ESCANABA - Introducing youngsters to the sport of trapping is the sole purpose of a trappers workshop Saturday.
The fifth annual Mid-Winter Trappers Workshop will be held from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. (CST) at the Hermansville Community Center. The workshop is put on by District Three of the U.P. Trappers Association, which encompasses Delta, Menominee and Dickinson counties.
"The workshop is primarily designed to introduce kids and non-trappers to trapping," said UPTA District Three Secretary Bob Steinmetz. "The idea is to get kids who are interested in trapping and to show them how to trap various fur-bearing animals."
Richard Clark from North American Fur Auctions has been a part of previous workshops and will again demonstrate fur handling. He will also provide free trapping equipment to get the kids started on their traplines.
"Not much could be better than getting almost 100 kids excited about trapping and at the same time teaching them good fur-handling techniques," Steinmetz said.
Scott Burton from Burton Trapping Supplies in Manistique also returns to the workshop with his assortment of trapping equipment. "Richard and Scott are two trapping supply dealers with adequate inventory," said Steinmetz.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources, in cooperation with Mississippi State University, is currently conducting research on predator prey dynamics in the Delta/Menominee County area. Graduate student Jared Duquette will update and discuss details of the project.
There is no cost for the workshop, although free-will donations are accepted. For more information, contact Steinmetz (906-786-6265) or go online to uptrappers.com.
Trapping is a method of capturing and harvesting animals, including fox, bobcat, muskrat, mink and raccoon. But according to Craig Albright, wildlife biologist with the MDNR Escanaba office, trapping is different from hunting.
"Trapping is not like deer hunting, there are a smaller amount of people who participate," said Albright. "It's usually a group of very dedicated, passionate people who spend their winters going after fur-bearing animals."
Albright said the biggest thing right now is the bobcat hunting season, which ends March 1. Bobcat trapping season just finished Monday.
"There are specially trained hound dogs who tree bobcats (run them to the point where the bobcat goes up the tree)," Albright said.
There is also a big interest in coyote hunting right now. The season runs until April 15.
"More deer hunters in particular are getting concerned about the impacts of coyotes on deer, so there is a longer hunting season for them," said Albright. "We (the DNR) don't have a lot of information, other than we know there are a lot of them out there, based on reports we get of sightings during deer season."
As far as the various trapping seasons are concerned, Albright says "there is an overabundance of predators, so there's a lot to trap."