Live Free & Trap Top Ten Year in Review
Bust out the party hats and pour yourself a firm dram of high-end scotch - its officially the last day of 2017! While my 2017-18 trapping season is carrying on, I figured it would be nice to compile some of my favorite highlights and moments of 2017. All things considered, it was a great year for the website and my trapping advocacy outreach - something you can bet your Northeast frozen behind I'll continue to viciously fight for in 2018. So give the skinning knife a rest, and refresh your set with these top ten best moments for Furbearer Conservation in 2017:
#1: Sportsmen's Alliance and Truth About Fur team up!
January started off strong with modern trapping advocacy seeing an eclipse of support with two great organizations. The United States' Sportsmen's Alliance and Canada's Truth About Fur are two of the biggest social media presences when it comes to online trapping advocacy, so I was tickled to see Truth About Fur's educational fur trapping trade history video appear on the pages of the Sportsmen's Alliance's website. While not overly earth shattering; I hope this is just a taste of what's to come from the resources these two groups could pool by working together. Both these groups have been immensely supportive of myself, FurbearerConservation.com, and my efforts to advance furbearer management and trapping advocacy. Sportsman's Alliance has also teamed up with pro-trapping organizations like Fur Takers of America recently, which continues to advance the activities and validity of trapping in the broader online hunting market. If there was a Fantasy Football league for trapping - both these groups would be my A players!
#2: The Gov'nah's Trapper Ed'
In February, I had the honor of briefly talking trapping with New Hampshire's newly elected Governor, Chris Sununu. The governor of any state is typically a busy individual, so the fact that I was able to bend the ear of NH's governor, even for a moment at an agricultural expo, is a win in my book!
#3: Don't Be So Hard On The Beev!
This was friggin' awesome. In April, I had the pleasure of being interviewed by the team of NH Public Radio's Outside/In for their story on beaver trapping and management. It was truly satisfying to bring the team from NHPR out on my February beaver trapline; and even though the trap checks all came up empty, host Sam, and tech crew members Molly and Logan mic'ed me up and spent the afternoon talking trapping in the wilderness. They even sampled some of my fresh beaver jerky! A truly refreshing experience with some folks who hopefully have new insight into the activity of regulated trapping, and why many licensed trappers do what they do in the 21st century.
Now I know what you're thinking, and I'd be the first to admit that the majority of NPR's audience probably doesn't hold too much of the hunting and trapping class in America. But its important to remember that one important aspect of journalism is to present new and fresh ideas to your audience - which is exactly what this story did. My commentary was mixed in with that of fellow local trapper Carol Leonard, and NH state furbearer biologist Pat Tate - facts and commentary that rumor has it didn't sit well with the anti-trapping crowd.
After the airing of the story, there were a few "beaver-eccentrics" who took to the comment section of the podcast to shame NHPR, question their journalism, attempt to demean the credibility of the show's host, and of course attacked Carol, the female trapper who was interviewed. You know you're doing something right when you have critics - and I have to say that this managed to show the typical character of who wildlife management pro’s are up against. When the facts don't jive with an agenda, I guess you can just substitute your own and attack credibility - even when it comes from a neutral playing field such as NHPR. The comment section under the posting of the online story rests my case. Facts and information won this round in my humble opinion.
#4: The New Hampshire Dumpster Cat
New Hampshire wildlife management officials attempted to enact a limited bobcat hunting and trapping season in 2015/16. The proposal was met with national attention, criticism from anti-hunting groups, and was subsequently withdrawn due to pressure from political pressure. Outdoor enthusiasts from all areas of the management world warned of growing issues with bobcats predicted to plague the Granite State as a result - and June 2017 was no exception. Elsie Dabrowski was working in her garden when she was attacked by a rabid bobcat. The 80 year-old Dabrowski required 60 stitches as a result. This attack came on the heels of a flood of local media reports on the influx in bobcat interactions and issues. To add insult to injury, Mrs. Dabrowski was also attacked by some who accused her of "staging" the attack because her son was a trapper. This rough attempt to discredit an innocent 80 year old woman provoked me to write Rise of the Dumpster Cats - which comments on the four-year bobcat season debate in New Hampshire and the side effects of turning a blind eye to science and wildlife management. The article went viral, and still resides as one of my most shared, read, and top grossing articles in both New Hampshire and internationally. It also prompted the social media hashtag #NHDumpsterCat
#5: John Stossel: Exposing HSUS and Faux-Conservation
The Humane Society of the United States, along with their long list of partners are on my “naughty list” for a myriad of reasons. In July, journalist John Stossel reports on one very important aspect of the HSUS and preservationist agenda. These groups tend to advocate for animal welfare whilst soliciting and campaigning for donation funding, however, as the video below points out, their agenda is far from animal welfare and more in tune with extremism. How can we expect these groups to be supportive of conservation and wildlife management, when they won't even support the selling of fake animal parts to reduce the poaching and exploitation of the actual animal itself. I'm over here shaking my damn head - as usual with these hacks.
