North Carolina Trappers Association August 2013 Report

www.nctrapper.org

 

President — Tony White, 1318 Soundneck Rd. Elizabeth City, NC 27909; 252-330-2327

Vice President — Neal Jennings, 3037 Shady Grove Ch. Rd. East Bend, NC 27018; 336-699-3947

Secretary — Sharon Underwood, 4488 NC 218, Peachland, NC 28133; 704-272-7876

Membership Secretary/Merchandise Coordinator — Darien Huffman, 382 Zimmerman Road, Lexington, NC 27295; 336-775-4778

Assistant Membership Secretary — Vacant

Treasurer — Joey Smith, 262 Mewborn Church Road, Snow Hill, NC 28580; 919-738-4683

NTA Director — Nelson Pearce, 5612 Hopkins Chapel Rd., Zebulon, NC 27597; (H)919 269 6710; (C) 919 868 5592; nelsonpearce@att.net

General Organizer — David Underwood, 4488 NC 218, Peachland, NC 28133; 704-272-7876

Education Coordinator — Todd Menke, 2663 Tar River Rd., Creedmoor, NC 27522; 919-528-9063;
minkster@netzero.net

Newsletter Editor — Josh Biesecker, 307 Bridget Way, Creedmoor, NC 27522; 919-880-4046

 

Membership Options:

• Individual membership including subscription to Trapper & Predator Caller — $25

• Youth membership (under age 16) with subscription to Trapper & Predator Caller — $15

• Lifetime membership with subscription to Trapper & Predator Caller — $350

• Senior citizens 70 years or older with subscription to Trapper & Predator Caller — $20

• Youth supporter without subscription — $10

• Adult supporter without subscription — $15

• Lifetime supporter without subscription — $100

 

Complete membership application on first page of association section and send dues to:

NCTA, Membership Secretary

Darien Huffman

382 Zimmerman Road

Lexington, NC 27295

 

PRESIDENT’S REPORT

Hello fellow NC trappers, I hope this report finds you doing well. I am going to start this report the same as my last one. I have added all the up to date information that I have on our legislative issues and I hope that I have laid it out so that you can understand it clearly.

On April 4th 2013,a bill was introduced into the NC senate to ban all bodygrip traps from dryland in NC. Thats right, I said BAN ALL BODYGRIP TRAPS FROM DRYLAND! This bill was introduced by senator Norman Sanderson and was co-sponsored by senator Brent Jackson. Senator Jackson is also co-chair of the senate agriculture committee and a houndsman. This bill sprang from an incident that happened last trapping season in which 2 hunting dogs were caught in #220 conibear bucket sets. The trapper had written permission from the land owner,the traps were legally set and the hunters and their hounds were trespassing. Here is a copy of the bill;

SENATE BILL 689 Short Title: Amend Trapping Law. (Public) Sponsors: Senators Sanderson (Primary Sponsor); Goolsby and Jackson. Referred to: Agriculture/Environment/Natural Resources. April 4, 2013

*S689-v-1*

A BILL TO BE ENTITLED 1

AN ACT TO AMEND THE TRAPPING LAW RELATING TO CONIBEAR TYPE TRAPS. 2

The General Assembly of North Carolina enacts: 3

SECTION 1. G.S. 113-291.6(d) reads as rewritten: 4

“(d) Conibear type traps that have an inside jaw spread or opening (width or height) 5 greater than seven and one-half inches and no larger than 26 inches in width and 12 inches in 6 height may only be set in the water and in areas in which beaver and otter may be lawfully 7 trapped. For the purposes of this section: 8

(1) A water-set trap is one totally covered by water with the anchor secured in 9 water deep enough to drown the animal trapped quickly. 10

(2) In areas of tidal waters, the mean high water is considered covering water. 11

(3) In reservoir areas, covering water is the low water level prevailing during the 12 preceding 24 hours. 13

(4) Marshland, as defined in G.S. 113-229(n)(3), is not considered dry land.” 14

SECTION 2. This act is effective when it becomes law.

Myself and Mike Mann,our lobbyist went to work straight away and contacted the wildlife Resources Commission. They were as suprised by the bill as we were. We then set about forming a plan to fight this bill. I drafted an outline for a letter to be sent to the members of the senate AG Committee and posted it on our website on April 11th and we also posted their contact information. To all those who took the time to send them out,you have my sincerest gratitude.

