Editor’s Call: United for the Cause

Jim Spencer, T&PC executive editor

Jim Spencer, T&PC executive editor

The NTA and FTA would both be stronger if they worked together


In 1959, or thereabouts, a small, dedicated and forward-thinking group of trappers put their heads together and started an organization they called the National Trappers Association. Things were pretty amicable for a few years, but it didn’t last. About a decade later, 1968 to be precise, a series of internal squabbles led to a splinter group breaking off from the NTA and forming a second national trappers group. This offshoot called itself the Fur Takers of America.

I’m not well versed on the specifics of disagreements that led to the split, and frankly I don’t give a damn what they were anyway. It’s pretty safe to say they were petty and insignificant though, at least when compared to the larger, more important reason for having trappers’ organizations in the first place, which, of course, is to give ourselves the necessary organizational powers and strength of numbers to defend ourselves from the anti-trapping, anti-hunting element.

Or, at least, that’s what the reason ought to be. Instead, politics and egos got in the way, and now we have two national organizations instead of one, both ostensibly working for the same goals but working independently of each other to achieve them.

The main thing the FTA and NTA accomplished when they split the sheet 45 years ago was to weaken the trapping industry as a whole. Since then, both organizations have spent millions of dollars duplicating efforts to protect trappers and trapping. The NTA has its programs and its magazine and its agenda, and so does the FTA, and much of this stuff – if not most of it – is largely redundant. The trapping industry would be much better off if the two organizations would make more of an effort to work together instead of each largely ignoring the other, as is usually the case now.

It’s not that I think either of these fine organizations is unimportant. Far from it. Both are vital to our continued well being as trappers and fur harvesters, and both organizations have a well-trained network of volunteers and paid staff who continue to carry the torch for us in Washington D.C. and elsewhere. The point I’m trying to make here is that we’d be better served if both the NTA and FTA could somehow set aside the issue of which is the better organization, and work together to get important things done.

In closing, I’ll say that I’m already aware this is going to land me in hot water. Write letters or emails if you want, and tell me how wrong I am. My skin is tough enough and my head is hard enough that I don’t much care, and it’s time somebody said something.

Because the thing is, I’m not wrong about this.

Jim Spencer, of Calico Rock, Ark., is executive editor of T&PC. To contact Jim, send e-mails to modernmountainman@gmail.com. Visit his website at www.treblehookunlimited.com.

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