Importance of hunting, fishing, trapping associations
Stuck in the house for five days during the winter storm and its aftermath got me to thinking just how important it is to put your money where your mouth is and join organizations that promote our love of outdoor activities. I realize there are a myriad of such groups out there, and obviously most of us cannot afford to join them all. So, like you, I have to pick and choose.
Since I am first and foremost a trapper, my tendency is to choose trapping, on both a national and a state level. I belong to both the National Trappers Association as well as Fur Takers of America. Both of these organizations do stellar work protecting our right to trap. Each organization over the years has built themselves a niche. The FTA devotes a huge proportion of their efforts to educating – both the general public as well as new trappers. The NTA has made them a force to be reckoned with in defending our right to trap, both through fighting adverse legislation as well as effectively utilizing our legal system through the use of lawsuits. Both of these organizations are worth your hard earned dollars to support by becoming a member.
However, all politics is local, like they say. With that in mind I would advocate that the most important organizations you belong to is your state trapping associations. These organizations deal with issues that will affect the way you trap. They are integral into dealing with the state DNR and the state legislation, writing and rewriting the regulations that will affect every day you trap. These are the folks who are on the front line every day dealing with the anti-trappers who work very hard to take away your right to trap.
Don’t want to get into politics you say? Politicians are all crooks you say? Fine. You don’t have to get involved personally, but the money you spend for your annual membership will help those who are more willing to get involved be more effective. Your membership also gives these state associations another tool – numbers. One of the first questions a legislator asks is how many members your organization has in their district. More members mean a more effective voice.
Let’s talk a bit about what the Illinois Trappers Association has done for their members over the last decade or some. As I’m sure you are aware, Illinois is one of the most political states in the union. Yet the ITA has successfully navigated these waters time and time again. Enjoy your otter and bobcat seasons? Like to keep your fur year-round so you can sell when you wish? What about the longer trapping season, allowing you to trap coyotes after deer season closes? Thank the ITA and their extremely effective legislative program.
Were you aware that anti-trapping legislation is introduced every single legislative session? You weren’t? That’s likely because the ITA and their legislative allies killed the bill before it saw the light of day.
The last reliable number I saw was that there are some 250,000 trappers in the country. Well less than 10% belong to a trapping organization. Here in Illinois there are about 7000 trapping licenses sold. The ITA membership numbers a few less than 700. If you are a member, note that you are doing one helluva job supporting trapping in this state. If you are not a member, these folks are carrying your load and they could use a little help. An annual membership is $35. For that you get a subscription to the nationally distributed trapping magazine, Trappers Post as well a voice in how the organization operates. A big chunk of your membership money goes to pay a contract lobbyist who works quite effectively for you in Springfield.