If you don't believe that trapping wild animals, what the Pennsylvania Game Commission refers to and regulates as "fur-taking," is controversial, you haven't been paying attention.
Fur-taking is recognized by the Game Commission as a legitimate sport or occupation. It enforces regulations dealing with bag limits, seasons and species and even offers tips for trappers on its website.
It should come as no surprise that there are people in Warren County who participate in this practice, which in many ways has been unchanged for the past several hundred years. Trappers were among the first Europeans to explore this continent, and those who lived here prior to that also practiced trapping in some forms.
There is far more science involved, with specialized scents, snares, traps and books on strategies.
Not nearly as many people trap these days as even 50 years ago, though as recently as the late 1980s there was a lively annual fur trading event held in Marienville. No more; fur has fallen from favor among clothing designers, driving down the demand and the prices paid for pelts.
The idea of trapping is a squirm-producing thought for many people, including some hunters who seek an instant kill with a well-placed bullet. For them, a deer that hits the ground already dead is a success in itself.
Even that form of hunting is repugnant to some, but generally accepted here.
Make no mistake, the end result of hunting and trapping, is a dead animal. Otherwise, hunters would be armed with cameras; trophy bucks would be displayed on photographic paper, rather than preserved heads hung on a wall. And, if subsistence hunting was the exclusive mission, the number of points on an inedible antler would be inconsequential.
The bottom line is that trapping (or fur-taking) and hunting (harvesting) are both practiced, legal and regulated in Pennsylvania.
The story we published on a particularly successful trapper who has become nationally known for his abilities has generated significant comment pro and con.
We expected that. We were surprised at the tone of the debate, however.