Here is a copy of the letter sent to the senate AG committee. It may come in handy if we have to conintue this fight in the House of Represenatives;

Dear Senator,

I am writing to you on behalf of myself and other concerned property owners and wildlife managers in this district about sb 689,which is being considered by your committee during this session.

This bill will outlaw all bodygrip traps on dryland in our state. This will severely handicap landowners and property managers when it comes to controlling nuisance animals on their land. Raccoons, opossums, skunks, groundhogs and nutria are just a few of the animals that these traps are employed to control. Animal damage control agents also commonly rely on these traps to capture raccoons and squirrels in attic spaces for homeowners.

This bill encroaches heavily on a land owners rights to manage their property by taking away one of the most effective tools at their disposal. Raccoons,skunks,and opossums are all common carriers of the rabies virus and are all serious depredation threats to ground nesting birds such as turkey,quail and waterfowl.

This bill would also make it illegal to catch otters in the water in traps larger than 7 1/2 nches by 7 1/2 inches (220). Many beaver are caught at present in larger traps set for otter (280s and 330s). The result of this rule change will be fewer beaver harvested throughout the state and more expensive problems for landowners,local governments and the NCDOT. 

I urge you to vote no on sb689 and let the landowners and wildlife managers of our state know that their rights are important to you.

On April 17th, Tonnie Davis,Claudie Taylor, David Denton, Mike Mann and myself went to Raleigh and had a meeting with senator Sanderson. We explained our side of the situation and offered the following compromise to an all out ban;

1) Mandatory education for all first time trappers in order to obtain a trapping license.

2) Developing a set of best management practices outlining proper use of conibear type traps on dryland.

3) Prohibiting the use of baited plastic buckets with bodygrip traps and give the alternative of using a wooden box with the trap recessed a minimum of 8 inches and an entrance restricted to 60 square inches ( 6”x10”).

All of these changes could be done through rule change by the WRC without need of legislation. I realize this will not sit well with everyone but if we continue to use plastic buckets with conibears,we will loose the use of conibears altogether on dryland.

This meeting produced no results as the houndsmen are not much on compromise. We met with Gordon Myers, NCWRC director and discussed the compromises that we proposed. We gained the full backing of the WRC and also through Mike’s contacts, we also gained the backing of Farm Bureau represented by Paula Gupton Page, Weyerhauser Lumber represented by Nancy Thompson, The North Carolina Foresters Association represented by Bob Sullivan and the NCDOT. We were also told that the USDA did oppose this but could not get directly involved. The backing of these organizations is huge and I am eternally grateful for their support.

The bill came before the senate agriculture committee on May 7th at 11:00 am. We showed up with a small army of trappers, and a small army of lobbyists from both Weyerhauser and Farm Bureau. The Wildlife Resources Commission also showed up in force to oppose the bill just as they said they would. I was expecting the same from the houndsmen and was surprised to see only 4 of them show up. I can tell you that they are not use to being the smaller group in the room. The AG committe quickly realized that this was not going to fit into their schedule and we were told to come back on Thursday the 9th at 9:00 am. Mike Mann informed me that he had been approached by senator Sanderson and we were invited to a meeting in his office at 8:00 am on Thursday before the AG committee meeting. Present at this meeting were myself,David Denton, Mike Mann, Paula Page from Farm Bureau, Gordan Myers and his assistants, and three of the four houndsmen mentioned earlier. We once again laid out the compromises that we were willing to make, Gordon Myers echoed most of what we said and the houndsmen expressed their desire for a total ban. I had built a model conibear box to demonstrate and we showed it to the houndsmen. They still wanted more and I told them we would not go any further. This AG committee meeting was also postponed and we scheduled to meet again on Tuesday, May 14th. The houndsmen use this tactic quite often, delaying repeatedly until our numbers dwindle and they can get their way unopposed.

On May 14th, the bill was presented to the senate ag committee. While our suggestions were incorporated into the bill, there were also more restrictions added. Senator Sanderson told the committee that all stakeholders had signed off on this amended version of the bill. I had signed up to speak so I stood before the ag committee and told them that we had not signed off and that the NCTA in fact opposed this bill. I told them that the added restrictions would cripple us in our use of this most valuable tool. Among these further restrictions;

1) 220 size bodygrip traps prohibited on dryland with the exception of the baited box described above. This means no 220s in trails or den sets etc.

