Iowa Adult Hunter Education Course


Introduction to Trapping

Trapping, like hunting, is a part of our heritage. For some, trapping evokes images of bearded mountain men with clothing made from deer and buffalo hides exploring the untamed wilderness. Early settlers used animal hides to make clothing and to cover their shelters. They also used the meat to provide food, and the bones were made into tools. Hides or pelts were used like money to trade and barter for supplies.

There are times when there is an absence of natural predators and one species becomes overpopulated, leading animals out of their natural habitat and closer to civilization. For example, beavers take up residence in drainage areas and dam up creeks, causing flooding and damage to property.

Trapping is also used to control damage to livestock animals. Raising sheep will attract coyotes, and at times, these can decimate a flock of sheep in days. Trapping controls the spread of disease by keeping the wildlife population at the carrying capacity of the land. When there is an overpopulation of one species in an area, that species is more susceptible to starvation and disease.

Trapping is not always for capturing animals for their fur. To increase wildlife populations in areas, biologists and volunteers will trap a certain species and relocate them to another location with suitable habitat. The wild turkey is one example of a species that was on the decline. Now, after trapping and relocation, the number of turkeys in the wild has increased in recent years, allowing turkey hunting seasons to occur in most areas. The whitetail deer is another success story where trapping and relocation has increased the populations in many areas.