In the late 1940's, Maine trappers were dissatisfied with the trapping season. The Legislature set the season at that time. Clyde Wells of Saco and H.E. Ford of Berwick thought that unifying the trappers in Maine was a necessity.
On September 1, 1947, the Maine Trappers Association (MTA) was formed. Luther DeVoe was elected president, Elwyn Smith was elected vice-president, and J. Cliff Francis was elected secretary-treasurer. It seems that this meeting took place without the knowledge of either Mr. Ford or Mr. Wells. Membership dues were set at $1 per year.
Shortly after MTA was formed, a serious conflict arose. The major issue, which divided the trappers of Maine in the 1947-1952 period, was the spring trapping of muskrat. Some trappers firmly believed that trapping muskrat during the spring of the year should be allowed. The officers of the MTA and most of its members were united against a spring season.
Sixteen trappers, unhappy with the MTA, met on May 15, 1948. The outcome of this meeting was another organization, Trappers Inc. of Maine. Ira Closson was elected its first president, Clayton Drew was elected vice-president, and J. Cliff Francis was elected secretary-treasurer. It is interesting to note that Mr. Francis held the same office in both organizations. H.E. Ford became that organizations second president when Ira Closson retired because of ill health. Due to lack of funds and lack of active members, Trappers Inc. of Maine was in existence for only three years.
A memo written June 16, 1948 by Walter Arnold announces the MTA summer convention to be held in Monticello on the Fish & Game Club grounds on August 22 and 23rd. The organizing committee solicited a great deal of scents, books, etc. from dealers from various parts of the country. They were to be given out free to attending members.
The next earliest known MTA document is a financial ledger started by Herb Collins in October 1949. The meeting minutes date back to September 10, 1967. Mrs. Irene Alieff was then secretary. It is interesting to note that she held the office of secretary-treasurer for 17 years, from 1956 to 1973.
The 3rd annual convention was held at East Millinocket on October 16, 1949. The meeting was called to order by President Luther DeVoe. It was decided at that meeting to publish a newsletter to further interest in the Association. The president and secretary-treasurer were authorized to edit the newsletter. A collection was started to help defray the cost of the magazine and $26 was collected. Officers elected at this meeting were Walter Arnold as president, Daniel Snow as vice president and Herbert Collins as secretary-treasurer.
The first newsletter, the "Maine Trapper", was published in December of 1949 by its editor Walter Arnold. The issue consisted of 11 pages. In his first editorial, Mr. Arnold stated that "A trappers organization must be democraticand the majority must rule. The minority must be good losers...accept defeat like the true sportsmen they are and go along to make the majority ruling a success."
An announcement was made in the first "Maine Trapper" that the Maine Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit of UM-Orono (MCWRU) was planning research work on the fisher. They were interested in obtaining as many fisher carcasses as possible and asked Maine trappers to help.
"Some Notes on the Fisher" by the MCWRU stated that they received 50 carcasses of the 124 fisher that were legally trapped in Maine in 1950. Examination of the digestive tracts showed that the leading food items at that season were snowshoe hare, porcupines, red squirrels, mice and shrews. 13 of the 15 males and only one of the 35 female carcasses were found to have porcupine quills embedded in the flesh. The researchers stated that Maine had more fisher at that time than they had had in years and suggested that trappers help to see to it that seasons were not too lengthy.
On January 1, 1950, MTA's total assets listed at $56.94 and there were 73 members. That same year, 2,348 trapping licenses were sold. One of those was a non-resident.
At the Spring meeting on March 26, 1950 in Dixfield, the group streamlined the MTA constitution and By-laws.
The state was divided into districts and directors were chosen to hold MTA meetings in their sections of the state. Those directors discussed trapping issues and seasons with trappers in their local areas and corresponded mostly by mail with the MTA officers to conduct most of the official business of the Association.
The trappers present voted to work to do away with all tagging fees of fur pelts. The group also voted for a Dec. 1st to Feb. 7th open fisher season. After much discussion they agreed not to ask for a fox bounty, but voted in favor of a $25 bounty on bobcats. They also favored cutting the law on beaver dams down to 5 feet.
Trappers all over the country and in Maine were working to gain the elimination of a 20% excise tax on all dressed furs (clothing) made up from furs produced in this country. With the outbreak of hostilities in Korea, it became evident that the lessening of the 20% tax was "dead as a door nail".
At the fall convention that year new officers were elected. Harvey Alieff became president, Daniel Snow was elected Vice president and Walter Arnold took on the office of secretary-treasurer. The trappers present at that meeting voted in favor of a $25 bounty on bear. They also agreed on an open season on fisher every other year, from Nov. 15 to Dec. 15. They voted to form a committee to sit with the Fish & Wildlife Department to see what could be accomplished in defining beaver dams, what were live dams and what were not.
In Jan. 1951, total assets listed at $110.24 and by the end of '51, there were 365 members in the MTA. The March 1951 newsletter talks of beaver blankets selling for as low as $27 at the start of the season, but by the end of the season were easily bringing $40. November muskrat sold from $1.75 to $1.90 average price.
September 16, 1951 was the date of the fall convention. It was held in Surry at Camp Nokomis. President Harvey Alieff was on his way there from Ashland when he had the misfortune of having his car run into by another car near Enfield. As soon as those at the meeting heard of the accident, a car was sent out on the 170 mile round trip to pick up Harvey and his wife Florence.
Harvey was noted to be one of the MTA's best workers. While he was waiting at the scene of the accident for the police, he met a person who seemed to be a good prospect for a member. When he arrived at the meeting, he turned in that person's application for membership.
In April 1952 the MTA officers started their first official membership drive. All members were asked to sign up as many as they could, with prizes being given to those who brought in the highest number of members.
The Ashland branch of the MTA was the first to sponsor a boy to the Camp Jordan Junior Conservation Camp in Ellsworth. The program was designed to help "boys" learn how to enjoy themselves more and be safe in the woods. The MTA, through its chapters, still sponsors students (boys and girls) to the camp at the Bryant Pond Conservation School each year.
The '82 Fall convention was held on September 7 at the Lincoln Fish & Game Club in Lincoln. The secretary reported that there were 500 members and a cash reserve of $257.89. Many trapping issues were discussed. After considerable debate, the members voted to go along with the present beaver pelt tagging law and the $2 fee. 100 items were given out free as door prizes to attending members, anything from a dozen traps to a bottle of trapping lure.
The first mention of an "insignia" for the MTA was in the Summer 1953 newsletter. But it wasn't until years later that the emblem with trap in the center became the MTA logo.
The 1953 Fall convention was held September 6 in Dixfield. The secretary-treasurer reported a balance of $260 in the treasury. Out-going president Harvey Alieff was urged to hold office again but felt he had held it long enough. Soon after, Mr. Alieff ended up in the hospital where he signed up another member for the Association. In December 1953, a membership drive was started. President John Kidder stated that he was going to do his best to bring us up to 1000 members. A pack basket was to be offered as first prize to the person signing up the most new members. By Summer '54, Harvey Alieff had signed up 129 members winning 1st place and Herbert Howard took 2nd place by signing up 33 members.
Hurricane Carol almost totally washed out the 1954 Fall convention on September 12. Of the many that started out toward Guilford, only 36 made it to their destination. The rest could not find roads that were passable and had to turn back.
Seasons were on the agenda, as usual. And the $25 bounty on bobcats was again discussed and approved by members. The members favored removing the bounty on bear. They also voted to continue the "Maine Trapper" with Walter Arnold as editor. They voted to pay him $25 for each edition. They also voted to pay the secretary-treasurer $25 for the year.
In January 1955, the MTA began another membership contest. By summer, only 48 new members were signed up though there were 2,005 licensed trappers in the state. The Fall convention was to be held at Shin Pond. There are no records or newsletters that cover that event. In the financial ledger that exists for that time period, entries are made for all of 1955 until the last entry for that year was made at the fall meeting, "flowers for John Kidders funeral" for $10.53.
Erlon Gill became president at that time, but it seems as though the Association was very inactive until Sept. '56 when the financial ledger again shows entries on Sept. 9, 1956 for $105 for membership dues. There were no newsletters published during all of 1956 until January of '57. Gordon McGowan was then President and Walter Arnold was still the Editor.
The September 9, 1956 Fall convention was held at Corinna. There were about 100 members present. Trapping issues were the main topic of discussion. Only 218 members were paid up at that time. Interest seemed to be diminishing. Another membership contest was held that year. The winner was John Alieff who turned in 100 new memberships and renewals.
The '57 Fall convention was held at Corinna on September 6. The first discussion on raising membership dues from $1 was a topic at the meeting. Members voted to leave it as it was. A silver fox scarf was auctioned off and sold for $12. It was voted that the newsletter be sent to paid up members only. A committee was formed to bring in a slate of candidates for the election of officers at the next Convention. There were 1,656 trapping licenses sold that year.
In early 1957, Jasper Haynes wrote to and offered a fur coat to First Lady Mamie Eisenhower. He explained to her that if she would own and wear a beaver coat, it would prompt others to do likewise. This would help the Maine fur industry. The First Lady wrote to him explaining why she didn't want the coat as a gift.
Mr. Haynes then asked Maine trappers for donations of pelts with which to manufacture the coat. It was made at the Maine Fur Company on State Street in Bangor. The coat was then given to Mrs. Eisenhower in late 1957. According to Walter Arnold, Mr. Haynes worked almost single handedly and donated much of his time and money to make the coat a reality. It was made of choice Maine beaver pelts.
The Fall convention in 1958 was held on Sept. 14 in Corinna. The meeting lasted for almost 4 hours and the topics of discussion ranged from trapping seasons to bounties.
The December '58 newsletter mainly contained pleas from the officers to the members of the Association to pay their dues and round up some new members. Interest seemed to be decreasing because of low fur prices.
The newsletter was not published in '59 or '60. Lack of funds and interest were the main reasons. Dues were not being paid. Total taken in for dues in 1959 was $46. 1960 was no better. Mrs. Alieff received no dues during the entire year.
At the Fall convention on Sept. 12 in Corinna, $71 was taken in for membership dues. The number of licensed trappers was down to 1,381.
In the Fall of '61, Irene Alieff, still secretary-treasurer, sent out a letter to all members announcing the 1961 Fall convention. It was to be held in Corinna. She appealed to the members to please attend and pay their dues so that the newsletter could again be sent out to members. There are no records for that meeting.
Mrs. Alieff continued to send letters out periodically asking for dues and informing members of events. In the September '62 newsletter, President John Alieff asked that people get involved in the Association. John and Irene Alieff stated in this letter that they would not be running for office again and it would be up to someone else to take over.
Another newsletter was sent out in August 1963 to announce the Fall meeting being held on Sept. 8. John and Irene Alieff were still president and secretary-treasurer. Evidently, no one stepped up to fill the positions in the previous year. The Alieff's, especially Irene, are credited by many as holding the Association together during the lean years. It is interesting to note that neither John nor Irene trapped, but felt strongly about Maine citizens having the right to trap.
In December 1963, new officers elected were Oscar Cronk Jr. - president and editor. Irene Alieff remained as secretary-treasurer. There was a small auction where $24 was taken in for the treasury. Membership stood at about 200, and dues were still $1. Trapping licenses sold in 1964 numbered 1,698.
At the fall meeting in 1967, members voted to order 100 shoulder patches. The design was to be a blaze orange shield with a black trap and green lettering.
The fall meetings in 1968, 1969 and 1970 averaged 4 to 5 hours long. The election of officers, a steak dinner and an auction after the meeting were on the agenda. In 1971 there were about 100 members. The treasury never had more than a few hundred dollars in it. In Sept. 1971, the members voted not to have spring meetings.
In 1973, a board of directors was set up to help out the officers running the MTA. The board members were Dave Knupp, Bill Makowski, Darryl Carter, Luther Choate, Oscar Cronk, Merrit Kimball, and Bob Pomeroy. They were assigned to work on the Anti-trapping committee, which was formed to keep track of the anti-trap movement.
The 1973 fall meeting was held at the St. Albans Fish & Game Club. Maynard Connors was guest speaker. The number of trapping licenses sold in 1973 was 2,532. It was voted to again have a spring meeting, which was held on May 19, 1974 in East Millinocket.
Membership was again on the rise. At the September '74 fall meeting, Bill Makowski was appointed to contact IF&W in regard to initiating a beaver management program whereas a trapper in any area could be contacted to remove nuisance beaver in the off season rather than have them destroyed. It was voted to support legislation to outlaw the use of snap-on teeth on all land sets, statewide. Maynard Connors was responsible for the introduction of the bill. It was voted to become affiliated with the Fur Takers of America.
MTA set up a booth at the Bangor Sportsman's Show for the first time in March of '74. The booth had many visitors. Treasurer's report at that time listed MTA's assets at $1700.
At the '75 fall meeting, Wallace Barron gave several proposals suggested by the Central Maine Chapter. It was decided that the divisions of the MTA would be called "chapters". It was voted that the president appoint a director from each district that had not as yet organized a chapter.
In 1975, eleven year old Clifford Robinson died on the trap line. His parents donated part of his last fur money to the MTA to be used for producing a flag to be hung at all MTA events. A flag design contest was held and, in September of 1977, a vote was taken on the flag design. At the 2-day fall meet in Hudson in 1979, the flag was unfolded. Unfortunately, the winner of the contest died in a sledding accident shortly after submitting his flag design.
Early in 1976, an anti-leghold trap ordinance was defeated at the Wells town meeting by an estimated 10 to 1 vote. MTA members got the facts to the voters to achieve that goal. At the Spring meeting that year, some members donated furs to be used at the MTA display booth. A motion was made and passed to check into the advantages of the Association becoming incorporated.
In a letter to all licensed trappers in 1976 from IF&W, Commissioner Marsh outlined new rules pertaining to trapping. The letter also stated that with the raw fur market experiencing a rapid rise in prices and because of an increased number of trappers.... there no longer appeared to be enough animals so that trappers could take all they would like or used to catch a few years back. It was required that the pelts of 6 species be tagged so that they could better determine whether or not the annual surplus is exceeded in the trappers catch. The number of licensed trappers in 1976 had risen to 3,325.
The annual Fall meeting was held on September 12 in Berwick. At the fall meeting, a motion was made and passed that new officers elected would not take office until the end of each annual meeting. A lengthy discussion took place on the changes in trapping laws.
The 1977 Spring meeting was held at the Calument Club in Augusta on June 5. The members voted to donate $500 to the Sportsman's Alliance of Maine.
In April of '77, LD136, An Act to Prohibit Fish & Game Wardens from Trapping for Animals Unless a Local Trapper Is Used for the Trapping, came before the 107th Legislative Committee on Fisheries and Wildlife. MTA President Oscar Cronk supported the bill but stated that a warden should be allowed to trap on his vacation and out of his district (not on state time or with state equipment).
Oscar also supported a bill to allow farmers to shoot any wild animal destroying livestock and crops, with the exception of deer or moose, at night. This was done to promote a better relationship between the trapper and the landowner.
In 1978, Coyote control seminars were held in Dixfield and Lincoln and were highly successful. 40 men were chosen to attend. The seminars were sponsored by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the Maine IF&W and the MTA. More seminars were planned for September to give instruction to the general public.
The MTA set up a booth again at the 40th annual Bangor Sportsman's Show. The display booth had various animal sets, furs, literature, fur coats and demonstrations on skinning. They put on 5 main stage shows in which they made sets, talked about furbearer management, showed raw pelts and the proper traps to catch those pelts and finished with a fur fashion show.
In the summer of '78, Oscar Cronk announced that he would not run for the office of President again. He had served since 1963 and had put a tremendous amount of time and effort into the MTA.
150 people attended the 1978 fall meeting at the Franklin Grange Hall in Franklin. Joe Baldwin was elected President. Oscar was presented with a plaque in recognition of his 14 years of faithful service to the Maine trappers.
In 1979, membership rose to 497 in March. Total assets were listed at $4,827.58. A proposal to establish an annual budget was made at the spring meeting that month. Each year since then, a committee has designed a budget by which the MTA plans its expenses.
The first two-day Rendezvous and Fall Meeting (since 1948) was held in Hudson in September '79. Acquaintances renewed and past trap lines were relived. Approximately 1,000 people visited the site on that day. The first annual Trapper of the Year award was given at the business meeting where over 200 people were in attendance. Norman Gray of Fryeburg was the recipient. 116 new MTA memberships plus 170 renewals were issued at the two-day event.
In early 1980 there were 1032 members. The first Maine Trappers $500 Scholarship award was presented in April 1980 at the University of Maine to a 4th year wildlife management student, William LaFlamme of Augusta.
The spring meeting on May 4 had 100 members present. Commissioner Glenn Manual of the IF&W was guest speaker. Also at the meeting, Bob Wiseman made a motion that the MTA elect a representative or lobbyist to support the MTA in Augusta. The motion was seconded and passed to set aside $1500 for the purpose of lobbying.
During 1980, the MTA became affiliated with the National Trappers Association. It was important to the state organization in the continuing battle with the anti groups throughout the country.
Walter L. Arnold, a nationally known trapper and one of the original founders of the Maine Trappers Association, died July 6, 1980 at the age of 86. Born in Willimantic, he learned to hunt, trap and guide with his father. After the war, he started a mail order business selling animal trapping scents and lures, which he made. He was the first man ever to advertise and sell lure-making ingredients. He authored several trapping books. Trappers young and old traveled to the conventions to meet him and ask questions about trapping.
Dan McAllister served as president from Sept. 1981 to Sept. 1983. During his presidency, Dan initiated the idea of endowments to assure income during times of low membership. He established a Legislative Fund and set a goal of $20,000. In the early 1980's a fundraising drive was held to increase the Legislative Fund. All chapters joined in and those that raised the most money were Union River, Northern Coastal and Central Maine. The total donated by chapters amounted to $3,479. A banquet honoring those who donated $100 or more was held Dec. 17, 1983. The fund reached the $20,000 goal in July 1991.
In 1981, a Lifetime Membership in the MTA was established. The money collected for these special memberships were to be put into an account with only the interest being used for expenses. The Conservation Fund was established to pay for continuing education in schools (the UMO scholarship award).
Dan initiated several educational programs which included the booklet "Utilizing Maine's Fur Resources", "The History of Trapping", the Dog Deer poster, a flipchart used in the school programs, the guide to fur auctions, material on furbearer diseases, and the gestation table for furbearers.
He wrote the "Guidelines For Forming Chapters". Traveling statewide, he promoted the concept and was actively involved in forming several chapters. Along with Dave Knupp and Bill Makowski, Dan wrote the chapter concept into the By-laws though there was much opposition.
Dan promoted the scholarship program at the University of Maine. Bruce Gould, Mark Mowatt and he personally funded the first $200 scholarship, which was given to student Beth Parks toward her continuing research on the Maine coyote.
A June 1981 report shows 1319 members.
The Penobscot Chapter held a field day on Oct. 3, 1982 in West Corinth at Sandra and Bob Wiseman's. 200 trappers attended. Bruce Gould, Steve Plummer, Joe Baldwin and Ernie Lugdon did demos and the day was a success.
Emil O. Raatikainen passed away on Feb. 24, 1983. He served as an executive officer for 5 years, and also as NTA director. When Emil passed away, there was $2.77 cash on hand in the treasury. In his memory, the $2.77 remains the amount of cash on hand in the MTA treasury and is part of the MTA history collection. The $500 scholarship presented by MTA to a UMO student each year was renamed the Emil O. Raatikainen Scholarship in his honor.
Norm Gray submitted a letter requesting his appointment as Maine's Director to the National Trappers Association. Mr. Gray was so appointed.
According to Sue Baldwin's records, though there were 2061 members on the rolls in December 1983, only 919 were paid up. In May 1984 with 2156 on the rolls, 1350 were actually paid up.
MTA president McAllister received a letter in 1983 from the Common Ground Fair Committee asking that we have our educational booth there. By vote of their organizers, we were asked to leave our traps at home. The feeling of the Committee was that the trappers fulfilled an important educational function at the fair and they would again be invited if the leghold trap was not advocated.
Dan replied to the organizers and explained the MTA stand on educational matters. He told them that we were not in the practice of hiding things and did not intend to start. He also reminded the Fair Committee that on a previous opening day of the Fair, 2 people questioned why the trappers were there, but 14 people complained that no coffee was served. The MTA was invited back, with traps, and still has a booth at the fair each year.
Also in 1983, at the Augusta Sportsman's Show, the best dressed beaver trapper contest was a crowd pleaser. There were also trap setting contests and Sue Baldwin made her famous beaver stew to pass out at the booth.
In 1984, the due date for an MTA membership was changed from "September to September" to "one year from date of issue". This made more work for the membership secretary, but members were happier that they were getting a full year of membership when joining in June or July. Dues were raised to $7 for a regular membership.
In years past, the MTA offered a trapper education course, on an invitation basis by the teachers, to schools in Maine. This course was basically why it is necessary to trap furbearers, not how to trap. By offering these courses, MTA instructors became increasingly aware of the need and acceptance by both teachers and students of trapping as a tool in wildlife management.
LD 747, An Act to Require Completion of an Education Program in Order to be Eligible to Purchase an Initial Trapping License, was signed into law in May 1985. The bill, sponsored by the MTA, required first time buyers of an adult trapping license to complete a state approved trapper education and safety course.
The commissioner of IF&W then established a committee made up of trappers (Dan McAllister and Norman Gray), fur buyers, several Maine IF&W wardens and biologists along with Gary Anderson of the IF&W Safety Division. In the Spring of 1987, the IF&W accepted the recommendations of the committee on course length, content and materials and began implementation. The program was designed to teach trapper responsibility. Topics included identification of furbearers, obtaining landowner permission, furbearer management, safety, sets and equipment, trapping ethics and methods of humane trapping.
Instructors were certified by IF&W before they could teach the course. Norm Gray and Dan McAllister trained a large number of state instructors. And along with his wife Sally, Dan designed the slide program, used by IF&W, on ethics and laws and wrote the narrative.
Members continue to put on trapping classes at the Penobscot Conservation Club Hunter Safety Day. Volunteers also spend many hours at boy scout jamborees and grade schools around the state to teach children about Maine furbearers and trapping.
In 1985, the MTA took on the tremendous task of co-sponsoring the Bangor Sportsman's Show with the Penobscot County Conservation Club. When it was all over, reported profits were $5055.80.
A cabin was constructed by the MTA in 1986 at the Living History Settlement in Bradley, Maine. A few weekends each year, MTA members dress in period clothing and show the many visitors how the line cabin was used. The cabin is typical of cabins built during the early days of trapping which was used by trappers for an overnight stay while checking the trap line.
In the summer of '86, the MTA began discussing the possibility of hiring an Executive Director. The Executive Officers felt that it could not be put off any longer. The Association had grown to a point where too much time was necessary to run the organization. A volunteer with another full time job was not adequate. Bob Jenney, MTA President that year, wrote up a proposal which included a list of job duties. Along with coordinating the day to day activities of the MTA, the Executive Director would also serve as Legislative lobbyist. Beginning pay was set up at $240 per week plus expenses. At the Fall Meeting on Sept. 14 in Dixmont, motion was made and passed to adopt the proposal and hire Joe Baldwin for the position.
Louise Foster started collecting recipes for a cookbook. The project was put on hold in 1987 and the recipes passed on for a couple of years with the intention of completing the book. Volume 1 of the cookbook was finally put into print by secretary Mary Butler in 1993. A Volume 2 was completed in 1995. And now a special 50th anniversary edition is being printed for sale at the Fall rendezvous. It contains all of Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 recipes with the addition of about 20 more recipes from the MTA files.
In Jan. 1987, the MTA donated $2,500 to the Maine Cooperative Fish & Wildlife Research Unit at the University of Maine. The money was to be used to help them continue its study of fishers in the state.
To celebrate the 1987 40th anniversary of the MTA, commemorative belt buckles were ordered. Buckles numbered 1 through 10 were auctioned off and brought in $620. Buckle number 1 sold for $255.
Because of the increased workload of the MTA secretary, the job of handling the memberships for the MTA was separated from that position. Sue Baldwin was appointed Membership Secretary. She held a membership drive in the Fall of 1987. Letters were sent out to 2,978 licensed trappers which brought in 98 new members
Maine was host to the Northeast Coalition of State Trappers Associations. The conference was an idea which came about 3 years earlier. The conference is a forum in which members of trappers associations in the northeast states exchange ideas and discuss issues. The meeting was held in Vassalboro in April of 1987. Rep's from 8 of the 10 member states attended the 3-day event.
In March of 1987, MTA co-hosted the Eastern Maine Sportsman's show with the Penobscot County Conservation Club. In the end, the profit was $4550. In 1988 it was decided that the MTA would put on a trade show at the Clinton Fair Grounds. The project was later abandoned due to a lack of participation on the part of vendors and other sporting clubs.
Secretary Irene Bellows along with the Union River Chapter suggested that the MTA hold a meeting of all sportsman's groups in Maine. The purpose would be to discuss the common problems facing sportsmen. A small but enthusiastic group met in the Augusta Civic Center. Each group had its own problems; human apathy was a concern as well as the vast amount of negative press. All groups believed public education was the best line of defense.
A major fund-raiser was planned in 1986. A committee was formed to locate a parcel of land to be raffled off. The land chosen was located in Oakfield overlooking Spaulding Pond at a cost of $2900. Two hundred tickets were to be sold at $50 each. 119 tickets were sold. The winner was chosen at the Spring Meeting in 1988. He was Scott Hawkes of Brunswick.
On May 14, 1988, the MTA had a float for the second year in the Maine State Parade. Craig Wood, then President of the South Central Chapter, organized the effort. Spectator reaction was mixed. Some looked on with interest while a few others called us murderers.
In 1988, the Legislative Liaison position was created as a separate, contracted position. Joe Baldwin was the first person chosen to fill this position and held it until 1996. In September 1988, the Executive Director position was changed to a part time position. The Legislative Liaison became a full time position at $65 per day.
In 1989, the MTA won the battle to keep the mandatory trapper training program in place. A bill had been introduced to abolish the program. The cost of a regular membership went to $10 in 1988.
Richard Hamor took over as membership secretary in September. A mailing in 1989 to 4000 licensed trappers brought in 300 new members.
Russ Denis instituted the Trapper Camp Inspection Program in Jan. of 1990. The program was first suggested by Wally Barron who thought that the MTA should start a voluntary camp watch program. The intent of the program was to enhance the visibility of the Maine trapper through positive public image. 3 x 5" cards were printed and distributed. The cards were to be used by trappers when out in the woods. If they came upon an unoccupied camp, they could fill out the card stating the condition of the camp the day they were there and post it there for the owner. These cards are still available from the MTA secretary.
The MTA co-sponsored the Fiddlehead Festival in the Spring of 1991. It was held at Unity College. The MTA provided the fiddleheads and the manpower. The event was well attended and they ran out of fiddleheads within the first 2 hours. The MTA continued to co-sponsor the event for 3 more years.
In a direct mailing to all licensed trappers early in 1991, a request was made for monetary assistance in support of the Legislative efforts of the MTA. The results were 84 new memberships and 60 renewals. The total funds taken in were $1847 with $652 being contributed specifically to the Legislative Fund.
Norm Gray passed away in 1991. Norm was another of the most dedicated MTA members, a friend to many.
At the Spring meeting in Patten that year, it was reported that there were 1349 members on the list, but 471 were past due. The Fall meeting was held in Skowhegan and was dedicated to the memory of Norm Gray. Wally Barron was given the Lifetime Achievement Award. MTA's total worth at that time was $45,000.
The IF&W asked that MTA donate Braille plaques in memory of Norm Gray to the Gray Animal Farm. A building had been constructed at the Farm as an education resource for visitors. The building was dedicated to MTA's Norm Gray and John Hunt, an IF&W furbearer biologist. MTA also provided furs for the exhibit.
Wendy Williams spent 2 years making a commemorative quilt that was to be raffled off. Each square of the quilt contained an outline of one of the states with a patch from its trapping association. Tickets were sold at the national trappers convention in August that year. In Dec. 1991 the winner drawn was James Wilson from Indiana. Total taken in on the quilt was $2300. Half was donated to the NTA.
In late 1991 at a meeting of the public relations committee, it was decided that donating a fur coat to Miss Maine and Miss Junior Maine would be good public relations for MTA. Pelts and money were donated by members. The coats were designed and crafted by World Traders of Brewer. Dan McAllister of MTA and Mark Mowatt of World Traders presented the coats at the award ceremonies.
The 1992 Spring meeting was again held in Patten. The membership list had a total of 921 members. Most of those who were not paid up had been taken off of the mailing list.
The IF&W released the Administrative Policy Regarding the Salvage of Road-Killed Animals.
A bronze plaque was placed on the trappers line cabin at Leonard's Mills. The camp was dedicated to Norm Gray. His widow Edith Gray attended the dedication and presented a check for $600. The money was used to start a new educational fund to be called the Edith E. Gray Education Fund in memory of Norman Gray. The interest from this fund was to be used to buy books for school libraries.
The 1992 Fall Rendezvous was held in Dixmont. Fur prices were down. At the Fall fur auction in December, muskrat's averaged $1.75 and beaver averaged $10.62.
Don Dudley was chosen to sit on the Governor's council on Landowner/Sportsmen Relations which was formed in October '92 and still exists. The purpose of the council is to work to improve relations between the two groups. Major topics of discussion in the first year were dumping, permission, ruts in roads and gates left open.
Bob Wiseman and Joe Baldwin became members of the Sportsmen/Forest Landowner Alliance. This group is made up of 10 landowners and 10 land user groups. It was organized to promote better understanding between forest landowners and sportsmen, to identify their common interests, and to minimize conflicts between the two groups. Bob Wiseman still attends the meetings of that group representing the MTA along with Joe Powers.
On March 18, a group of MTA executive officers and some members gathered at the Capitol Building in Augusta as they had done many times before. In conjunction with Agricultural Day, the MTA set up an information exhibit of tanned furs and mounts. Lloyd Williams made fur hats and World Traders displayed fur coats for everyone to try on. State Senators, Representatives and many others stopped by for coffee, donuts and conversation. The general assessment of the day was that MTA was well received.
At the winter fur auction, muskrats average $1.60 and beaver averaged $9.75. The blizzard of '93 closed down the Orono Sportsman's Show on Saturday at 5 PM and it did not reopen on Sunday. The MTA officers met with the Director of the North Maine Woods, Al Cowperthwaite. One major topic of discussion was beaver problems on paper company roads. Out of this discussion came a decision to work with the North Maine Woods landowners.
The MTA's total worth stood at $59,000 in '93. Bill Thompson resigned as NTA Director and Les Thompson stepped up to fill the position and still holds the position as of the date of this yearbook.
Because of a lack of donated furs, the plan to again give Miss Maine a fur coat was voted down. The MTA would have had to purchase the coats which would not have been made with Maine fur. Unfortunately, we lost out on this public relations effort.
In an effort to try a new type of fund-raiser, the MTA 1994 Furbearer Calendar was compiled by Mary Butler. And W. Ralph Marden donated all of the artwork - a drawing of a different furbearer for each month of the year. The calendar sold well, but because of the timing of the events at which we could sell such an item, it was decided that we would not try it again for a while. (sportsmen shows were too late, rendezvous was too early)
Patti Forbes and Ralph Marden sent out a letter to all licensed trappers asking them to join. The mailing resulted in 90 new members, 7 of which were new lifetime members.
Madelyn Freeman made and donated another quilt to the MTA. It was raffled off at the Fall meeting in 1994 and made $347 for the MTA.
The Fall Rendezvous was held in Mt. Chase. At the business meeting, a vote was taken to include a family membership in the MTA. The addition was approved at $18 per family (two adults and all unmarried children under 18). The MTA's total worth was $66,000.
Ted Perkins took over as membership director in the fall of '94. The MTA at that time started offering cut-rate subscriptions to the Trapper & Predator Caller magazine at the same time. By Jan. '95, 50 members had signed up for the deal, and it has increased steadily ever since.
At the 1995 Spring meeting, a by-laws change to reduce the number of members needed for a quorum to hold an annual meeting from 5% to 4% of the total membership.
Also that year, Legislative Liaison Joe Baldwin convinced all who it was necessary to convince to get us back one of the 4 weeks of bear trapping we lost a few years back. Starting in Sept. '95, bear trapping season ran Sept. 24 to Oct. 31.
In July '95, there were 1117 members on the roster with 352 past due.
Madelyn Freeman offered to make an MTA flag for each chapter. She also donated the famous "skunk" quilt to be raffled off at the Fall Rendezvous.
Joe Powers presented a proposal to the IF&W requesting that muskrat season open one week earlier in the northern section of the State. The IF&W accepted his reasoning and starting in 1996, muskrat season started a week earlier up north.
The MTA Executive Committee continues to meet quarterly, usually in the Bangor area because it is the most central location for all of the officers who travel from all over Maine.
The MTA is where it is today because of the hard work of many, many people. Some had never set a trap and were trappers in their hearts only. But they were dedicated just the same. Dedicated to protecting the rights of trappers and sportsmen. There's no way to name them all, but we thank each and every one of them for their time, their dedication and their support.
NOTE: The above history dates from 1949 to 1997. Information for 1998 to the present can be obtained from the MTA quarterly newsletters until such time when the info is compiled and added to this website.