only one of many values that people ascribe to furbearers. People have continuously used furbearers in North America for clothing, food and religious ceremonies for the past 11,000 years.
The sustainable use of renewable natural resources is based on the fact that most species of plants and animals produce more young than their habitat can support to maturity.

Furbearers

Technically, the term furbearer includes all mammals, all of which, by definition possess some form of hair. Typically, however, wildlife managers use the term to identify mammal species that have traditionally been trapped or hunted for their fur. Furbearers are a diverse group, including both carnivores (meat eating predators) and rodents (gnawing mammals.

Fur Facts

Most furbearers possess two layers of fur: a dense, soft underfur that provides insulation and water-repellent qualities; and an outer layer of longer, glossy guardhairs that grow through the underfur, protecting it from matting and abrasion. A fur is said to be prime when the guardhairs are at their maximum length and the underfur is at its maximum thickness. Fur generally becomes prime in midwinter when the coat is fresh and fully grown; the timing for primeness may vary somewhat depending on species, location (latitude) and elevation.

Fur Industry

Furs are generally tanned, trimmed, and sewn into garments, rugs, blankets and ornaments, and sometimes dyed in a variety of colors and patterns. Furs are also used in fishing lures, fine brushes and other products. Some furs are shaved, and the hair processed into felt for hats and other garments.
The fur trade is tightly regulated by state, national and international governing bodies. These regulations cover everything from animal welfare to environmental impact.

Resources

Fur is a renewable resource (naturally replenished), a product of long traditional use, valued by many for its beauty, durability, insulative and natural qualities. Fur is only one of many values that people ascribe to furbearers. People have continuously used furbearers in North America for clothing, food and religious ceremonies for the past 11,000 years.
Leptospirosis

Leptospirosis

Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that affects humans and animals. It is caused by bacteria of the genus Leptospira. In humans it causes a wide range of symptoms, and some infected persons may have no symptoms at all. Symptoms of leptospirosis include high fever, severe headache, chills, muscle aches, and vomiting, and may include jaundice (yellow skin and eyes), red eyes, abdominal pain, diarrhea, or a rash. If the disease is not treated, the patient could develop kidney damage, meningitis (inflammation of the membrane around the brain and spinal cord), liver failure, and respiratory distress. In rare cases death occurs.

Many of these symptoms can be mistaken for other diseases. Leptospirosis is confirmed by laboratory testing of a blood or urine sample. Outbreaks of leptospirosis are usually caused by exposure to water contaminated with the urine of infected animals. Many different kinds of animals carry the bacterium; they may become sick but sometimes have no symptoms. Leptospira organisms have been found in cattle, pigs, horses, dogs, rodents, and wild animals. Humans become infected through contact with water, food, or soil containing urine from these infected animals. This may happen by swallowing contaminated food or water or through skin contact, especially with mucosal surfaces, such as the eyes or nose, or with broken skin. The disease is not known to be spread from person to person.

Leptospirosis Signs & Symptoms - High fever, headache, chills, muscle aches, vomiting, jaundice, red eyes, abdominal pain, diarrhea, rash.

Rabies

Rabies is a disease caused by the rabies virus. It may take several weeks or even a few years for people to show symptoms after getting infected with rabies, but usually people start to show signs of the disease 1 to 3 months after the virus infects them. The early signs of rabies can be fever or headache, but this changes quickly to nervous system signs, such as confusion, sleepiness, or agitation. Once someone with rabies infection starts having these symptoms, that person usually does not survive. This is why it is very important to talk to your doctor or health care provider right away if any animal bites you, especially a wild animal.

Many kinds of animal can pass rabies to people. Wild animals are much more likely to carry rabies, especially raccoons, skunks, bats, foxes, and coyotes. However, dogs, cats, cattle (cows), or any warm-blooded animal can pass rabies to people. People usually get rabies from the bite of an infected animal. Many animals, such as dogs, cats, and horses are vaccinated against rabies, but you should always wash any bite thoroughly and check with your health care provider about what to do if any animal bites you.

Early Rabies Signs & Symptoms - Similar to flu, discomfort, fever, headache. Don't delay calling the doctor!
Rabies
River Otter Restoration
Successful in AK, MO, TN, KY, IL, IN, NC, IA, WV, NE, NY, OH, PA, CO, MD, AZ, MN, OK & KS
Modern foothold traps (these are the same traps used by public trappers) have been used to successfully capture river otter and release them unharmed into other areas of the United States to restore otter populations.

Capture and Relocate
Lynx reintroduced to some western states were captured by foothold traps in the Yukon, Canada.
Red wolves, Mexican wolves and Grey wolves were captured by foothold traps, examined and relocated to establish new populations. Some are used for captive breeding programs by wildlife officials.
Tick Borne Illness

Tick Borne Illness

Ticks may transmit several different diseases to humans, including Lyme Disease, Southern Tick-Associated Rash, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and more.

Lyme disease is spread by the tiny deer tick. Ticks feed on blood, and infected ticks transmit the disease as they feed. Although the deer tick prefers to feed on wild animals, especially mice, birds, opossum, raccoon, and deer, they will also feed on dogs, cats, livestock, and humans. When people visit or live near deer tick habitats, they run a high risk of contracting Lyme disease. For your own safety, you should become familiar with tick habits and habitats, and you should learn how to prevent tick bites.

