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In the frontier days, trappers were important to early settlers.

  • Trappers removed dangerous wildlife to make the land safe for growing crops.
  • During the long, hard winters, trappers shared food from their catch with the settlers.

As settlements grew, people became more self-sufficient. Trappers were no longer needed for survival. In addition, the numbers of furbearers dropped.

  • Centuries of unregulated killing had eliminated certain furbearers from much of the country.
  • Habitat destruction also played a role. As the pioneers moved west, they cleared forests and drained wetlands. Wild lands were turned into cropland. The furbearers found fewer and fewer places to live.

As a result, trappers found fewer and fewer animals in their traps. The fur trade declined.

Today, trapping is not about survival for most people. It is a tool of wildlife management and a form of recreation.

Settlement alters habitats