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H. 3315 Trapping Legislation Released

On Monday, March 14, 2011 the Joint Committee on the Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture held a public hearing on bills related to trapping and dam safety. There were several pieces of legislation that sought to amend the current laws regarding trapping methods in Massachusetts. As anyone in the Commonwealth who lives near any freshwater streams and rivers knows most effective means of trapping and controlling furbearer populations was banned in 1996.

During the 1996 elections, the now infamous Question One was supported by the animal rights extremists. Unfortunately, the general public was completely misled by a campaign of lies and deceit funded by the deep pockets of these radical groups. The initiative petition banned most traps for beaver, muskrat, etc. It also banned the use of dogs and bait for bear and bobcat. Finally it did away with the requirement for members of the seven person Fisheries and Wildlife Board to hold a hunting or sporting license.

Without a doubt Question One has become the worst wildlife management and environmental disasters of modern Massachusetts times. Since its inception, citizens along with municipalities and wildlife officials have struggled to deal with the aftermath. Prior to the trapping ban taking effect furbearers, beavers and muskrat for the most part, were harvested for their pelts and utilized by the trapper. Today these animals are treated more like pests and are trapped by a growing number of nuisance animal control companies and disposed of in the land fill.

In an effort to bring these species back to professionally managed species rather than a pest, the Joint Committee released a bill after the public hearing. The bill does several things including:

  • Removes the ban on manufacture and possession of body gripping traps,
  • Adds wildlife agencies or divisions to the list of government entities who are eligible to use so-called prohibited devices,
  • Adds the reason for using traps to include “for the management of furbearing wildlife during their established regulated seasons.”
  • Allows the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (Mass DFW) to establish regulations regarding the use of so-called prohibited devices.
  • Creates a reporting system for those persons using special trapping permits so that the Mass DFW can gather data on the species and their taking.

While this bill does not outright repeal the onerous 1996 law, it does take a good step towards managing the species professionally rather than simply killing it as a pest.

The bill is H.3315

 

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