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Fur trapping enthusiasts reunite at annual convention

August 19, 2011|By KATE S. ALEXANDER | kate.alexander@herald-mail.com
  • People dine on crabs, Friday night, at the Maryland Fur Trappers' annual convention at Tilghmanton Woods Community Park in Fairplay.
By Colleen McGrath/Staff Photographer

When Maryland Fur Trappers Inc. meets every year for its two-day annual convention, it is like a big family reunion.

There's good food — including steamed Maryland crabs and sweet corn — good information and good conversation among those who might have not seen one another during the past year.

"It gives us a chance to get together from all over the state," said Richard Garrett of Preston, Md.

The convention kicked off Friday at the Tilghmanton Woods Community Park near Fairplay with a crab-feast fundraiser, group President Ronnie Leggett said.

The convention continues today at the park with vendors and free demonstrations throughout the day, including trapping techniques and pelt handling, Leggett said.

Leggett said the event helps fund the organization's educational programs.

While Maryland requires those who trap fur-bearing animals to take its state Department of Natural Resources education program, MFTI hosts its own courses, he said. Part of its public-education efforts include being a proud sponsor of the Miss Maryland Scholarship Pageant, he said.

Trappers are an often misunderstood group, he and Garrett said.

"The perception is that we're a bunch of rednecks," said Garrett, who is the organization's director at large.

But he said the nearly 300 members of the organization come from all walks of life, including lawyers, doctors, even foresters like him.

Not every member of the Maryland Fur Trappers is from Maryland, however.

Anita Moore and her husband, Donald Moore, are from Felton, Del.

For the Moores, trapping is more of a hobby than a job, even though they sell their pelts and meat, Anita Moore said.

"It helps, but we consider it a hobby," she said.

Managing fur-bearing animals through safe and humane trapping plays a role in balancing the state's ecology and mitigating diseases spread by those animals, said Paul Peditto, director of the DNR's wildlife and heritage service.

"We have kept Maryland's wildlife healthy and in balance," Leggett said.

But there remains a perception that trappers are cruel, he said.

"We believe in harvesting not decimating," Cary Hambleton of Hagerstown said. "It's a win-win when done right."

Hambleton said trapping is part of America's heritage and way of life, and if that is lost, a piece of America is lost with it.

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IF YOU GO

What: Maryland Fur Trappers Inc. Annual Convention

Where: Tilghmanton Woods Community Park, 18309 Manor Church Road, Boonsboro, Md.

When: Saturday, Aug. 20

Info: Live trapline begins at 7:30 a.m. Vendors and demonstrations throughout the day. Admission is free.

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