Sunday, February 5th, 2023
Sunday, February 5th, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

Trapping licenses will be subject to new law

Springfield — As veteran trapper Neal Graves put it, “trapping is no longer stuck in the 1960s and ‘70s.”

Changes in laws, changes in techniques, changes in trapping equipment, changes in seasons – and changes in the people interested in trapping – led the Illinois Trappers Association to push legislation this year that brings everyone up to speed on the sport.

House Bill 5079, introduced in February and signed into law in August, requires new trappers or anyone who has not held a valid trapping license within three years to provide evidence of competency – most will have to take a trapper education course, which is similar to the state’s hunter safety courses.

“From our point of view, we wanted to make sure that trappers in Illinois were protected from people getting into trapping who really don’t know what they are doing,” said Graves, of East Peoria, who serves as vice president of the ITA. “We want educated trappers out on the trapline to make sure we are upholding our solid reputation.”

Rep. Wayne Rosenthal, R-Litchfield, chief sponsor of HB 5079, said an upswing in fur prices the last few years and the introduction of river otter trapping – along with the possibility of a bobcat trapping season – has led to an increase in the number of Illinois residents trapping for the first time.

“It has been found that many of these trappers have little or no real knowledge of how to trap, resulting in an increase in non-targeted animals being inadvertently captured,” Rosenthal explained.

The state sold a total of 7,782 resident trapping licenses in 2013, a jump from the 6,320 it sold in 2012 and the 4,944 it sold in 2011. Already in 2014, two months before the start of the state’s trapping seasons, DNR has distributed 3,458 trapping licenses – nearly as many as were sold in all of 2009.

Because the new trapping license law does not go into effect until Jan. 1, trappers will be able to purchase licenses for the 2014-15 season under the old requirements.

The last trapping license law in Illinois was passed in 1985. That law, currently still in effect, states that no person under 18 years of age may be issued a trapping license unless they present a valid Trapper Education Certificate of Competency issued by DNR or they present evidence that he or she has held a trapping license issued by Illinois or another state in a prior year.

Trapper education

DNR provides trapper education courses for the public and also certifies outside organizations to offer the course. The courses, which by law must be at least eight hours in length, teach prospective trappers proper techniques and equipment to use in order to trap safely and humanely. These courses emphasize laws, regulations and responsible behavior.

For convenience sake, in recent years DNR has began offering an online trapper education course, a national site that can be found at

In addition to basic techniques, trappers should also understand the principles of wildlife management and should cooperate with landowners, other sportsmen and managers of the publics’ natural resources. Persons completing the minimum eight hours of instruction and successfully completing the final examination will receive a Certificate of Competency.

For long-time trappers, the fact that others out on the trapline will be educated on laws and responsibilities is good news.

“There seems to be a growing interest in trapping for all furbearers in the state, and there are a number of reasons,” John Wilson, an Illinois Receiving agent for North American Fur Auctions and a DNR Furbearer Fund Com­mittee­man, said. “Many people who used to trap in the southern part of the state kind of gave up because they didn’t think pelts were worth anything. Once we educated them on some changes in the market, many are getting interested again. We’re seeing that all over the state now.”

Trappers convention

The ITA’s 2014 Fall Convention will be held Oct. 3-4 at the Mercer County Fairgrounds in Aledo.

“We have a great demo schedule featuring some very notable trappers from both Illinois and several other states,” Graves said. “There’s a lot of things going on in the trapping world and in Illinois, and this is a good weekend to get caught up all in one place.”

For a list of demonstrations and presenters, along with a schedule of events, visit or call 309-989-7616.

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