The Upper Peninsula Trapper’s Association
It all began way back in 1962 in the small town of L’Anse. Six or eight forward-looking trappers met in the living room of Leonard and Ester Lahti and the U.P. Trapper’s Association was born. We officially became a functioning organization on January 21, 1962. Just eleven years later another important milestone was reached: This small group of trappers in this small U.P town sponsored the Fifteenth Annual National Trapper’s Association convention! Paul Harju was the NTA Director from the Upper Peninsula at that time and the convention was held at the Whirl – I – Gig in L’Anse. Barely big enough to handle one large trap supply dealer by today’s standards, the Whirl – I – Gig sufficed in those days – when the NTA was only a couple of years older than the U.P. Trapper’s Association!
Most of these original founders are now deceased and we wonder if they could have imagined what their early efforts would eventually become—an organization that has not only survived into the next century but continues to grow and thrive.
These concerned trappers knew what was necessary and got the job done. If we close our eyes and sit back we can almost hear the intensity in their voices as they talked about a growing anti-trapping movement that was threatening their livelihood; about a conservation department that seemed to be ignoring trappers; about a few unscrupulous fur buyers who were getting together and keeping fur prices abnormally low; about how hard it was for young trappers just starting out (because no one was sharing their “secrets”); and about a general public that was becoming more and more urbanized and no longer understanding and appreciating the necessity for and the benefits of trapping.
Hopefully our founders are appreciating their efforts and seeing the great things that have been accomplished. Whether they are still alive or are watching from that “fur shed in the sky,” we hope they can see the fruits of their efforts:
The Annual Convention
Every year the U.P. Trapper’s Association hosts a convention—putting most of the needs of today’s trappers all in one place: Great prices on just about any kind of trap line tool or other “necessity” you can imagine; excellent demonstrations on trapping, fleshing, and skinning; the annual meeting where trappers from each of the districts can voice their concerns on various trapping issues; and a place to establish and renew friendships and to learn many “tips and tricks” from fellow trappers. If you have never been to one of our conventions, you are missing out on the “greatest trapping show” our area has to offer.
The Fair Booths
Every year the U.P. Trapper’s Association sponsors a booth at both the U.P. State Fair in Escanaba and the Dickinson County Fair in Norway. This may be the most important thing we do to protect our rights to trap. It is our chance to educate the general public on the reasons for and the benefits of trapping. At the fairs we can reach out to city folks, country folks, doctors, lawyers, farmers, loggers, and congressmen—people from all walks of life visit the fairs.
When it first became legal to snare beaver under the ice, hardly anyone in our area knew how it was done. Canadian trappers had been snaring beaver through the ice for years, so we got them to come down and show us how it was done. The U.P. Trappers Association worked with Fur Harvester’s Auction and several snaring workshops were held throughout the U.P.
In February of 2006, District 3 sponsored their first annual Trapper’s workshop to introduce youngsters to trapping. It drew participants from several other districts and was a resounding success. Trapping supplies were available at reasonable prices; great demos and excellent fur handling highlighted the workshop; and most importantly, dozens of youngsters enjoyed a great introduction to trapping!
The Fur Pickups
Fur Harvester’s Auction in North Bay Ontario has consistently helped trappers get fair market value for their furs—but shipping furs to Canada used to be a real pain. For years now, the U.P. Trapper’s Association has sponsored a fur pickup to make shipping furs to Canada more convenient and less expensive for trappers. Bags and tags are provided by the auction house and now we can simply drop our furs off at many different, close-to-home locations. And the U.P. Trapper’s Association is currently making plans to expand the fur pickup routes, making things even more convenient for the trapper.
Representation At the State Level
For several years now the U.P. Trapper’s Association has been a participant in the DNR Furbearer Workgroup Meetings held twice a year in St. Ignace. This is where furbearer bag limits; possible rule changes and season dates are discussed. This is where our voices can be heard by the furbearer and wildlife specialists within the DNR. Several of our officers and members have also testified before the Natural Resources Commission on various occasions. These efforts resulted in many benefits to trappers such as having the 24 hour trap check changed to 48 hours in the Upper Peninsula.
We all know that it is in our best interest for beginning trappers to trap in a safe, humane, ethical, and legal manner. We also know that not enough young people are becoming involved in trapping. Working with the other three major trapping organizations in Michigan and the DNR, we have established a state-wide program for trapper education.
Hundreds Of Other Accomplishments
Some districts are involved with the Adopt-a-Highway program helping to keep Michigan’s roadways clean. Monies have been donated to the National Trappers Association and the United States Sportsman’s Alliance. Some of the districts belong to and support the Upper Peninsula Sportsman’s Alliance. Monies have been donated to Air Lifeline, Bay Cliff Health Camp and other worthwhile charitable organizations. Scores of presentations on trapping have been made in schools, Boy Scout groups, and 4-H groups by individual members. We can all be proud to belong to the U.P. Trapper’s Association!
For trapping to continue to survive, it is important that we continue in the spirit of this small group who gathered many years ago in Leonard Lahti’s living room. We are making a difference – but we need to get more and more trappers involved. Won’t you join us?
Trapping is also being attacked on the national level and we encourage all trappers to join the leading national trapping organizations and the Sportsmen’s Alliance.