2) 160 size bodygrips legal in trail sets with the restriction that they can be raised off the ground no higher 12 inches(top) on private land and 8 inches (top) on public land. 160s may also be used in a baited box with the same restrictions as the 220.

3) 220s and 160s may also be used in baited elevated sets with a height restriction of 4 ft. on private land and 5 ft. on public land.

There was also an amendment that stated that 220 size bodygrip traps could be used unrestricted if a damage permit was secured from the Wildlife resources commission. This means damage would have to be proven. This would not help landowners who are trying to manage wildlife such as small game,quail,turkey and waterfowl as these are wild animals and can not be counted as damaged property. The WRC backed this version of the bill and this sparked confusion among the other organizations involved. With the WRC changing it’s position,they did not know whether or not to oppose or support this version. The bill passed the senate ag committee and then it passed the full senate. As a side note to this, I want to mention that Joe Mclees, the lobbyist for the NC sporting dogs association, brought in the Humane Scociety to ask that all bodygrip traps be outlawed. This shows the lengths that these folks are willing to go to get their way. It then moved on to the house. We wrote another letter, this one aimed at the house. In the letter, we urged the house members to add an amendment to the bill that would allow the unrestricted use of bodygrip traps if the trapper has the written permission of the landowner. We waited for word of the ag committee taking up the bill but the news that we got was that the committee had not the time or wish to take up the bill during this session.

So,at this time, the bill seems to have been shelved. The legislature seems to have run out of time and if so, we will have to start the process all over again in the senate next session. This does give us more time to prepare. I urge you all to get to know who your representatives are. Make contact with them and let them know how you feel about these issues. You can also talk to your landowners and urge them to contact these people. They can speak to them from the point of view a property owner who doesn’t need any more restrictions on how they manage their own land. In the mean time, we have to do our best to be responsible of how and where we are setting bodygrip traps. The last thing that we need is another incident like the one that started this whole thing. Please keep this in mind when you are setting traps this fall.

In other legislative news, the year round coyote trapping bill was defeated in the house. This bill would have allowed for the out of season trapping of coyotes by permit with the stipulation that the coyotes be killed and not sold to the pens. The pen owners and hunters opposed this as they wanted year round access to these animals. This would have made it harder for enforcement to regulate and distinguish legally caught animals from those caught and transported illegally taken.

I want to take the time here to thank Michael Mann, our lobbyist who is our eyes and ears in Raleigh. Without his help, knowledge and guidance, we would have had zero chance of fighting the conibear bill. His contacts are the reason that we were invited to sit in on meetings and have input as to what was going into the final draft. I am by no means happy with the changes that are proposed,but just think of what would have happened if we had no say at all in the matter. These people were well on their way to outlawing all killer traps on dryland. We owe Mike Mann a great deal of gratitude for all of his efforts. I still don’t know how all of this is going to play out,but at least we are prepared now for the fight. I would also like to thank a few others who took their time to come to the public hearings and be counted. David Denton, Tonnie Davis,Nelson Pearce,Leary Sink,Dan Jones,Billy Holland,Eric Storey,David Thomas,John Deans,Claudie Taylor,Bill Shovel,John Caldwell,Kevin Myers,Shane Phillips,Darien Huffman,Ryan Willet and Charles Sanders.

Our advanced trappers course held May 17-19th at the Millstone 4-H Camp in Ellerby,NC was a smashing success. We had 38 students and all the feedback that I am getting is really positive. I could not be more proud of our instructors as they all gave 110% to the students. Our education director Todd Minke deserves a large portion of the credit for making sure that the whole operation ran smoothly. His hard work and organizational skills made our (the instructors) job easy. I can’t wait ‘til next year to do it again.

We had a BOD meeting on June 23rd and discussed these topics as well as our upcoming fall convention. you will soon receive our summer news letter that will contain news on the convention and raffle tickets for our gun raffle. I hope to see you all there .As you plan on what supplies that you are going to buy with your fur check, please set some aside for the convention vendors to show them your support.

I’ll close for now as I think that I have given you plenty of food for thought. These attacks on our right to trap are not going to just go away. We must meet them head on and stand up for our sport. Trapping is usually an individual activity. Trappers are loners by nature. We must get better at organizing our ranks to meet these challenges. This is the only way we will survive. As always, take a youngster along with you on your outdoor adventures if you can. They are our future. — Tony W. White

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