Myths & Facts
Foothold traps are effective because they can be concealed.
MYTH: Foothold traps are dangerous to humans and pets.
FACT: Foothold traps are not a threat to humans. Commonly used types and sizes spring harmlessly beneath human feet. Attended pets can be released easily, without harm, by simply compressing the trap springs.
MYTH: Foothold traps are antiquated, and haven't changed in design for hundreds of years.
FACT: Foothold trap designs continually change. Spiked or serrated jawed traps have not been commercially made for many years. Newer models offer improved swiveling, shock absorbing springs, rounded or padded jaw surfaces, and improved leverage principles that allow lesser spring pressures. All of these improvements help reduce or totally eliminate injuries.
MYTH: Foothold traps cause excessive damage to trapped limbs.
FACT: Virtually all scientific tests confirm that regularly tended and properly sized foothold traps do not cause significant, permanent, or life-threatening injuries. Many trapped animals simply rest or nap when they discover they are effectively restrained.
MYTH: Far more non-target animals and birds are caught in foothold traps than target animals.
FACT: Relatively few non-furbearers are caught in foothold traps set for furbearers. Trigger adjustments, selective set constructions and selective baits minimize non-target catches. Contrary to killing types of traps, foothold traps allow the release of accidental non-target catches.
MYTH: Hundreds of countries have outlawed the use or possession of foothold traps.
FACT: Some countries have outlawed foothold traps, and investigation usually identifies countries without an abundance of wildlife, furbearers, or predators. Most countries with an abundance of furbearers or predators rely on foothold traps to manage wildlife populations and to catch damage causing animals.
MYTH: Trappers favor foothold traps because they are inexpensive.
FACT: Foothold traps are popular because they are versatile, work in a variety of habitat types, and work best in different soil types and weather conditions. They are also favored because they are effective for all species while still allowing for the release of unwanted catches.
MYTH: Foothold traps are not accepted by the conservation community.
FACT: Foothold traps are recognized, accepted, and endorsed by the conservation community. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, The Wildlife Society, and a whole host of conservation organizations support the use and need for foothold traps.
MYTH: Endangered species are threatened with extinction due to foothold traps.
FACT: Most wildlife in America is more abundant than ever before. No endangered species is threatened by trapping today, and the loss of some wild species is due to habitat destruction, encroachment, pesticides and pollution. FACT: Trapping programs are in effect to protect endangered species from predators.
MYTH: Foothold traps torture animals.
FACT: Foothold traps apply pressure to two sides of an animals foot, and this causes numbness. Several blood chemistry changes also occur to foothold trapped animals which reduce or completely eliminate the perception of pain. These include higher levels of betaendorphine, cortisol, thyroxine and insulin. FACT: Scientists have monitored many animals with radio sending units during trapping experiences. We have learned that heart rates and body temperature elevate quickly after the capture, but soon settle down to nearly normal. Video taped observations also prove trapped animals soon settle down when they discover they are securely held in a foothold trap.
MYTH: Wild animals deliberately chew off their feet in frantic efforts to escape foothold traps.
FACT: Wild animals never bite themselves where they can feel pain. Some species may bite at the trap and numbed foot beneath the trap jaws, and without feeling they simply do not recognize their own foot. The vast majority of species do recognize their foot and will not bite it. Animals in foothold traps do not bite at their legs above the trap jaws because they have feeling there, and animals cannot be made to deliberately harm themselves.
MYTH: Foothold traps should not be used to catch furbearers on farmlands because the traps are a hazard to game animals and livestock.
FACT: Game animals and livestock with hooved feet are not threatened by foothold traps. These trap designs often spring harmlessly beneath their feet, and a tapered foot can usually be pulled from a foothold trap with a minimum of effort.
MYTH: The stress of a trapping experience is harmful.
FACT: Scientific data confirms animals are only slightly stressed by a trapping experience. Measurements indicate that more stress occurs to the animal when it is being chased than occurs as a result of being trapped. Stress occurs naturally and is considered valuable for survival.
MYTH: Foothold Traps are the most dangerous of all trap designs, and should be replaced with safer trap designs.
FACT: Foothold traps are much safer than other practical trap designs. Snares and body gripping traps are often lethal devices which prevent release of non- target catches. Leg snares are far less practical and contribute to more significant and permanent leg damage. Cage traps are refused by a significant number of wild species in need of population controls.
MYTH: Trappers aren't conservationists because they only set traps for the most profitable species.
FACT: Trappers tend to try to catch the most profitable species, however, large numbers of secondary target species are also taken in foothold traps. The result is trap- ping helps to maintain healthy balances and ratios of furbearer populations. In the case of skunks, society as well as the species is served very well by trapping be- cause these species pose a real problem to waterfowl production, human and livestock health. FACT: Concerning conservation, trapping yields a very favorable male/female ratio. More males than females of most species are trapped, and the reason for this is males are often bolder and more aggressive at trap Sets. Too, males travel further than females, and this activity is more apt to expose the males to hazards including traps.
MYTH: Animals are held in traps for many days before the trapper arrives to check the trap sets.