Tick Borne Illness Signs & Symptoms - Fever, chills, aches and pains, rash.
Opossum
Opossum Range
Opossum Tracks

About the Opossum

Didelphis virginiana
Order: Marsupialia
Family - Didelphidae
Fossils of opossums have been dated at 70 million years of age, making the opossum a North American resident during the time of dinosaurs. A marsupial, opossums have pouches in which to incubate newborn offspring. The nearly hairless tail of the opossum is prehensile, making it the only native furbearer with an ability to grasp things with its tail. Opossums appear to have little intelligence, and opossums are commonly caught by novice and experienced trappers.

Opossum Fast Facts

• Adult male opossum can weigh over 10 pounds.

• Opossum have 50 teeth - more than any other American mammal.

• Birth is 13 days after conception, and young stay in the pouch for 80 days.

• The opossum is the only North American marsupial (meaning they have a pouch).

• Opossums can live up to 6 years.

Description

Opossums are grayish animals with naked ears and nearly naked tails. Males are usually larger than females. The males may measure up to 36 inches in length, including the tail of 12 to 14 inches. Weights average around seven pounds for males and five for females. An occasional male might weigh as much as 10 pounds or a little more.
Ears are soft and leathery and white-tipped around the outer edge. Ragged ears are common in the northern parts of the opossums's range and usually the result of frost damage.
Male opossums have a gland under their chin which secretes fluids that often stain their chests a yellow color.
There are five toes on each foot, and the hind feet have a toe that resembles a thumb. All toes have toenails except the thumbs of the hind feet.
Opossums have 50 teeth, more than any other American mammal. Four canine teeth are present.
An opossum brain is very small in comparison to body size, and opossums are thought to be less intelligent than many other species.
The only North American marsupial, female opossums have pouches on their stomachs where young are incubated after birth.
Color variations do occur in the wild, and some opossums are darker in color. Rarely, opossums may be reddish or reddish brown in color.

Opossum Habits

Opossums have an ability to feign death, called "playing possum". In this condition, the animal appears unconscious, the mouth opens slightly, drooling occurs, the feet clutch together, and the entire body becomes limp as in death. Not all opossums "play possum", and the condition is induced by fear or other stresses. Whether this condition is voluntary or involuntary is not known nor fully understood. One theory is that the opossum suffers a short circuiting of the nervous system known as catatonic shock. The condition is much more apt to happen during daylight hours, which suggests that the animal might be able to trigger the response deliberately as a defense mechanism.
Opossums are clean animals and spend time grooming themselves.
Underground dens are favored by opossums, and the species commonly rakes piles of leaves or grass for bedding which they transport into the dens by grasping the pile with their tails and carrying the bedding alotf to the nest.
Opossums are good tree climbers, and they seem to prefer to climb smaller trees where they can use their tails as an aid for grasping. If suitable, underground den sites are not available, an opossum will often use a larger hollow tree for a temporary daytime den.
The use of dens is sporadic except when young are being reared, and it appears that opossums use any convenient den site as their nighttime activites are interrupted by dawn. Natal dens are an exception, and the female regularly uses the same den as the offspring are being reared.
Opossums do not hibernate, but they do store up layers of fat in northern ranges to sustain them during periods of severe cold and deep snow. When cold periods last for more than two weeks, the opossums do have to travel to seek more food, and both ear tips freezing and tail end freezing does occur at these times. These frozen appendages do separate, leaving many northern opossums with rather ragged ears and stubby tails.
The sense of smell is well developed in opossums and helpful in the search for foods which vary a great deal according to opportunity. Insects are a most important food as are worms, eggs of ground nesting birds and young mice or rabbits. Fruits are eaten when available, and opossums frequently scavenge any dead animals found. Roads serve the resource as an important source of food as traffic killed insects, birds and small mammals are found regularly.
The home range of an opossum is about 50 acres. They are not territorial to the extent that they defend their ranges from other opossums. Many opossum ranges overlap, and good quality habitats may support 20 opossums to the square mile.
Opossums do frequent the edges of water for food, and they are rarely found more than 750 yards away from water of some sort.

General

Opossums are not serious predators upon any species, and they are more of a threat to ground nesting birds and their eggs than they are to other wildlife. The species does provide a service by cleaning up carrion.
Although opossum fur doesn't command a high price, annual harvests by man exceed one million animals, and the fur value does bring two or three million dollars to hunters and trappers in many states.
The meat of opossum is edible and appreciated in some areas of America.
An occasional opossum will raid a chicken house.
Young Opossum

Opossum Reproduction

Opossums have two annual litters over much of their range. In far northern areas, one litter per year is typical.
The two peak breeding times are February and June in much of the opossum range.
Birth is just 13 days after conception. After the newborn are cleaned by the mother opossum, they climb in a hand-over-hand fashion to the mother's pouch where they attach themselves to a nipple. The newborn young are very tiny, smaller than honeybees. It takes 22 to 24 newborn opossums to equal the weight of a common penny.
The newborn young appear to be only partially developed, except for the front feet which are needed to grasp to help the newborn travel the several inches to the pouch.
Once securred to the nipple, the newborn opossum does not let go for six to seven weeks. After 80 days in the pouch, young opossums begin to venture outside of the pouch. They begin climbing on the mother's fur, occasionally riding there as the mother travels.
Young opossums grow rapidly, and the first litter of the year is weaned and off on their own by mid-May. The second litter is usually born about four weeks later.
Average litter sizes are about seven or eight in southern states and ten in northern states.
Six years of age is considered old for an opossum.
Copyright © National Trappers Association 2012-2020. All right reserved.
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National
Trappers
Association

Protecting Wild Things
and Wild Places

We Are
Committed

To defend and promote the safe, ethical harvest of furbearing mammals and to the preservation and enhancement of their habitats.

We
Encourage

The development and usage of the most effective and humane trapping techniques available.