#6: Live Free Facelift
Also in July, the website received a much needed facelift and redesign. The new website server is more modern, easier to maintain, and adds a slicker look. I also managed to add additional sections and resources including studies, references, and a few other odds and ends. I'm anticipating some even bigger advancements in 2018 - including more resources and maybe even a Furbearer Conservation store! Stay tuned!
#7: Truth About Fur - Revisited
Canadian fur trapping advocacy website Truth About Fur has become an online force to be reckoned with in regards to separating fact from sensationalism. I've had the pleasure of writing articles for them in the past, including Champion of Wild Resources, and had some of my well known articles shared on their site, including Sportsmen Must Unite. August saw the F.C. brand (formerly Live Free And Trap) reunite with TAF for the sharing of my most popular article to date, Trappers: Conservation's Black Sheep or Unsung Heroes. Trappers internationally are very lucky to have these folks in their corner, and I expect the fun with TAF to continue in 2018.
#8: Trapper of the Year Award
Also in August, I was humbled, and very proud to be awarded the prestigious "Trapper of the Year" award from the New Hampshire Trappers Association. The trappers of NH have a rich history of advocating for healthy wildlife populations and sustainable use of our natural resources. I'd like to thank the Association for their continued support and advocacy.
#9: Fur Trapping and Isotopes
One of the biggest aspects of my advocacy for modern trapping revolves around the scientific benefit trapping provides the natural world today. There's many, many different aspects of these examples, and the general non-trapping public very rarely gets to see this side of fur trapping. Just as my trapping season started ramping up in November, I was contacted by local independent biologists to assist with a need for hair samples to study isotope characteristics in different furbearer species. Whom better to acquire hair samples from beaver, raccoon, fox and others than a licensed trapper right? I snapped a picture of some of the samples I was sending out, just before they hit the mailbox, in an attempt to document an aspect of modern trapping that is grossly overlooked. The image below made the rounds on social media platforms and was well received by trappers and biologists internationally. Around this same time, the trappers of New Hampshire were called upon to assist with biological studies on Fisher tissue, by turning in unused portions of carcasses for disease research. No matter what some folks want to say about us, our trapping activities are scientifically validated.
#10: The Strutzone NWTF All Access
By far my favorite event of 2017 was sitting down with Fred Bird of the National Wild Turkey Federation and talking trapping. I was a featured guest on Fred's NWTF podcast, and had the opportunity to dissect the in's and out's of modern trapping and our uphill battles with the anti-hunting movement. Our chat on the Turkey Federation's podcast is a direct example of different sportsmen's groups coming together and embracing each other as mutual stewards to the land and conservation. You can listen to the full podcast below - I encourage you to give it a listen. It speaks for itself!
Bonus Round: Animal Rights & Legislation Roundup
2017 saw some funky anti-hunting activity - and there's no way I could cover it all here; but some of the highlights from these kooky kids includes protesting Canadian Mounties for wearing muskrat fur, demanding video game characters stop wearing fur, and groups like The Humane Society demanding pet shelters feed dogs an all-vegan diet.
Here in New Hampshire, we saw the anti-trapping Beaver Protection Bill introduced (which was killed, and has since returned for the 2018 legislative session), Senate Bill 48 which sought to dismantle the management of our Fish & Game Department, and several HSUS-driven bills. Nationally, we saw HR-1438, which has been introduced by Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY), and an attack on the USFWS CITES program on exports of bobcat and otter skins, via a lawsuit by extremist groups. We continue to monitor this legislation, and prepare for expected future attacks on conservation, management, our culture, and our way of life.
Happy New Year Conservationists!
I wish you all a happy and healthy 2018. Happy Trappin' baby!