Trappers, Fish & Wildlife evaluate best practices

by Bruce Baroffio

I am writing this out of concern that there is a lack of understanding about the Best Management Practice (BMP) process that was conducted in Vermont to evaluate the various restraining devices for capturing furbearers.   

I participated in every BMP that was done in Vermont, and successfully captured target animals with every device tested. While the program provided the devices for evaluation, the participants conducted the testing in the course of their normal fur harvesting or damage/predation control activities. 

Each trapper was accompanied by a wildlife technician who had a randomization table so that the trapper never knew what device was going to be used at any given location. This was to prevent any prejudice either for or against any particular device. There was also a set of guidelines as to how many devices were set at a location, the minimum and maximum distances between them and the minimum distances between locations. This was to try to ensure that each state collected the data in the same way.  

When an animal was captured, the trapper was responsible for dispatching it by the prescribed method which was in accordance with the Veterinary Medical Association accepted practices. Upon dispatch the technician would remove the animal from the device and immediately affix a coded ear tag. The technician then recorded the sex of the animal as well as the weight and length. Then a notation was made as to whether the animal was caught by a front or rear foot so that when the necropsy was conducted, the researcher would know which two feet would need to be compared. This was necessary because many devices left no discernable sign of capture. Then the animal was bagged in a special bag and labeled as to the species to keep it separate from other animals.

At the end of the day at noon all the day’s animals were taken to the state freezer to be kept until they  were picked up by a refrigerated truck and, depending on the  species, sent to one of two veterinary collages where necropsies were performed and data collected.  

These necropsies were conducted to assess the harvested animals for any damage caused, directly or indirectly, by the trap. For more reading on the topic this link provides an overview of BMPs for trapping. 

While I can only speak to my own experiences, I found the entire process to be well thought out and very closely regulated. This testing gave the trapping community some great insight and vastly improved the quality of the tools we use, especially by improving the welfare of the animals that we capture, and the Vermont Trappers Association is and has been working in good faith with the Fish and Wildlife Department to implement them.  

The authir is a resident of Northfield, a third generation trapper, and current President of the Vermont Trappers Association (VTA). 

Categories: Outdoors

6 replies »

  1. Kids who hunt,trap&fish don’t mug little old Ladies!!
    Keep up the Great trapping folks!!
    God bless all true American hunters and Trappers 🙏🙏🙏🇺🇸🗽🇺🇸🦌🐻🐺
    The Vermonter from the Right side period!!

  2. Kids who go to church & learn faith in God don’t “mug” little old ladies!
    Ensnaring, torturing, and slaughtering God’s creatures for “sport” isn’t great!!
    God bless all true Americans who have courageously and selflessly served in this nation’s armed forces such as my own father, husband, and granddaughter!!!
    The Vermonter who respects all God’s creation & knows no one should be so self-righteous as to believe they are always right!!!!

  3. By the way, how does one “improve the welfare of an animal” which you are trapping as stated by the author above when the objective of trapping is to kill said animal?

    Yep…asking for a friend. Again.

    • I do hope that you are a dedicated vegan, who doesn’t use any pesticides natural or chemical and lets insects, birds and mammals have first dibs on anything you are growing. Please don’t tell me that you own, use, wear ANY leather products. Keeping in mind as well the unavoidable killing of many different living things by your body’s own immune system. Otherwise this conversation is a non starter. It was never G_D’s intention that we eat animals, but that cat got let out of the bag when we ate from the tree and HE had to kill an innocent animal because of our transgression. We now have permission to harvest animals, and we should always seek to be quick, efficient and humane in our harvesting.
      Side note: I’ve lost more chickens to “cute innocent mink” than I can count and believe me it was a chaotic terrifying slow death for them. No worries though, only one mink has every gotten away with it. 7 attacks, 6 kills… they always come back to the scene of the crime.

  4. Always the same story just as with opposing abortion. One supposedly cannot oppose abortion unless one has adopted and/or fostered at least a dozen babies. Likewise, one cannot oppose trapping unless one is a vegan. Both ludicrous arguments.

    As a Christian, I oppose abortion as it is intrinsically wrong. Likewise, I oppose trapping as utilizing any method of taking another living creature’s life which very likely may cause needless pain, fear, & anxiety in doing so – OR may inflict the same (or even death) upon a non-targeted, domestic, or endangered species is ALSO intrinsically wrong. Just three weeks ago in Vermont yet ANOTHER dog was murdered in a trap. Horrific and disgraceful.

    As I’ve stated before I firmly believe in Saint Francis’ words (the Patron Saint of animals) when he stated: If you have men who shall exclude any of God’s creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow man.

    I suppose I must be sainted myself in order to believe in this…….


    • Well hopefully you either eat only kosher animal products, as unless you raise your own (such as I do) you cannot be certain an animal was raised and humanely slaughtered. Most commercial meat, if you could see that part of it would repulse you. I’d much rather be a wild animal having lived a free and healthy life and be suddenly, quickly and efficiently killed than to be in majority of meat animals that never even see the light of day…THAT is cruel and inhumane. Any dog caught in a trap that killed them is likely to have been caught in an ILLEGALLY set trap, as body grip (killing traps) traps large enough to kill a dog need to be set either underwater or 5 feet above ground which would preclude catching a dog. I have released fishers from a trap (foothold) when caught out of season, I have found them asleep and watched them run off unharmed when freed. The ANTIs have done an excellent job propagandizing the age old tradition of taking animals (trapping) for clothing. Sadly many don’t know the first thing about trapping or the strict procedures in place for ensuring that an animal does not suffer before being taken. Some prefer plastic synthetic fabrics to keep warm, I prefer wool and fur. You are within your rights to use petroleum products to stay warm and I’m within mine to use animal products.

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