What is trapping?
Trapping is a method of capturing and harvesting animals. The
Massachusetts Division of Fish & Wildlife (MDFW) has
established specific trapping seasons when furbearers may be
taken. Wildlife biologists recognize trapping as an important
wildlife management tool. Trapping is highly regulated and
scientifically monitored by professional wildlife biologists
within each state's department of wildlife to ensure that the
most humane methods are used and that the population is never
What do you
mean by "wildlife management tool?"
Wildlife management is a complex, scientific discipline
concerned with habitat loss, animal damage control, public
health and safety, and the responsible treatment of animals. The
MDFW's goal is to apply this science to protect, maintain
and restore wildlife populations. Maintaining a balance between
people and animals is often a big part of the Massachusetts
Division of Fish & Wildlife's job. Trapping is a proven method
for conserving and managing wildlife resources.
What are the benefits of
Trapping benefits both people and wildlife. Trapping can help
keep urban and suburban residents safe from problems caused by
people and wildlife living in close proximity. It may come as a
surprise, but trapping is often used in urban and suburban areas
to keep overabundant wildlife away from our homes and yards. In
many American cities, coyotes, foxes, and raccoons have entered
residential and urban areas as their populations soar and their
fear of people decreases. Recently, coyotes were even spotted in
central Boston. In Masschusetts, coyotes have been observed in
all of our counties.
Trapping also can assist experts in researching and
relocating species to areas where animals can better thrive. For
example, river otters once absent from most of the Midwest, are
now making a comeback. This turn of events contrasts with
conditions in the early 1900s when river otters nearly
disappeared due to a substantial loss of habitat and 200 years
of unregulated trapping and hunting. Thanks to a partnership
between trappers and wildlife biologists, nearly 4,000 otters
have been released back into the wild in 18 states, after being
trapped in places where they are abundant, like Louisiana and
Trapping can help restore threatened and endangered species
by controlling predators and other animals that would otherwise
have killed these sensitive animals or destroyed their habitats.
Sea turtles, black-footed ferrets, whooping cranes, and other
rare species are protected from predation and habitat damage
caused by foxes, coyotes, and nutria.
How is trapping
Anyone who traps must purchase a Fur Harvester License and
follow very strict rules established and enforced by the MDFW.
Some of the ways in which trapping is regulated include
restrictions on species taken, seasons, bag limits, types of
traps, methods used, and areas in which trapping is permitted.
Is trapping cruel?
Many people unfamiliar with modern trapping think of traps as
big, powerful devices with teeth that were used to capture bears
in the early 1900s. Today these traps are best used as a display
on a cabin wall because trap, sizes, types, and usage are
strictly regulated by the state to ensure for the most humane
method of capture. Ongoing scientific research is aimed at the
development of improved trap designs.
How is trap research
Experts from all 50 state fish and wildlife agencies and other
conservationists who care about the environment, natural
resources, and animal welfare are working together to improve
and modernize the technology of trapping through scientific
The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies has begun one
of the most ambitious research projects in the history of the
conservation movement: a program to develop Best Management
Practices (BMPs) for trapping as a way to identify efficient and
humane traps and improve those tools and techniques.
Initial findings are promising and show that even with minor
adjustments, some existing traps can be improved. Also, new
technology has proved very efficient, selective, and mindful of
The ongoing scientific research is being conducted to ensure
improvements in animal welfare and wildlife management.
Professional wildlife biologists, highly qualified wildlife
veterinarians and experts in the field of trapping are involved
in all phases of this project.
How will the Best Management
Practices (BMPs) be implemented?
Once the program is complete, the BMPs for trapping furbearers
will be provided to state agencies and trappers for
incorporation into trapper education and wildlife management
programs. In addition to improving wildlife management in the
United States, the research and resulting BMPs may be used by
other countries to improve their programs. BMPs will also be
used by the United States to address international commitments
to identify and promote the use of humane traps and trapping
methods for capturing wildlife.
Who has set the
standards for determining whether a trap can be considered
Wildlife professionals, in cooperation with wildlife
veterinarians, will use the information gathered through the
trapping BMP research to determine which are the best devices
for restraining animals. This information is collected following
standards for evaluation outlined by The International
Organization for Standardization, an organization that
determines standards for products around the world. Those
standards for evaluation are intended for use in the United
States and worldwide.
Why is so much effort and
funding put into this project when trapping simply can be
It does not make sense to ban trapping. In fact, trapping is an
indispensable wildlife management tool that many wildlife
professionals rely on to help them care for wildlife
populations. Because the MDFW cares about wildlife, the MDFW is
seeking to identify the best tools available.
According to a Utah State University's Jack H. Berryman
Institute, wildlife professionals report that certain animal
populations would increase over 200% across the United States
over the next 10 years if hunting and trapping were banned
tomorrow. In just the northeast region alone, raccoon
populations could increase up to 100% over the next 10 years if
trapping were prohibited. Millions of tax dollars are spent
annually to reduce, alleviate, repair, or compensate for damage
done by wildlife.
Does the Massachusetts Division of
Fish & Wildlife offer Trapper Education?
Yes. All first-time trappers must successfully complete the free
trapper's education class of the Hunter Education Program, (978)
632-7648, before they may obtain a trap registration number or
trap on the land of another. Trapping is allowed for person ages
12 and older. Click [here]
for more information
Do you have a list of talking
points that I could use to promote trapping?