Days like today start with a decision. Do I post the really wonderful thing I discovered yesterday or the really annoying thing? Or do I try to post both like sweet and sour sauce in honor of Chinese New Year? It is not in my nature to avoid the irritant, so I think I will give you the unpleasantries sandwiched in between two excellent slices wholesome.
The first is a presentation by Carol Evans formerly with the BLM in Nevada. She presented recently at the Society for Range Management in Sparks Nv. There was a packed crowd of 300 and a host of presenters. One group focused on bringing back the Emerald Isles using “beaver as tools” for restoration. All 30 presentations are now online, but I’m going to share two of my favorites. Feel free to browse any or all of the others.
Isn’t Carol wonderful? She should look familiar to you because she was the woman in that first part of the Leave it to Beaver documentary who wanted to show the stored water to Suzanne Fouty. Carol has the earnest, intelligent, friend-making cooperative style that I most admire. It’s no wonder she could turn hearts in beaver’s favor. One of those grizzled hearts in particular will be the other presenter whose talk I will share at the end of this post. Stay tuned.
Now for the sour. How long has it been since we mocked a truly self-righteous trapping article? Too long, I said when I saw this in my inbox yesterday. Michael DeWitt of South Carolina wants you to understand that trappers are really much more than little angels of death, and work their dark magics for the benefit of all mankind.
Not all heroes wear capes. Some cruise around in camouflage gear, driving beat-up, green Ford pickups with a dog box in the back that reeks of beaver musk and coyote scent.
Trappers like Jake Gohagan may not be considered heroes down at PETA headquarters, but they are to hunters, local landowners and wild game management-minded folks. Gohagan, a 26-year-old Scotia resident and avid outdoorsman, rides the railroad for CSX during the day but fights invasive species like the dastardly coyote at night. Gohagan has been hunting and fishing his entire life, but began trapping roughly 7-8 years ago.
See? Jake’s a hero! See why I couldn’t resist writing about this? I commented on the article yesterday but it’s been deleted three times as “spam”. I’m quite sure that what ever choice words I had for Jake and the curiously named Mr DeWitt, it wasn’t spam.
“The fur market is gone, there really isn’t a fur market anymore,” Gohagan said, as took this writer on board during a January run of his trap lines. “Everything we do anymore is to improve the wildlife habitat for hunting and farming.”
Native predators and “varmints” like the coyote (a much-unwanted invasive species to our area), fox, bobcat, raccoon, and the like threaten the populations of game animals like the whitetail deer, quail, and turkey, either through direct predation or through disturbing nests and consuming eggs. Hunting that centers around these game animals brings millions of dollars annually into our state, and these dollars pour into wildlife conservation programs that ensure that our children and grandchildren can enjoy fish and game in the coming generations.
“During my first year trapping, I took 26 coyotes,” Gohagan said. “Can you imagine how many fawns 26 coyotes can eat? In my opinion, trapping is the most crucial part of game management.”
Gohagan generally uses live traps or rubber-jawed traps to avoid unwanted injury to animals. Not all animals that are caught are harvested, some are relocated. He baits these traps with commercial baits, often made of meat glands, crawfish oil, or shellfish oil. The smellier the bait, the better. Gohagan also sets conibear and snare traps for otters, which can wreak havoc on the fish population in a farm pond, and beavers, which can be downright destructive and expensive to deal with.
Did you catch that? This modern day St. Francis catches coyotes because he’s worried they’ll eat fawns and they’ll be less deer to hunt. No I’m not kidding. And he catches OTTER because you know, they eat all the fish which means we can’t catch them!
And the beaver? We’ll they’re just downright destructive!
There aren’t many trappers around these here parts because, frankly, it’s hard work and there isn’t any money in it.
“It’s a lost art,” says Gohagan. “There are only a handful of us left. This involves a lot of early, cold mornings. You have to be out there every morning, checking your traps at daylight. By law, you have to check them every 24 hours…It’s a good bit of work and it ain’t for a lazy person, that’s for sure.”
I really really believe it. Serial killing is time consuming and not for the feint of heart. Ruining nature takes a lot of time and effort and one has to climb into muddy waters and dark holes to get it done. You can’t just wait for death to come to you. You have to wake up and MAKE it!
Perhaps the most rewarding part of this interesting hobby—or mission, as Gohagan thinks of it—are the positive phone calls and remarks from hunters and landowners.
“My favorite part is hearing from the landowners about the number of fawns they are seeing, or their wildlife numbers going up. Plus, I just like outsmarting coyotes. I enjoy it and I wish more people would get involved in trapping. You get to spend time outdoors, away from society, and you get to help wildlife.
Help wildlife? Are you kidding me? “Please don’t help me, next” (Says every wild thing ever.) I suppose I can imagine a little socipathic ‘Dexter” type praising his true calling by lying this way, but it is BEYOND me why any reporter worth his spit would write down the ridiculous lies he spouts as if it were true.
Megan Isadore says it’s because the trapping lobby is well-funded by the NRA and works hard to promote the North American Model (NAM) which emphasizes that trapping is necessary for wildlife conservation, This article and others like it is a symbol of their success.
Maybe. But I’m partial to the notion that these “man-crushes” seize reporters because they are sick of their desk jobs, copy machines and coffee cups and like to imagine themselves on the great frontier swinging a pelt over their shoulders. (more…)