Illinois Department of Natural Resources
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Bob Bluett, 217-782-6384
ILLINOIS TRAPPER IRV SCHIRMER WINS NATIONAL AWARD FOR WORK IN
CONSERVATION LEADERSHIP, EDUCATION AND OUTREACH
SPRINGFIELD, ILL. -- Irv Schirmer, an Illinois trapper from Marengo,
won the 2004 Fur Takers of America’s prestigious American Heritage
Award. The national honor is given annually to an outstanding individual
or organization for promoting trapping as an important wildlife
Schirmer was credited for his “tireless work to promote trapping
and conservation, particularly with kids who have little knowledge
about trapping and its role in our nation’s heritage,” says Carol
Krumwiede, FTA Secretary, from Onarga. Previous honorees include
Congressman Don Young from Alaska and the Wildlife Legislative Fund
“Irv shares his passion for trapping and wildlife with anyone who
will listen,” Krumwiede adds. “It would be hard to determine how
many lives he’s touched with his positive messages and example.”
Schirmer’s efforts include teaching Illinois trapper safety and
education courses (mandatory for first-time trappers under the age
of 18); organizing trappers to form a strong FTA chapter in Illinois;
hosting exhibits at local and regional fairs; and speaking knowledgeably
to Illinois legislators about the benefits of trapping to wildlife
Schirmer also is a certified animal control operator, licensed
to trap nuisance wildlife such as raccoons and beavers for Illinois
residents who experience damage to homes and property. He uses these
opportunities to spread messages about the benefits and methods
“Trapping will be my life until I can’t do it anymore. I’m almost
72, so I have 28 more good years left,” says a cheerful Schirmer,
who has run a trapline since he was seven. “For me, a big part of
trapping is teaching people. I plan on doing that as long as I can.”
Schirmer shows a side of trappers that people don’t normally consider
-- as dedicated conservationists who care about wildlife and use
the latest technology and methods.
“Society has evolved a lot over the years,” Schirmer says. “And
trapping has evolved along with it. In every class I teach, I encourage
trappers to improve their skills. Another 140 volunteer trapper
education instructors in Illinois do the same thing.”
Schirmer came to trapping naturally. His mother trapped skunks
and weasels and sold pelts during the Great Depression to make ends
meet. She also hunted, and the family ate the game she packed home.
When Schirmer was old enough in 1939, he helped his mother run a
trapline. He has been a devoted trapper ever since.
Schirmer says, “Trapping has always been a big part of who I am.
Even when I lived in Chicago for much of my adulthood, working days
and nights, I still found time to trap.”
Schirmer maintains an active winter trapping schedule in addition
to his education and outreach efforts. He and a friend run an ambitious
trapline with 90 traps that they check every morning during trapping
seasons. They primarily trap raccoons, beavers, muskrats and coyotes.
Very little goes to waste. Schirmer sells pelts and has a license
to sell game meat. Muskrat meat goes to a wildlife rehabilitation
center to feed raptors. He sells beaver meat to dog breeders who
feed the raw, ground game to their charges (“It’s a great remedy
for allergies and low weight in dogs,” Schirmer adds.).
In addition, Schirmer is well known among surrounding communities
whose members consider raccoon meat a delicacy. “Folks come from
Joliet, Chicago, Rockford and as far away as Milwaukee to buy my
raccoons for the dinner table,” Schirmer says. “Some folks will
buy all the raccoons that I have.”
Bob Bluett, wildlife diversity biologist at Illinois Department
of Natural Resources, has worked with Schirmer in conducting trapper
safety and education courses; he has seen his talents first hand.
“Irv has enormous energy and enthusiasm, and people respond warmly
to that,” says Bluett, who nominated Schirmer for the award. “Even
folks who disagree with Irv respect him, because he always acts
in goodwill. He knows that training trappers and working with the
public is a long-term investment in trapping’s future. Illinois
DNR is pleased that Fur Takers of America recognized Irv with the
American Heritage Award.”
You can learn more about Fur Takers of America at www.furtakersofamerica.com.
Visit the Fur Hunting and Trapping in Illinois website
For more information about trapping, visit the Illinois DNR’s new
website, “Fur Hunting and Trapping in Illinois,” at dnr.state.il.us/orc/wildlife,
or contact the Illinois DNR at 217-782-6384.