Some states are struggling to maintain the ranks of their trappers, but not Pennsylvania.
Bob Frye/Everybody Adventures
It’s that time of year.
The Pennsylvania Trappers Association is offering classes in how to become a trapper. They’re being held at various points around the state in the next several weeks.
And not because of the money trapping can bring. These aren’t the days to try getting rich as a trapper.
Prices paid for pelts of species like raccoons and red foxes have been trending downward over the last few years. That’s the word from Matt Lovallo, game mammals section supervisor for the Pennsylvania Game Commission.
And yet, he added, the number of furtaker licenses sold by the commission – required of anyone trapping or hunting furbearers – have continued to climb.
Sales were 17,000 or 18,000 in 1999. They’ve increased virtually every year since, however.
From 2013 through 2015, the latest years available, sales averaged around 45,000 annually.
“Not only are the sheer number of furtakers unprecedented, the trend of increasing furbearer license sales and furtaker participation is just unheard of,” Lovallo said. “Many of our neighboring states are struggling to maintain trapper ranks and their current number of furtakers.”
Pennsylvania accounts for about 19 million trap nights and about $2.5 million in fur sales, he added.
Opportunity may be the reason.
Pennsylvania offered bobcat hunting and trapping beginning in 2000. Cable restraints became legal in 2005, fisher trapping in 2010 and otter trapping in 2016.
“I think part of this trend has been due to, over the years, we’ve continued to provide new challenges, new opportunities for our furbearers here in Pennsylvania,” Lovallo said. “With each of these new opportunities, we’ve seen a recruitment of trappers and furtakers into our ranks.”
Want to take a trapping class? Visit the Pennsylvania Trappers Association website here.