Trapping in the Early American West

Trapping in Early America

The fur trade was one of the first major industries in the United States. Fur trappers were responsible for exploring and mapping much of what is now known as the American West. The untamed lands of the west were rich with abundant natural resources and held great opportunities for trappers. Also, the fur trade benefitted Native Americans who had traded furs for supplies then.

With Western expansion and exploration, many of these men and their adventures became highly acclaimed legends. The fur trading companies such as the American Fur Company, Hudson’s Bay Company, and others that employed trappers and mountain-men also made a name for themselves in this American era. By the mid-1800s, fur-bearing animal populations were declining rapidly due to overuse of resources and corporate greed. Also, with manufacturers switching to silk, the fur trade was collapsing.

The USDA “United States Department of Agriculture” estimates there were approximately more than 60 million beavers in North America before Europeans settled this land. After being nearly extinct, it was guessed in the 1980s that there were anywhere between 6 – 12 million beavers. These early years in American history show us that Regulated Trapping is necessary for understanding and controlling future wildlife populations. There is no longer an untamed west to explore. However, ever-expanding urban developments challenge Wildlife Management Programs to create Best Management Practices to maintain the balance between man and animal.





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