Trappers convene at fairgrounds
The National Trappers Association's 12th annual Western Trapping & Outdoor Expo is taking place this weekend at the Eastern Idaho State Fairgrounds.
Thirty-five vendors are on site. From 1,200 to 1,500 people are expected to attend this three-day expo that started Friday and ends Sunday.
The animal 9-year-old Dawson Kramer likes to trap is a muskrat. Dawson and his family are from Fairfield.
His dad, Rusty Kramer, said he learned trapping from his dad and grandpa.
"We never did fishing," Kramer said. "We trapped."
He sells the skins for mittens, hats or taxidermy.
Kramer also takes care of the problem coyotes that are disturbing the calves on the ranch where he works.
Bret Smith, 19, from Idaho Falls likes to trap because "I like being out in wildlife." He has been trapping for five years.
Tyler Mower, 17, from Rigby, likes "the rewards you get. I like seeing what's in my trap." He earned $1,000 last year from selling his furs.
Trevor Balance, 11, from Idaho Falls likes "being out there and doing something."
Todd Smith from Idaho Falls is the president of the Upper Snake River Trappers of Idaho. Smith has been trapping for 35 years.
"Trapping is done mostly for control," Smith said. "If the animals are overpopulated in an area, we thin them out.
"You don't want to see how Mother Nature thins out the population," he said. "The animals get diseases or starve to death.
"We help to keep the animal population healthy," said Smith.
Smith said, "Muskrats are the main staple of birds of prey, coyotes, wolves and other predators.
"Muskrats multiply like rabbits," he said. "They have two or three litters each year with 7-12 kittens in each littler."
Did you know that less than 2 percent of the furs harvested in the U.S. stay here? Smith asked.
Furs go to China where they are made into coats, blankets, pillows or used in the trim trade.
Russians use furs for coats and for lining in coats. Raccoon and muskrat fur are used for the lining.
There are more beavers in Idaho now than when trappers trapped here in 1856," Smith said. "That's because of trappers.
"In 1985, there were 125 beavers in the state," he said. "Trappers used live traps to bring 190 beavers into Idaho each year from other states."
Now it is estimated 5,000 beavers are in the state.
Smith is also a depredation trapper. If people have a problem animal, like muskrats in an irrigation canal or skunks under a back porch, he can get rid of it.
His company is called Critter Getters. His cell number is (208) 351-0299.
Trappers need to know the animal they are trapping, said Smith. They study feces, droppings and animal behavior as well as traps.
The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is offering its Wolf Trapper Education Course at this conference. The course is required if a trapper wants to trap wolves in Idaho.
Other activities at the Expo today include demonstrations, beginning at 10 a.m. A skillet toss contest for women begins at 11 and trap setting contests for all ages begin at 1 p.m.
The dealer building closes at 6 p.m. tonight.