North Carolina Newspapers

    NUMBER OF TRAPPERS DWINDLE AS
Brunswick County Resident Battles Pesky
m
BYTKRRY POPE
When local fur priccs were high
er, about 35 trappers roamed Bruns
wick County's swamps and rural ar
eas in search of game.
But today, Charles Eddins of
Leland is starting to feel he is part of
a dying breed. Fur priccs have fallen
dramatically in recent years at a unte
when the local beaver population is
exploding.
llie result is a major problem for
landowners, farmers and timber
companies who have few trappers to
turn to for help. Eddins may be the
last person in Brunswick County
who still traps beavers for a bounty.
Beavers buiiu dams that stop
streams front flowing freely. Their
mountain of mud, sticks and debris
can also clog up drainage ditches,
causing land that was once high and
dry to flood. Thousands of dollars in
timber may even rot away. The ro
dents arc also destroyers, cutting
down fee.; to build their dams and
chewing away bark for food.
"A lot of people were trapping for
the money," said Eddins. "When the
money went, they went. I can under
stand them not war, ting to go out
here when the pay isn't good. But
now is the time when we need trap
pers."
Supply and demand is the name
of the game. When the demand for
furs increases, the price of pelts will
increase, too. The slow economy
and negative publicity from animal
righ;s activists have pushed the fur
market down, said Eddins.
He sells beaver furs for S8 to SI 2
each to an agent that ships them to
Canada. Traps cost him SI 75 a
dozen, and it takes over an hour to
skin a single beaver. Add the cost of
gasoline for his travel over a three
county area, state license fees and
pelt tags, and the trapper is lucky to
brc*ik even
The person that is still trapping
animals today in Brunswick County
isn't doing it for a living, he said.
"1 did not start trapping for the
money," said Eddins. "It's like duck
hunting or playing golf. It's a sport
and a hobby. 1 really love the sport
and what it stands for."
Today he is secretary of the North
Carolina Trappers Association, an
organization that is some 400 mem
bers strong, and also serves as host
of trapping displays for the annual
Dixie Deer Classic held in Raleigh
each March.
1 le has been trapping animals for
more than 20 years. Never has he
cr?f?n thf* wilri animal nnnnl'tiinn in
"vv" ? * ' ? rvr?.?..v
Brunswick County greater than it is
today, with an abundance of foxes,
beavers and raccoons living in peo
ple's backyards and even on the lo
cal beaches.
"When the prices dropped, not
only did the trappers quit trapping,
but the raccoon hunters quit hunt
ing," be said. "The population is ex
ploding. Mother Nature is going to
move in, and she's going to wipe
them all out. She'll take the young,
the old, the big and the small. You'll
have rabies and distemper that will
spread to your domestic animals."
A trapper's goal is to help control
the animal population and to make
pesks like beavers more manage
able, not to wipe the species out of
CXISieillC, i'lC Soiii.
Locally, trappers can use conibcar
traps, which are s|K*cially designed
to instantly kill the beaver once it
sw ims inside and triggers the device,
from Dec. I to Feb. 20. Lcghold
steel traps cannot be set until the da\
after the deer hunting season ends,
Jan. 2. to avoid injury to hunting
dogs.
Hunters and trappers don't always
see cyc-to-cyc.
"When a man comes along and
finds one of these traps and lakes it,"
Eddins said, "it hurts me. There's a
lot of expense to trapping."
Trappers also fall victim to nega
tive media exposure organi/.cd by
animal rights organizations, said
Eddins, which are opposed to using
animals for research and for making
clothing.
"They don't even want us to use
eggs anymore," he explained, "be
cause we keep chickens in chicken
houses."
Fur prices, he predicts, will in
crease slowly over time. That could
mean good news for Brunswick
County residents who face local
Hooding problems due to beaver ac
tivity.
Eddins serves on a committee that
hopes it can get federal funds to start
a pilot program in October to either
trap or remove beavers from
Brunswick. Columbus and Bladen
counties.
"As a trapper, I am not against
that at all," he said. "I cannot trap all
of the beavers in this three-county
area. The people need help, and if I
can't get litem the help, let's get
someone in here that can."
An employee of Federal Paper
Co. in Rcigclwood, Eddins spends
most of his vacation time trapping
beavers. He pulls a pop-up camper
to Robeson County occasionally to
work in stress ihcrc. Evcn with **
control project in place locally,
Eddins said there will still be a need
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for trappers like himself in
Brunswick County, 10 help persons
who have local flooding problems
on private property.
The control project will work
mainly with county governments
and the N.C. Department of Trans
portation to remove beavers from ar
eas where they pose a threat to high
ways or maintained canals and
ditches. Individual requests would
be placed low on the totem pole, he
said.
l.ast week. Eddins set traps to
help catch heavers from a man-made
pond in Grissettown. The animals
were cutting down trees and piling
in Iron! c? spi!!\vuy,
the water level to rise too high for
the nervous landowner. The dam
would be destroyed, only to have it
rebuilt by the pesky beavers
overnight.
At one time, there were about
1,600 members in the N.C. Trappers
Association. Today, that figure has
dropped to around 400. In the
spring, Eddins lobbied the county
and State Rep. David Redwine for a
new local fox hunting law.
Eddins said the fox population
has also multiplied in Brunswick
County. It's not uncommon to see a
fox chase a dog or cat away from
their food, he said. He hopes local
Beuver ru/julufiui i
k'j <? ?*?
v* \% f i ?
y/^sy!
JC*i
?a
u
CHARLES EDD1NS of Inland sets a beaver trap on a private pond in Grissettown
,^S
STAFF PHOTO BV TERRY POPE
trappers will return to the sport or
hobby that was oncc popular to
them.
"As long as I don't have lo go out
here and kill the animals and throw
them away, ''11 continue trapping,"
he said. "The day I have to throw
animals away is the day I throw my
trans awav."
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