Minnesota Trappers Association April-May 2009

President — Gary Meis, 69555 One Mile Rd., Bruno, MN 55712

Vice President — Tim Bauer, 17290 155th Ave. N.E., Foley, MN 56329

Secretary — Liz Thom, 173 Prairie Lake Rd., Wright, MN 55798 e-mail:wlthom@frontiernet.net

Treasurer — Tricia Coons, 403 Wood Ave., Bemidji, MN 56601 e-mail: MTATrish@paulbunyan.net

Membership Coordinator
— Kathy Peterson, 57124 Cty Rd., Northhome, MN 56661; e-mail:
kpeterso@paulbunyan.net

Director of Trapper Education — Deb Offerdahl, 14788 Lynx Rd., Milaca, MN 56353;

Mandatory Trappers Education Director — Kenneth Olson, 353 Stearns Ave., Paynesville, MN 56362-1211; e-mail: mta-ed@clearwire.net

Membership Options:
• Individual membership including subscription to The Trapper & Predator Caller — $20
• Junior (under 16) with subscription — $12
• Senior (over 65) with subscription — $12
• Lifetime membership with subscription — $350

Complete membership application on first page of
association section and send dues to:
MTA, Membership Coordinator
Kathy Peterson
57124 Cty Rd., Northhome, MN 56661

PRESIDENT’S REPORT

Greetings to all MTA members and also those who read this column. Here it is the end of February and other than the days growing longer there sure is no sign of spring here in Bruno. There is still over 3 feet of ice on the lakes and I have heard of some beaver ponds freezing out. Between the recent droughts and now the long, extremely cold winter, Mother Nature sure has been hard on the beaver and muskrat populations here in Minnesota. Try explaining the cruelty of Mother Nature to the animal rights crowd and they look at you like idiots. They are so quick to falsely accuse us of cruelty to animals but just have no clue at all to the harshness of Mother Nature.

I followed the February sale at NAFA and I agree that it was probably the worst sale in their history. The prices were very low along with very low clearances. There are not any private treaty sales that I can see either. The results of the auction do not in any way reflect on the credibility of NAFA. The auction houses work their tails off to promote fur sales and do everything in their power to get us the best money they can. We were warned for the past five months or so that this recession was coming. I saw the trend coming myself with very weak prices in the country buyers this fall and winter. I think I can safely say that spring beaver trappers as well as this coming fall trappers will be as scarce as hen’s teeth unless something happens to bolster the economy and the fur trade. Remember folks, this recession is a global recession and the fur trade is most definitely a global trade. Very little fur stays here in North America.

For those of you who have an interest in the subject of non-resident trapping, whether it is for or against, I do have some news for you. As you know, the DNR has been considering putting the subject of non-resident trapping on the agenda for the Public Input Meetings. After talking the idea over with the DNR Furbearer Committee, they decided that public input would be more appropriate in the future. I will quote the letter, “As with any change related to the sale of hunting or trapping licenses, the sale of non-resident trapping licenses would require legislative approval. Gathering public input that reflects the most current opinions on non-resident trapping licenses would be more effective when the DNR is prepared to go forward with a legislative initiative that includes license changes. This year’s DNR legislative initiative did not include license changes.” So there you have it folks. The subject is dead for another year as far as putting it on the Public Input Meetings goes. I do know that a lot of trappers were anxious and hoping they would see it on the agenda this year.

I also have word on a couple of issues your MTA has been working on with the DNR. One controversial law we have in Minnesota is the use of traps inside of a weasel box. Some officers and officials say they are legal and some say they are not. There is language to have the following put into permanent rule. Now before I go on to explain the law change you must first understand permanent rule. First off, the language is written by meeting with the DNR and the persons or groups requesting the law change. Next the DNR Commissioner must sign off on the adventure. Next the law change must go up for review to the public for 30 days. If during that 30 day time period 25 or more people sign the adventure opposing the law change, then the law change must go in front of an administrative law judge.

The judge then makes his ruling. If the judge makes a ruling in favor of the law change, then the change goes to the Governor to sign. Complicated? No, not really, just very time consuming. There are two other permanent rule changes that are being written also and I will explain them as well. Do not expect these changes to take place until the season of 2010. Now let’s get back to the language. Here is what the language reads for foothold traps in a weasel box: Foothold traps with a jaw spread of 4.75 inches or less or a rat type snap trap, contained entirely within a container with an opening of no more than 2 inches in height or width need not be tended more frequently than once every third calendar day and any animal captured must be removed from the trap. Once again, I don’t see this going into law until at least 2010. You folks asked for the law language and your MTA followed your wish.

Another permanent rule change that the DNR has written language on and will be submitted is as follows: A person may not set, place or operate any bodygripping or “conibear” type trap that has a maximum jaw opening, when set, of greater than 6 inches measured from the inside edges of the bodygripping portions of the jaws or as outlined in this subject.

