By Carol Stiffler
In this wild place where trees far outnumber people, outdoor skills are more than fun — they’re practical. So when the local office of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources offered a free trapping class for youth, spots filled up almost immediately.
The Youth Trapping Event was held Saturday, May 6, at the Tahquamenon Logging Museum and hosted 23 youth, plus parents, chaperones, and volunteers. Members of the Tahquamenon Area Sportsmans Club and Luce County 4H helped DNR conservation officers and employees from the fisheries and forestry division lead the class.
Youth watched demonstrations on how to build a weasel box and how to set various traps for muskrat and then got to build their own and practice on site. After lunch, there were demonstrations on skinning and handling fur as well as information on various types of traps for several different wildlife species.
The day finished with lessons on trapping rules and ethics before prizes were handed out. Youth also went home with trapping supplies including a few traps, reference material, fur handling supplies and animal lures.
In an embrace of local youth and nature’s bounty, DNR wildlife biologists Kristie Sitar and Jayne Roohr the initiative to learn what the area’s youth want to do outside. The pair conducted surveys twice in the past two years to see how the local DNR office could help young people become more experienced in outdoor activites that interest them.
“We were very pleased that area youth had so much interest in beginning trapping and that the event filled up as quickly as it did,” said Kristie Sitar, wildlife biologist. “We intend to try and make it an annual event.”
Sitar said the event had great support from numerous trapping organizations including F&T Fur Harvesters Trading Post in Alpena, Furbearers Unlimited, and Fur Takers of America.
“Despite the rainy start, we had a full turnout and everyone seemed to have a great time! Youth were very focused and paying close attention all day,” said Jayne Roohr, wildlife technician for the DNR.