FACT: Most traps are checked every day, and early in the morning. On average, according to research, animals are held in traps less than 8 hours in America.
MYTH: Foothold traps should be banned because they are non-selective.
FACT: No trap design can be considered 100% selective. A foothold trap set in a submerged muskrat burrow is very selective for muskrats or mink, and a bait of aspen is very selective as a beaver bait.
MYTH: Foothold traps are inhumane because they do not kill quickly.
FACT: Foothold traps offer versatility, and they can be used as humane quick kill traps for water oriented species. Muskrats, beavers, minks, and otters instinctively dive after being caught in foothold traps, and if the trapping system doesn't allow the animal to surface for air, death occurs quickly as a result of carbon dioxide narcosis. This is thought to be the most merciful and least stressful method to achieve a humane death for species accustomed to submergence.
MYTH: Wild animals fight foothold traps frantically until exhausted.
FACT: Most wild animals caught in traps make efforts to escape until they realize that they are securely held. Typically, wild animals will then relax until daylight, at which time they will test the trap again as it is their habit to retire to dens or other safe places during daylight hours. If not disturbed by the approaching trapper or other threats, most trapped animals simply rest during daylight hours.
MYTH: Leg snares are a better alternative to foothold traps.
FACT: Leg snares are difficult to set, are a threat to game animals and livestock, and are inefficient in different soil types and weather conditions. Leg snares do not work on short-legged species, or in water trapping situations for numerous species.
MYTH: Leg snares are much kinder to an animal.
FACT: Leg snares completely encircle trapped limbs, and this often leads to permanent damage to target and non- target species alike as circulation can be completely stopped to the affected limb. foothold traps may be more apt to cause superficial skin cuts, and this is an advantage as vascular pressure and swelling are reduced or eliminated.
Body gripping traps have excellent values, but do not allow release of accidental captures.
MYTH: Body gripping traps should be used by trappers because they render instant death.
FACT: Body gripping traps are effective for some species in some habitat types, but several important furbearing species are too shy and will avoid the traps. Body gripping traps often render death, and this is unacceptable where they are a threat to livestock and pets.
Cage traps are often used in cities to capture nuisance animals.
MYTH: Cage traps should replace other types of traps.
FACT: Cage traps only have limited values because many species refuse to enter cage traps. The safest trap to use where pets might be caught, many wild animals fight the traps in attempts to escape the close confinement.
MYTH: Trappers refuse to use more cage traps because they are costly.
FACT: Costs are a problem, and other problems include the fact that cage traps are more difficult to transport, and they are more visible and prone to thievery.
MYTH: Traps are not needed in this era to control wild animal populations.
FACT: Wildlife experts agree that traps and trapping are essential in the proper and wise management of wildlife. Because all wild species interact, and habitat is limited, population controls are needed annually to allow for reasonable health and living conditions for all wild species.
Destroying the Myth
The MTA Board of Directors will meet in December in Lewistown at the Yogo Inn. MTA members are encouraged to attend.
Deadline for articles, pictures and other information for the Fall newsletter is September 20, 2014. Articles received after that date will not be printed. To forward your report or for more information
2014 Rendezvous Photo Gallery
2014 Rendezvous Raffle and Winners List
First Annual Bitterroot Area Trappers Appreciation Camp-Out a Success!
I-169 and All Other Citizen Inititives Do Not Make Montana's November Ballot
Did You Know?
James Felix "Jim" Bridger (March 17, 1804 – July 17, 1881) was among the foremost mountain men, trappers, scouts and guides who explored and trapped the Western United States during the decades of 1820-1850, as well as mediating between native tribes and encroaching whites. He was of English ancestry, and his family had been in North America since the early colonial period.
The Hudson's Bay Company was started in 1670 along the James and Hudson Bays. Natives would barter furs for trade goods such as knives, beads, needles and blankets. HBC company is in their 4th Century of retail and still going strong.
Robert Campbell (1804-1879) was an American frontiersman, fur trader and businessman. He joined a fur trapping expedition to Rocky Mountains in 1825 with Jedediah Smith, Moses Harris, and Jim Beckwourth. He continued as a trapper and trader through most of the mountain man era.
Fort Leavenworth, 1867, was the first settlement in Kansas territory and is the oldest active Army post west of the Mississippi River. The fort initially served as a quartermaster depot, arsenal, and troop post, and was dedicated to protecting the fur trade and safeguarding commerce on the Santa Fe Trail.
From 1828-1867 Fort Union was the most important fur trading post on the Upper Missouri. Here, seven Northern Plains Indian Tribes, including the Assiniboine, traded buffalo robes and other furs for goods such as cloth, guns, blankets and beads. This fort was a bastion of peaceful coexistence, annually trading over 25,000 buffalo robes and $100,000 of merchandise.
The Mountain Men explored and opened up the Rocky Mountain region. The Rocky Mountain Fur Company (1822-1834) established the brigade system, with teams of trappers working together. In one year they could earn half a million dollars in pelts. Eventually they were outdone by Astor's American Fur Company. By 1834, the fur trade was being played out; Astor's and the Hudson's Bay trappers were all tough competitors.