A. In a road right-of-way within 500 feet of a building occupied by a human or livestock without written permission of the landowner, except as a completely submerged water set.

B. In or within 3 feet of the opening of a 6–foot wide or smaller culvert except as a completely submerged waterset.

We all knew that there would be changes coming regarding the #220 bodygripper. The MTA did not request this law change but we lobbied long and hard with the DNR to keep the #220 on dry land legal. Several years ago when there was a public outcry to ban the dry land #220 we (the MTA) met with the DNR to make our pleas to keep the dry land #220. During this meeting this strategy was discussed. We all agreed to leave things well enough alone until or unless more negative #220 issues came about. Your MTA made massive pleas for trappers to please watch where you set these traps. I’m not going to get into graphics in this magazine as it is monitored by those who oppose our sport, but trust me, the unthinkable happened. Anyone not happy with this change only need to contact me and I will explain situations. I just ask that you thank your MTA once again for being there to keep the dry land #220 legal.

The last permanent rule change I have been made aware of does not have any relationship of the MTA or any plea to the MTA by its membership.

Prior to the opening of the trapping season for any protected species of wild animal, no trap, either set or unset, may be placed or staked and no flag, stake or device may be used for the purpose of marking or preempting a trapping site. Muskrat houses may be marked during the muskrat trapping season only if the house contains an operational trap set.

These are the permanent rule changes I have been made aware of. I thank the DNR for keeping the MTA abreast of what they are doing. If any members have any concerns over the above mentioned changes just follow the format I described above.

I do have a request of the membership. There are a lot of great MTA members out there who look out for the MTA and its welfare. We have been getting numerous calls from the membership giving the MTA ideas of money making plans, state and federal grants, etc. We do appreciate your thoughtfulness but almost every idea that comes across is illegal for the MTA to pursue because we are a “Non Profit Organization” registered with the Attorney General of the State of Minnesota. Laws governing us and the tax bracket we fall into bar us from many of these ideas. Check with your director with any questions you may have.

I do want to thank Nathan Compart of Mankato for sending in a financial donation to the MTA Legal Defense Fund. As I explained in recent publications, we are still around $20,000 in the hole fighting the last two lawsuits that the animal rights groups brought upon us to try and stop trapping here in Minnesota.

In closing, I want to once again remind those of you who have not sent in your raffle tickets to kindly do so. This raffle is the only fundraiser the MTA solicits and all proceeds must go to youth education. Your MTA is and always will be there for you the member. This is a very small way to say “thank you” to the greatest trapping association in the world.

Until next time, be safe.

— Gary Meis

DIRECTOR OF TRAPPER EDUCATION REPORT

Greetings fellow trappers,

It seems that Old Man Winter does not want to release his grasp just yet as another round of snow and sub-zero temperatures have blessed us this week. The calender says spring is to arrive in 19 days … I wonder if it will arrive on time.

Our next board meeting is scheduled for March 21 and at that time, I am confident the amount for the Scholarships will be determined. I will have the amounts in the June Newsletter. All scholarship applications need to be to me no later than July 1. The winners will be announced at the general membership meeting at the summer convention.
The next certified Instructor Class will be held on Friday, Aug. 14 at the summer convention in Chisolm. The class starts at 10 a.m. and usually runs around two to three hours. I ask that you pre-register with me no later than Aug. 1. I would encourage you to become an instructor as we need to properly educate all new comers to trapping so our trapping heritage will continue into the future.

This is the MTA’S 50th Anniversary and I would like to encourage and invite you all to our summer convention. The dates are Aug. 14,15 and 16 in Chisolm, MN. Our conventions are full of trapping supply dealers, adult and kid trapping demos, kid games, great fellowship, etc. I hope to see you all there in August.

I am looking for a few people to help out at Camp Ripley on Saturday, April 25 from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. There is a USSA sponsered Trail Blazer Day and I need trappers to man the trapping booth. If interested, please give me a call.

Until next time, be safe and have a great spring beaver season.

— Deb Offerdahl

MANDATORY TRAPPER’S EDUCATION DIRECTOR’S REPORT

Greetings Trappers,

First of all, I’d like to thank Ken Olson and his bride for all the work they did on behalf of Minnesota trappers in spearheading the Mandatory Trapper Education program. Thank you both for all your hard work and your willingness to dive into uncharted waters. We’re all grateful for your dedication.

Since accepting this position, Deb Offerdahl and I have had many productive discussions on how to best streamline this program to make it more efficient and more “user friendly” (if you’ll excuse me for using that term) for the students AND instructors. As the program currently operates, there are far more students taking the Correspondence Course Option than the actual classroom instruction. In many cases, the reason for this disparity lies with the fact that very few instructors are offering classes for students to have a viable option. Obviously students can gain far more from a classroom atmosphere that from merely reading and memorizing information from a student manual. Since the quality of the classroom experience coupled with a built in Field Day is far superior to the correspondence option, we strongly encourage instructors to consider providing a classroom teaching option for eager students.

