All posts by PA Trappers

Otter Avoidance Techniques

Avoiding Otter Captures: The river otter population continues to increase through natural expansion of existing populations and reintroduction efforts. Trappers are urged to learn to identify otter sign and, where exist, to adopt the following recommendations to avoid the accidental capture of otters while trapping beavers: When using snares, set loops at 10 to 12 inches in diameter. Use baited sets for beavers where feasible. Avoid main channels in ponds and primary crossings where otter sign is present. Report accidental otter captures to your local wildlife conservation officer through your Pennsylvania Game Commission region office.


From the Pennsylvania Game Commission. Otter photo by Ken Thomas ( (personal website of photographer)) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Updates & Reminders

  1. Reminder to those trapping where Otters are; that they should be keeping their Coni-Bear triggers 2 inches from the side of the trap to avoid mistaken Otter catches. This isn’t a regulation but a great way to protect our Otters. For more information please see our post about Otter Avoidance Techniques.
  2. Dave Eckels is compiling information and photos to update our PTA history book.  If you have photos or information please contact him at
  3. This is an election year and there are several seats on the board that will need to be filled:  FTA Director and V.P.East.  For all positions please send resume to our election chairman, Tom Lane, at before the end of March.

Victory! The outcome of Question 1 (Maine)

Posted courtesy of the US Sportsmen’s Alliance.  Original article available here.

In a ballot initiative with national repercussions, Maine voters once again sent an unmistakable message to animal-rights extremists: stay out of our state.

For the second time in 10 years, Maine voters resoundingly rejected a ballot initiative backed and bankrolled by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). Throughout the battle on Question 1, which would have banned the use of bait, dogs and traps when bear hunting, sportsmen and professional wildlife managers who opposed the initiative continually maintained a double-digit lead in the polls.

“This is a great victory for sportsmen. It shows that scientific wildlife management can withstand a direct attack from the well-funded anti-hunting movement,” said Evan Heusinkveld, the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance’s (USSA) vice president of government affairs. “Despite pumping more than $2.5 million into this campaign, HSUS received a loud and clear message from Maine voters that their radical agenda is out of touch with modern wildlife management.”

Facing overwhelming opposition, HSUS and its front group, Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting, attempted to undermine the political process with lawsuits and petty allegations meant to keep voters ignorant of the scientific facts that refuted their stance. Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting unsuccessfully sued to keep professional wildlife managers and biologists with the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife from speaking out about the ramifications to citizens should Question 1 pass.

“We fully expected them to employ this type of tactic when it became clear that they would be unable to overcome the willingness of Maine voters to listen to the facts. The Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife has earned a high level of trust based on a solid track record of managing Maine’s wildlife, and there was no amount of misleading rhetoric that could change that,” said Nick Pinizzotto, the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance President and CEO.

Tonight’s vote was the culmination of nearly two years of fundraising and fighting to protect the undeniable role of sportsmen in managing wildlife. The concerted effort of the USSA and other groups opposed to Question 1 ensures that hunting and trapping will continue to be available to state biologists tasked with managing Maine’s 30,000 bears.

“Our success would have been impossible without the support of USSA. Not only were they one of our largest individual donors, USSA helped lead the effort to raise millions to defend all sportsmen in Maine. Their expertise and dedication on sportsmen issues is uncontested. The leadership they provided will help safeguard hunting opportunities in Maine, and throughout the country, in the future,” said James Cote, campaign manager for the Maine Wildlife Conservation Council, of the USSA.

The Maine Wildlife Conservation Council was a ballot-question committee set up specifically to defeat Question 1. It was comprised of such groups as the Maine Professional Guides Association, U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance, Maine Trapper’s Association, Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, as well as many other sportsmen’s organizations, farmers, small business owners, unions, wildlife professionals and others concerned with managing the state’s wildlife in a responsible manner.

In defeating HSUS on Question 1, the citizens of Maine rebuked the meddling of the out-of-state special-interest group and ensured their heritage and sound scientific wildlife management will endure. However, HSUS has a long history of attacking sportsmen, and while they might or might not return to Maine after such a decisive defeat, it’s a safe bet that they will attempt to advance their animal-rights agenda in other states next year.

“It is the sole mission of the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance to protect hunting, fishing and trapping from emotional and unfounded attacks by anti-hunting groups,” Pinizzotto. “It is imperative for the future of all wildlife that management decisions be made by trained professionals guided by sound science and proven techniques.”

Maine to create 22,000 acre habitat for Canada lynx

Posted courtesy of: WBLZ2.  Original article available here.

AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has permitted Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to continue its trapping programs, despite the risk of taking the protected Canada lynx. Maine is the first state to have an “incidental take” plan for Canada lynx.

“People can continue to enjoy one of Maine’s long traditions, furbearer trapping, while taking steps to avoid harming Canada lynx and supporting a larger effort to provide habitat that helps us recover the species,” said Assistant Regional Director Paul Phifer of the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service Northeast Region. “This illustrates how the Endangered Species Act allows for some flexibility when applicants have demonstrated that they have minimized and mitigated the effects on protected wildlife.”

Trapping for common species like coyote or fox, creates a risk of incidentally taking a Canada lynx. An “incidental take permit” allows for trapping to continue as part of the regulated trapping program and the Maine IFW will take measures to minimize the taking of the lynx. The take of the lynx will be offset by providing a 22,000-acre lynx habitat on state’s Seboomook Unit in nnorthernMaine.

“Our analysis through the permitting process confirmed that trapping does not pose a significant threat to Maine’s lynx population,” Phifer said. “The most important factor to maintaining a healthy population of lynx in Maine is having sufficient habitat, which is why the plan focuses on managing habitat for mitigation.”

Maine IFW said that incidental take plans, known also as habitat conservation plans, identify the impacts to specific species from a project or program.

Governor Tom Corbett stops by District 11’s Booth

This is the photo that appeared on the front page of the Lebanon newspaper Sunday August 2. Butch Herr and Terry Shelly were manning the Pennsylvania Trappers Association, District 11 booth, at the Lebanon Fair Saturday when Governor Tom Corbett stopped by the booth to be educated on trapping and furbearer management in the commonwealth.