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Old 03-28-2020, 07:05 PM   #1
Join Date: Dec 2016
Posts: 36
Trapping vs. Fishing Ethics?

I suppose this is more of an ethical question, but here it goes...

I was out with my son yesterday mostly "warming up" for the start of the season, testing out some new gear and waders on the year-round trophy section of the West Canada (don't mind naming the location because this really isn't a fishing story). Water is expectedly super cold and high right now, but we went to a location that gets heavy pressure and is accessible. As we're walking tight to the bank in about 3 feet of fast water we're startled by a beaver caught in a trap literally an arms reach from us. Within 30 seconds the beaver became agitated enough that it ripped its front left paw clean off and swam away.

While to each his own on their outdoor passions/recreation (and realizing beaver trapping is still in season), I find it a little irresponsible to be trapping in such a heavy pressure location where overlap with folks fishing is a real possibility. I have every reason to believe that my son or I could have stepped in/on that trap were it submerged and without a beaver in it.

So what say you all? Is this irresponsibility or a hazard that comes with the territory that we should all learn to live with? Thoughts appreciated.

PS--I did report this to an Encon officer/friend of mine.
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Old 03-28-2020, 07:22 PM   #2
Join Date: Jan 2018
Location: SNY
Posts: 638
Not seeing the setup, I won't say for sure but it sounds like it is both irresponsible and hazardous.
It also may be the trap was to small for a beaver, if so it wasn't properly caught...and maybe the trap set up either illegally or for some smaller animal legally.
Hopefully your friend can determine what really was going on. If so, let us know please.
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Old 03-28-2020, 08:26 PM   #3
Tug Hill
Join Date: Apr 2016
Posts: 265
Sounds to me the trap was large enough, a small leg hold say a 1-1.5 used for muskrat a beaver would have easily pulled free without losing its paw. More likely an improperly set trap. Leghold sets for beaver need to be set using a drowning wire of some sort to quickly drown the trapped animal. Trappers in NY have to pass a educational course similar to a hunting safety course. Even many trappers who are grandfathered with their license voluntarily take the course as a refresher. So either the trapper was not knowledgeable to set ethical sets, or possibly the drowning set up malfunctioned ?

However, with that being said, the beaver will recover. I have caught several 3 legged beaver that have healed over and even some 2 legged ones that seem to survive well even though handicapped.

Beaver trapping season in many northern WMU close April 15, so trout fishermen and women should be aware that there could be traps set until then. As far as a person getting injured stepping on a beaver leg hold trap. Because of jaw width regulations, that is highly unlikely.

Yes there are still some unethical trappers among our ranks, just like there are in every endeavor, fishing not excluded.
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Old 03-28-2020, 08:41 PM   #4
Join Date: Dec 2016
Posts: 36
Thanks for the responses thus far. Not being a trapper myself, I couldn't tell how it was set and only learned from the Encon officer that its supposed to be set in the water. But since the beaver/trap were wrapped around a tree just off the bank, it did either malfunction or was illegally set. Good to know Tug Hill that there's little risk to the foot, but if that was set on land there's a hand risk too. If nothing else I'll be much more aware moving forward.
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Old 03-29-2020, 07:23 AM   #5
Join Date: May 2018
Posts: 628
Maybe the guy was a catch and release beaver trapper.

Did you retrieve the trap and check for the owners information. Maybe it has changed, but at one time every trap had to be labelled with the owner's name and address.

I would think the trap could be legally set in the water, while the anchor chain could be fastened around a tree on the bank. but it is over 50 years since my teenage trapline.
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Old 03-29-2020, 08:22 AM   #6
Tug Hill
Join Date: Apr 2016
Posts: 265
Leg gripping traps set on land cannot be larger than 5 3/4” in width. Traps set in water cannot be wider than 7 1/2”. Lucky is correct traps must have owners name and address or lic ID #. There are also jaw width regulations for body gripping traps set on land and water.
Also, FYI, it is illegal to tamper with a legally set trap.
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Old 03-29-2020, 09:12 AM   #7
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 1,951
Overall I'm not comfortable with trapping in this day and age. I'm no animal rights activist; I have no problem with hunting and fishing. Trapping is FUNDAMENTALLY different in a key respect: In hunting and fishing, the hunter or fisherman is PRESENT when taking the game. It's impossible, no matter how many rules you follow, to be certain of what your technology is going to do if you are not present. Trapping is like leaving a loaded rifle, or a pile of line and hooks in the woods. Even if you follow all sorts of rules, the technology being in the woods un-monitored represents an objective hazard.

Now in earlier days, there were large areas where you could confidently say "no one ever goes here." Areas not anywhere near a trail, or a neighborhood, with no points of interest, no summits, no fishing holes, no campsites, no views, etc.. Today, people (and their pets) are going almost everywhere.

So of course trapping is legal. I would not advocate to take away people's right to continue this practice. But if were made illegal everywhere tomorrow, it wouldn't break my heart. And if you do trap, it's totally on you who sets the trap to be WAY, WAY in the middle of nowhere. If someone gets hurt by your technology, you own that 100%.
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Old 03-29-2020, 11:07 AM   #8
Join Date: Dec 2016
Posts: 36
I'm uploading a couple pics of the encounter... First is of the beaver in the trap once we saw it, and the second is a close-up of the trap with the beaver's front paw still in it. Sorry for the grainy-ness... These are cropped from a couple videos my son took. I did not examine the trap close enough to see if there was any identifying info on it.

Nonetheless I appreciate everyone's thoughts on this. I'm more convinced that this was an irresponsible act, and I'll leave it in the DEC's hands to determine legality.

Thanks again, NHtrouster
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Beaver 1.jpg (109.9 KB, 93 views)
File Type: jpg Beaver 2.jpg (95.4 KB, 87 views)
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Old 03-29-2020, 04:30 PM   #9
Join Date: Mar 2013
Posts: 111
Originally Posted by Tug Hill View Post
Beaver trapping season in many northern WMU close April 15, so trout fishermen and women should be aware that there could be traps set until then.
I suppose those going out should probably be aware even a bit after that date this year, just in case someone has set a trap and then was unable to come back for it (say if they started having symptoms and were quarantined, either on their own or officially).
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Old 03-30-2020, 08:02 AM   #10
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Join Date: May 2008
Location: Tupper Lake
Posts: 864
May have been a new trapper. Almost every experienced I know that uses leg hold traps makes them drowning sets for beaver, otter and even muskrats.
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