Sustained forests; sustained profits

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The Raccoon Group

The group of animals with great appeal and with unexploited financial potentials is one for intensive management, the furbearers. A rich variety of these animals lives in the area--raccoon, beaver, weasel, mink, bobcats and others. These need management since they can compromise other management objectives but they can also be changed into a profitable managerial enterprise. Much research has been done on them, but much, much more is needed and few people realize the complexity and relations of their system and that of other components of Lasting Forests and its objectives. The need is for some of the most intense, far-reaching research anywhere in the world. It should not be on the biology of the animal alone (the past trend) but on the total profitable enterprise. Agencies have waited for funds to do so but none (to our knowledge) have stabilized an intensive management system including feedback and future predictions. The prospects are not for recreational trapping (strongly opposed by some) but for a viable, profitable enterprise utilizing one of the natural products of the ways no one else has been able to sustain in the past.

The emphasis of a major part of the work is on the raccoon. Extensive research results can be brought to showing a superior, total resource system for one species, a system related not only to furs but also several types of hunting. >A fur production system is a primary interest. The strategies include marketing of furs; strategic buying; improvements in trapper success and humane taking; improved care of the pelts; storage; local cutting and trimming; alternative uses of partials; and alternative uses of the entire carcass. Fur markets seem to fluctuate due to style and other phenomena. We propose to work with the fur industry, seek new marketing strategies, avoid public confrontations, retain a private-for-profit stance, diversify the work of the group, and demonstrate the potentials of storage to achieve sale when prices are high.

Work will include sophisticated research (expected to attract visitors and students); furbearer workshops for state and federal biologists; trapper schools; vertebrate pest damage manager schools; fur-buyer schools. Software development will enhance some work, especially as it shows how ecological communities (that support each furbearer) change over time. Trapping zones, presence of animal sign, species conflicts, profit per unit area, and costs-to-take maps are planned elements of the system. Visitors may come to the area with the planned objective of seeing and photographing all of the furbearers present. (A newsletter announces the successful people, tells of research accomplishments, shares in knowledge of the furbearers, and provides excellent photographs, poems, new book suggestions and other natural history information of interest. Close links are built with Nature Folks.

sWhere feasible, funds for special projects will be sought from federal and state research fund pools (with overhead benefits) but for the first 5 years, the work is in local, highly synthetic activity, linking ecological succession in all communities and types to the many species commonly known as furbearers. Even if no furs are ever taken or sold, the number of large, difficult-to-see, top-of-the-food-web animals is very important to the ecology of the area and must be mastered. The rodent-, predator-, grass-, deer-coyote system is an example of a small, conspicuous system that needs knowledge and management.

The financial base of the system will come from schools, memberships, tours, individual guests on the area, volunteer work (in-kind salary equivalents), workshops, publications, photo opportunities (for a fee), art commissions, sale of harvested products (glands, bones, biological instruction kits), and new products and services of the Pest Force. A link will be made with the nigh-time activities of the Owls Group of Nature Folks.

This unit is viewed as a start-up action group with expansion possibilities. A relatively small amount of start-up equipment and transportation are required. Office and computer support with marketing are anticipated from System Central.

The International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies recently produced two videos about the role of trapping in wildlife management. These videos were created as part of a pilot project wherein IAFWA developed materials for state fish and wildlife agencies to use in their outreach and education programs.

Regulated Trapping and Furbearer Management in the United States Is geared toward the general public. This 15-minute video presents the wildlife agency perspective on regulated trapping and furbearer management. The video provides valuable information about the benefits of regulated trapping including a thorough explanation of how trapping can help balance our ecosystem and how trapping regulations and education courses encourage safe, responsible furbearer management. Featuring interviews with wildlife agency personnel and members of the general public, this video dispels the myths and misconceptions about this important wildlife management tool. The video is based on an award-winning production created by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, and is recommended for general audiences ages 12 and above. Please contact DJ Case and Associates (219.258.0100) for information about how to order this video either individually or in bulk.

Trapping Matters - Ideal for use in hunter education courses, this 10-minute, narrated video provides an excellent overview of regulated trapping and furbearer management. Including information about the benefits of regulated trapping, tools, techniques, and ethics of trapping, the video illustrates how - when proper rules and regulations are followed - trapping contributes to wildlife management in the United States. The program to develop trapping best management practices is also highlighted. The video concludes by offering a brief history of trapping, along with additional information about courses in hunter education. Please contact the International Hunter Education Association (970-568-7954 or download the "IHEA order form" from their website) for information about how to order this video either individually or in bulk. Copies of these videos can be obtained from DJ Case and Associates or the International Hunter Education Association.

Samara Trusso,International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies,444 North Capitol St., NW,Suite 544,Washington, DC 20001, phone: 202.624.5363

Development costs....$30,000

Expected profits......$50,000

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Last revision January 17, 2000.