Wednesday, April 23, 2014
KEZAR FALLS - The group of 20 who gathered in the American Legion hall in this remote town two weeks ago represented the biggest trapping club in Maine, even though their new chapter is the youngest in the state's 66-year-old trapping association.
The Western Maine chapter of the Maine Trappers Association was formed a little more than two years ago. But already the enthusiastic group at the foothills of the White Mountains has 46 members -- more than any other chapter.
In its first year the chapter took over the trapping booth at the Fryeburg Fair from the association, and began educating the public and novice members.
"There was a gap in the state. There were no chapters within an hour from here. We needed it," said Brian Cogil, the president of the Maine Trappers Association who also is the National Trappers Association director and the western chapter's founder.
Because of the nature of the sport, trapping is not an outdoor pursuit like fishing or deer hunting that puts sportsmen and women out in the public eye. But the trappers in Maine's newest trapping club are happy to try to change that -- now that they have a club of their own.
"I've been trapping for 34 years, more than half of my life. It's been very good to me. It's part of who I am. I live in a log cabin on 14 acres in Limerick. We think the world of the outdoor environment," said George Libby, the club's president.
The traditional trapping season is in the late fall, so for most of the members here, this is the offseason.
The statewide furbearer trapping season extends each year roughly from the end of October to the end of December. The bear trapping season runs through September and October. But for different critters, such as fox, coyote and muskrat, there are different seasons.
Libby said the members wanted a voice in state regulations regarding trapping, but they also wanted to share ideas, and for those new to the pastime to have others nearby to ask questions.
And he said the club will be useful in helping wildlife issues such as coyote control near deer yards and management of critters that carry rabies or mange.
Where the club meets in Kezar Falls, it's about 45 minutes west of Sebago Lake, which looks on the state map more like southern Maine.
But the York County trapping chapter to the south still remains more than an hour away from the western Maine trappers here.
The chapter started with 10 trappers and, Libby said, quickly grew after forming in 2011.
"We usually have 15 to 20 at the meetings now," Libby said.
Libby said about half the members are veteran trappers and the other half are new or rediscovering the outdoor pursuit.
Bill Flynn of Harrison is among them. He moved up from Massachusetts in 1988 and decided in 2003 to get back into trapping.
"I hadn't trapped since the late 1950s. For me it's light years different. There is a wealth of information out there. I ask a million questions. The guys show me things and they take me with them," Flynn said.
A respiratory therapist who has years of experience managing in hospitals, Flynn took over the club's work at the Fryeburg Fair. He's excited to help educate the community about trapping, even as he learns from expert trappers in his new club.
Despite the fact the meeting hall is beside the New Hampshire border, Libby said the members are Mainers.
A trapping license costs $35 for a Maine resident, $9 for a junior here and $317 for a nonresident, so it stands to reason most members will be Mainers.
"I think we'll grow. We're still hearing from people who want to come and sit in at the meetings. At the fairs, a lot of people come and ask you questions. This past year several people asked if we had time to speak at a school or a Boy Scout troop," Flynn said.
Deirdre Fleming can be contacted at 791-6452 or at: