Trappers Donate Furs to Beaver-Trapping Girl Scouts

TRADITION: Kenai Peninsula group backs girls' efforts to learn

The Associated Press / Anchorage Daily News / December 26, 2003

KENAI -- Kenai trappers are donating some pelts to Girl Scout Troop 34, whose beaver-trapping project angered animal rights activists last month.

The Kenai Peninsula Trappers Association said it wanted to show support for the Fairbanks troop after criticism from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. PETA was upset after learning that about 10 members of the troop and their families helped catch two beavers using snares and lethal traps last spring.

The trappers had many reasons for their donation, said Roy Smith, an association member.

"We thought it would be a good thing to do," he said. "We wanted to ensure that the girls would have enough furs to make the hats, mittens and other items they had intended to make before PETA got involved."

The girls participated in the state-run Take a Kid Trapping program, which is aimed at controlling flooding and other damage caused by an increasing number of beavers along the lower Chena River in Fairbanks. As part of their project, the girls also want to cook beaver meat.

"Not only were the Girls Scouts learning about nature, diversity and the circle of life, but they were also trapping ethically, legally and were planning on using the entire animal, not just the fur," Smith said.

The trappers believe the controversy was a matter of differing ideologies as well as a cultural misunderstanding on the part of PETA.

"Here in Alaska, trapping and wearing fur is a tradition that's gone on for hundreds of years," said Craig Lott, chairman of the association. "Here it's as much about function as it is fashion. Fur serves a purpose. It's warmer. Ask any dog musher, they'll tell you."

In all, the group has collected the pelts of six beavers, one coyote and one wolverine.

"Anytime we can help, we try to," Lott said. "Hopefully this will help the girls out."

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