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Trapping may be one of the oldest methods of hunting. Since prehistoric times, man has trapped wild animals for food, fur, sport, and survival. In our country, Native Americans were the first trappers. Their catch provided meat for food, and fur and leather for clothing.

When European explorers came to North America, they discovered the plentiful fur resource. They wanted to profit from this resource.

  • Settlers from France, England, and Holland set up a fur trade with Europe.
  • Clothing made from North American beaver, mink, and other furs became very popular in Europe. The clothing was both functional and fashionable.
  • Europe wanted more and more fur. Fur trading became an important business.

The selling of fur led to the expansion and settlement of North American colonies.

  • Trappers were hired to explore deeper and deeper into the wilderness to find and trap more furbearing animals.
  • Traders were hired to set up fur trading posts and centers.

By the late 1600s, trading posts were established fully. These trading centers grew into major cities such as New York, Chicago, and St. Louis. By the nineteenth century, the fur trade was not just big business. It was the biggest business.