Predator-Prey Balance: The Art of Trapping

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It wasn’t that long ago that our forefathers used every bit of the natural resources to their advantage. Though hunting and gathering were the main food producers, trapping was a way to collect invaluable furs for sale and trade, or to create clothing during to persist through grueling winters. Though many today view hunting as an effective method of collecting coyote, bobcat, and wolf hides; the fact is trapping is by far the more efficient manner.

Labeled just as much of an art as it is a skill, trapping predators is a critical element of today’s wildlife management. Unlike generations past, the number of trappers in the U.S. has steadily declined and in response furbearer numbers for many species are at all time highs. From coyotes to beavers to wolves, the impact of high predator numbers on many highly pursued game species is evident. Many states have witnessed a dramatic decrease in deer numbers, particularly fawn production due to uncontrolled coyote populations. Although some areas with overabundant deer herds may actually benefit from this, many areas of poor habitat (consequently poor fawning cover) have experienced dramatic declines in the overall deer population. Wetlands that provide fantastic waterfowl hunting have been greatly changed due to the expansion and growth of beaver populations. Though many assume more water means more room for waterfowl, the negative impact on waterfowl’s preferred vegetation is significant. Lastly, the conservation story of wolves is one of great highs and lows, but most of all an important reminder of the balance needed to arrive at sustainable populations. Because of the hesitation to pull the trigger and remove many packs from extreme protection, elk and mule deer populations have taken significant hits.

Though there is a learning curve to trapping, it is something that all outdoorsmen and women can easily become familiar with. Whether you are like The Buck Advisors client, Ryan Michl of Illinois Wildlife Connections, who removes a significant amount of coyotes, beavers and raccoons every year

for profit but also to balance the predator-prey interaction; or the landowner who wishes to just see a few more deer and turkeys, all can be accomplished through trapping. With most deer season over, and the lull between now and turkey season it is a great time to consider setting a few traps to manage predator populations. If you are interested in getting started, check out some of the packages The Buck Advisors trapping specialists have put together from Minnesota Trapline Products, the authority in trapping supplies.

**Images courtesy of Ryan Michl

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Originally published at on January 22, 2014.

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