Few getting rich on legal trapping in Ohio

FUR

Few getting rich on legal trapping in Ohio

Arctic blasts remind Ohio inhabitants that, global warming notwithstanding, snarling winter has yet to misplace its ancient fangs.

furTo help escape winter’s prolonged and deadly bite, furbearing animals long ago evolved to grow a lavish and sometimes velvety coat that humans often purloined to ward off the lethal chill.

The sacrificed animals might’ve gotten a raw deal, but animals were relatively plentiful and people relatively few. The system appears harsh to some contemporary eyes, but it gave each collective species, whether a giver or a taker, a pretty good shot at continued survival, which basically is what the biological process — that is, life — is about.

After a time, though, people sheltered in warm houses found other motivations for gathering furs from the land, no matter who or what lived on it and depended upon it. That pecuniary-based system, which encouraged takers to gather as much as they could — even to the depletion of the resource — helped open and then transform a continent.

Any judgment on such a system, whether positive or negative, must be tempered by the recognition that it remains dominant, accepted and mostly unquestioned, though the trapping of animals and the selling of their fur no longer play but a minuscule part in it.

People who play at that tiny part these days surely can’t be accused of greed. Beaver pelts, 185 in number, averaged $9.66 at this year’s final fur auction conducted by the Ohio State Trappers Association in March. Three otter pelts fetched $50 each. Coyotes brought an average of $15.42, gray foxes $13.50, red foxes $11.24, minks $5.47, raccoons $3.17, muskrats $2.33, skunks $1.74 and opossums $.95.

It seems hardly possible that such prices for the product of hard, skilled and prolonged work equal something close to minimum wage. As consolation, perhaps, at least today’s trappers aren’t often the objective of tomahawks and arrows let loose by angry natives or of muzzleloader balls fired by avaricious and conscience-free rivals.

A number of furbearers, including fox, raccoon, skunk, opossum, weasel, mink and muskrat, have been legal to trap in Ohio since Nov. 10. Mink and muskrat trapping may continue through Feb. 28, but trapping for others on the list is not permissible in most of the state after Jan. 31.

The day after Christmas, meanwhile, trappers may legally target beavers and river otters, a season that runs statewide through Feb. 28.

The beaver, often thought of as the backbone, so to speak, of the fur-trapping business in North American history, has bounced back sufficiently in Ohio to permit the taking of an unlimited number of pelts by individuals. However, given the realities and limitations that the setting and checking of traps entail, individuals aren’t likely in two-plus months to end up with a mound of furs strapped on the dogsled.

The pursuit of river otters, which were absent from Ohio for most of the 20th century until the Ohio Division of Wildlife established a resettlement program in 1986, comes with serious restrictions.

At most, a trapper may take three river otters during a season. Trappers may take their three in any of 32 eastern and southeastern counties designated as Zone C. A single otter may be taken in any of the dozen counties, including Franklin, Fairfield, Licking, Pickaway and Delaware, designated as Zone B.

In the remaining counties of western, southwestern and northern Ohio, designated as Zone A, no river otter may be taken legally.

Turkey take

Hunters checked 2,168 wild turkeys during the fall wild turkey season, open from early October through late November in 56 Ohio counties. That was an increase of 633, or 41.2 percent, from the 2015 fall total of 1,535.

The increase, likely tied to the widespread, cyclical summer hatch of 17-year cicadas on which this year’s crop of young turkeys fed, bodes well for an abundance of wild turkeys during the spring hunt. That’s provided, of course, winter doesn’t take too many.


Originally posted by Dave Golowenski For The Columbus Dispatch
Saturday December 17, 2016 7:37 PM

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