Why Do We Trap?

Why Do We Trap?


You may be wondering if trapping has its place in today’s world? Or if trapping is humane? Does it cause extirpation of species, and is it scientifically supported? 

On this page you will find answers to some of these commonly asked questions. If you have more questions please reach out to a member of the Department’s Furbearer Working Group here. 

  1. The species of wildlife that are trapped are abundant. Regulated trapping does not cause wildlife to become endangered. 

  • Only common and abundant species of wildlife can be legally trapped in Wyoming. 

  • No threatened, endangered, or state protected animals (like river otter, lynx and wolverine) can be legally trapped. 

  • Many wildlife populations naturally produce a surplus of animals each year that can be harvested without harming the populations. 

  • The environment contains only enough food, water, and habitat for a certain number of animals of each species (carrying capacity). 

  • Although not the case for all wildlife species, some wildlife populations may exceed the habitat’s carrying capacity without the regulated capture and removal of some animals. Potential results include: 

    • Threats to human health and safety; 

    • Damage to the animals’ habitat; 

    • Damage to agricultural crops or other human structures; 

    • Death from starvation or disease outbreaks.

  1. Furbearer trapping in Wyoming is regulated by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department through scientifically based laws, rules and regulations that are enforced by game wardens. 

  • Trapping is endorsed and regulated by trained wildlife professionals who dedicate their lives to sound wildlife management. The Wildlife Society recently reaffirmed its position on the value of regulated trapping to wildlife management.

  • Trapping of furbearers is not allowed year-round. 

  • Trapper education is recommended and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department is working toward making it a requirement.

  1. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department recently worked with stakeholder groups to look at developing rules, regulations and education programs to ensure the humaneness of trapping. 

  • The Department is currently involved and has a long history in the Best Management Practices (BMP) project, a major national project in cooperation with other states, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, trappers’ associations, and experienced veterinarians to evaluate various traps. 

  • Wildlife professionals support the use of the best available technology to ensure humane trapping and handling of animals. 

  • Trapping BMPs also assessed the safety of these tools and techniques, as well as improvements to selectivity and humaneness. 

  • Trappers and wildlife management professionals support Best Management Practices because they care about the welfare of wild animals and realize the benefit regulated trapping has in wildlife management.

  1. Regulated trapping provides many benefits to wildlife and people in our state by: 

  • Helping to maintain a balance between wildlife and people: 

    • By reducing or preventing damage to agricultural crops and human property; 

    • In certain situations, reducing or preventing threats to human and pet health and safety (e.g., minimizing exposure to diseases such as rabies). 

  • Collecting important ecological information about wildlife; 

  • Funding wildlife conservation (trapping license fees paid by trappers are used for the protection of wildlife habitat and populations). 

  • Providing food or a source of supplemental income for some participants. 


For more detailed information on trapping’s role in wildlife conservation and in today’s world, see the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and The Wildlife Society. 

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