Perhaps the least intimidating way to conduct a class is to “team teach.” Two or four instructors each take a portion of the training and lighten the burden on each other. Once you’ve taught your first class, the anxiety will quickly dissipate and you’ll be the kind of teacher these young people will never forget.

The major hurdle to overcome with the correspondence course is the In Field Training requirement. Students who complete the written portion are stacked up awaiting In Field Training to complete their certification. If this requirement hasn’t been fulfilled, they’re unable to purchase a license. Due to the fact that students are completing the course at various times, setting them up with In Field instructors proves to be quite a daunting task. Ideally only Certified Instructors would provide this training, but it has become apparent that there simply aren’t enough available instructors in a position to provide this training on a random basis. As a result, many students are left awaiting the next available field outing.

Deb and I will be asking the Board of Directors for several actions to help lesson the demands on relatively few active instructors. In the interest of speeding up the process and moving these students through certification as efficiently as we can, we are making an appeal to the Board to relax instructor qualifications at this time.

A letter outlining some of these suggestions is included in this copy of the Newsletter. This is to only be a temporary suspension of the qualifications until we can solidify an annual training schedule across the State on a district to district basis. We will be asking the Board to allow Directors to either head or appoint someone from their district area to coordinate with Education to provide at least one but preferably two class opportunities at specified times each year Summer/Spring Fall/Winter etc. At the very least, it should be possible for students to gather either during or immediately after district meetings to fulfill the In Field requirement if enrolled in the Correspondence Course Option.

With so many trappers gathered at one location, what could be easier than a handful of trappers showing some young people basic sets etc. either real or simulated right after a district meeting? If accepted, this could really help to alleviate some of the frustration waiting young people have had to endure. Some have been waiting for many, many months. The last thing we want to do is to STAND IN THE WAY of young people eager to purchase licenses in order to get into the field. We believe that we can provide an annual offering of courses at specified places within the districts year in and year out so that young people can plan ahead for completing the certification process and hopefully eliminate for the most part, those last-minute emergency classes. In this manner, students will know approximately when classes will be offered in their districts. Perhaps these might even be published in the Game Synopsis.

The Correspondence Course Option should always be available for special cases but ideally, the more students we can put through a sit-down class the better for the students as well as the resources.

If our goals have always been to raise the learning curve of those entering the field for the first time AND improving the sport’s image to the public, the best way to accomplish this has always been to foster mentor relationships between experienced sportsmen and novices. These relationships are more easily forged through a classroom setting and Field Day demonstrations. All this effort will be worth it knowing that we are putting ethical young sportsmen and women into the field. To not make this investment is to put the future of this sport in jeopardy.

We look forward to discussing these suggestions and gathering input from the Board. Make the investment folks to do less is irresponsible. Please contact Deb or Shawn for additional information or class materials.
Keep your skinning knives sharp!

— Shawn Johnson

DISTRICT 7 REPORT

Hello fellow trappers. On Feb. 14, District 7 had its spring meeting in Dovary. This was the same location as last year and once again we had a nice turn out. Along with some of the familiar faces, we had some new members there as well. Also in attendance were some board members that came from far away including Gabby Hayes, Cory and Deb VanDriel, Dave and Julie D’Aigle. Jim Blakely also made the long drive over. The meeting went well. I informed the members on what was discussed at the last board meeting, which included some proposed legislative ideas to be presented to the membership to be voted on at the summer convention.

For all the details on these issues, be sure to look for them in the MTA newsletter. At the end, we had a raffle to raise money for the .50 caliber Thompson Center Omega muzzleloader District Seven has on the MTA Raffle. I am happy to report that all the prizes for the raffle were donated. Thank you to Schmitt Enterprises, North American Fur Auctions, Jason Weibke, Dead Coyote Snares and the MTA. After the raffle, a lunch was served. Thank you to Angie Cohrs and Geri Carter for helping my wife, Denise with preparing and serving the lunch. Thank you to Julie D’Aigle for helping clean up. It was well appreciated by all.

We had two fur demos. I did a demo on beaver fur handling and Shannon Cohrs did a demo on coyotes. The demos were well attended. Questions were asked and answered so they were able to pick up information to help them with their fur handling.

I would like to thank Kyle Thaemlitz and Shawn Ryan for the donation to the tanned fur project. Between the two of them, they donated about a ½ truckload of fur. Thank you for your support. If anyone else would like to donate, please contact Shannon Cohrs or myself.

District 7 will be having a booth again at the Tracy Area Sportsmen’s Show. The date of this is April 18 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on the 19 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. If you have some extra time, please consider helping out at the show. On Saturday, April 18, there will also be a Women’s Expo and a Car Show. Please contract me if you are able to help.

Also, on April 25 and 26 there will be a gun show in Worthington at the Arena. I am thinking about having a table at that show. Please keep this weekend in mind if you have extra time to help out and let me know.

— Leon Windschitl

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