"Bayou Bill" Scifres
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Trap Thievery
Copyright © 2008 by Bill Scifres

Before anyone closes his skinny, unlawful fingers around someone elseís trap, he should know that if he is caught -- even by the trap owner -- he could be a candidate for time in the hoosegow . . . like JAIL.

It seems that we have more trappers this year (maybe because of the economic frailties of the economy) and the Enforcement Division of the DNR is becoming more aware of the propensities for the theft of traps.

Stealing traps, I am told by Lt. Mark Farmer, who handles publicity and public relations chores for the Enforcement Division of the DNR, comes under the Indiana law concerning theft in the Criminal Code. Such an act, if a person is found guilty can be either a felony or a misdemeanor (depending on circumstances).

Trap thievery is not a new thing. It has been a plague on trappers since long before we were on earth, and it probably will be here when we are gone. Trap thieves steal traps for many reasons -- some because the perpetrators are natural born thieves, others because they are opposed to trapping. And there may well be other reasons for this sneaky behavior.

Before I was born, my dad, a tremendous trapper and outdoorsman, had a similar problem with trap thieves (he had 12 dozen Victor steel traps on two trap lines on the Muscatatuck River).

One day, he said, he encountered a trap thief who had a burlap bag about half full of traps he admitted he had pilfered because he didnít liken trapping. He accosted the trap thief, who carried a big walking stick, and told him to pour the stolen traps out on the ground. My dadís traps each were marked with two slight file marks, and he told the thief he had better not have even one of those traps in the sack.

Not one of my dadís traps was in the sack, but my dad left the traps on the ground for the thief to pick up. And he told everyone he knew of the incident -- including the thiefís name.

Trap thievery diminished in the area soon thereafter, my dad said.

Of course, there are certain responsibilities for the trapper, too. First, one of the most important facets of legality responsibility for the trapper, is permission to trap on land that is owned by some other person. If the trapper is legally trapping, theft laws will apply. 

This column does not advocate the Vigilante type of crime fighting, especially in this modern-day era of dealing with those who get off the beaten path. There are plenty of law enforcers to do the job.

Dorothy Corns, head of the DNRís license sales unit, says the Division of fish and Wildlife now has a three-page list of those who have purchased the $75 dollar license to buy fur in the curret year -- July 1, 2008, to June 30, 2009. The list cannot be moved by e-mail, but it can be ordered (U.S. mail) by written request to the Division of Fish and Wildlife, 402 W. Washington Street, Indianapolis, IN 46204-2781, or by telephone: 317-233-6527.

While Vigilante practices are not the way to go in bringing trap thieves and other game law violators to justice, the Department of Natural Resourcesí TIP (Turn In A Poacher) program is a very good way to go. You may even get a reward for your tip. The telephone number for reporting infractions is 1-800-847-6347. 

FLY FISHING EXPO --The fourth annual Indiana Fly Fishing Expo is scheduled January 31 and February 1, 2009, at Scott Hall of the Johnson County Fairgrounds.

Hours for the two-day event that high lights many phases of fly fishing will be 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on the first day (Saturday), and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the second day (Sunday).

Admission will be $3 for adults, children less than 16, free.

Management of the show says non-fishing vendors are not accepted as exhibitors.

The Johnson County Fairgrounds are south of Franklin near Atterbury State Fish and Wildlife Area west of U.S. 31.

All columns, essays, and photos are copyrighted by Bill Scifres and may not be reproduced in any form without prior permission from the author.  For reproduction permission and media usage fees, contact: Bill Scifres, 6420 East 116th Street, Fishers, IN 46038, E-mail: billscifres@aol.com

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