Meet Our Instructors
Your instructors have been selected from some of the premier trappers in Maryland and the Mid-Atlantic Region. In addition, Maryland DNR, Wildlife and Heritage Service personnel will also be present to conduct lectures and provide technical expertise.
Robert Colona, a distinguished figure in the realm of wildlife management and trapping, stands as a beacon of expertise and dedication in preserving the ecological balance of Chesapeake Bay. Born with a passion for the intricate dynamics of fur-bearing creatures, his journey spans over 50 years, earning him the prestigious 2018 National Trappers Association Hall of Fame award.
At the heart of his impactful contributions lies the Chesapeake Bay Nutria Eradication Project, a testament to his leadership within the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This highly successful initiative aimed to shield Chesapeake coastal areas and wetlands from the invasive nutria, showcasing Colona’s commitment to conservation and habitat protection.
Colona’s influence extends beyond the borders of Chesapeake Bay, as he spearheaded predator control efforts on piping plover nesting beaches in both New Jersey and Delaware. His endeavors also reached the bog turtle wetlands in Maryland and Pennsylvania, showcasing a comprehensive approach to wildlife preservation.
In the realm of education, Colona has served as a master instructor for the Maryland Fur Trappers advanced trapping course and Fur Takers College in Indiana. His commitment to passing on the legacy of ethical trapping techniques underscores his dedication to shaping future generations of trappers.
One of Colona’s remarkable contributions lies in his role as a critical reviewer and contributor to the scientific paper titled “Trapping in Fur-Bear Management Within North American Wildlife Conservation”. His insights and expertise have left an indelible mark on the understanding and application of trapping techniques in the realm of wildlife management.
His engagement with complex issues, ranging from furbearer ecology and management to exotic, invasive species, and nuisance wildlife, showcases a diverse skill set. Colona’s technical guidance has been sought after by federal, state, and private partners alike, further solidifying his standing as a trusted authority in the field.
Colona’s impact transcends the physical realm of wildlife management. His innovative use of technology, particularly dynamic PowerPoint presentations utilizing satellite imagery, sets him apart as a forward-thinker in the trapping community. These presentations, widely acclaimed as some of the best in the United States, exemplify his adaptability and commitment to staying ahead in the ever-evolving trapping landscape.
Furthermore, his involvement in planning, conducting, and overseeing large-scale habitat protection and restoration projects speaks to his holistic approach to wildlife conservation. Colona’s vision extends beyond the trapping techniques themselves; he envisions a balanced and thriving ecosystem where human intervention safeguards the delicate equilibrium of nature.
Robert’s biography is a narrative of a man who has dedicated his life to the intricate dance between humans and wildlife. From the Chesapeake Bay Nutria Eradication Project to his role as an educator and innovator in trapping technology, Colona’s impact has been felt far and wide. The 2018 National Trappers Association Hall of Fame award is a fitting accolade for a man whose unselfish dedication has helped protect and preserve the heritage of trapping while shaping the future of wildlife management.
Dan Baker, the esteemed President of the Maryland Fur Trappers, stands as a venerable figure with a rich legacy in the realm of trapping. With over four decades of hands-on experience, Baker has become a living encyclopedia of trapping knowledge. His journey began in the rural landscapes of Maryland, where a fascination with wildlife and a deep respect for the art of trapping led him to embark on a lifelong commitment to the craft.
As a senior instructor at the advanced trapper course, Baker plays a pivotal role in shaping the next generation of trappers. His classes are not mere lessons; they are immersive experiences that draw on his vast reservoir of practical wisdom. Students under his tutelage not only learn the intricate techniques of trapping but also gain a profound understanding of the ethical considerations that underscore responsible trapping practices.
Beyond his role in education, Baker, is the proud owner of a wildlife damage control business. This venture underscores his commitment to striking a delicate balance between human interests and wildlife preservation. Through his business, Baker, employs strategic and humane methods to mitigate conflicts between humans and wildlife, showcasing a holistic approach that prioritizes coexistence.
Baker’s presidency at the Maryland Fur Trappers is a testament to his leadership qualities and unwavering dedication to the community. Under his guidance, the organization has flourished, advocating for responsible trapping, conservation efforts, and fostering a sense of camaraderie among trappers. His influence extends beyond Maryland, as he actively engages in regional and national conversations on wildlife management and trapping regulations.
In the tapestry of Maryland’s trapping history, Dan Baker emerges as a prominent thread, weaving together experience, education, and a profound commitment to wildlife stewardship. His journey is not just a personal narrative but a testament to the enduring legacy of responsible trapping in harmony with nature.
MFTI Vice President
Brian Elder stands as the embodiment of expertise in the field of trapping and wildlife management, serving as the senior instructor at the advanced trapping course offered by Maryland Fur Trappers. With an impressive 40-year journey in the realm of trapping, Brian has not only witnessed the evolution of techniques but has actively contributed to shaping the industry.
Living in the picturesque landscapes of western Maryland, Brian developed an early fascination with the intricate dance between humans and wildlife. His journey began in the late ’70s when he ventured into the world of trapping, fueled by a passion for understanding and conserving the delicate balance of nature.
Over the decades, Brian honed his skills through hands-on experience, evolving with the changing landscape of trapping ethics and regulations. His commitment to responsible trapping practices earned him recognition, leading to his pivotal role as the senior instructor at Maryland Fur Trappers’ advanced trapping course. Here, he imparts not only the technical nuances of trapping but instills a profound respect for wildlife and the environment.
A crowning achievement in Brian’s storied career lies in his mastery of the art of canine calling, particularly for foxes and coyotes. His prowess in mimicking the calls of these elusive predators has garnered him awards and distinctions, establishing him as an award-winning master canine caller. Brian’s ability to communicate with these animals transcends technical skill; it reflects an intimate comprehension of their behavior and communication nuances.
Adding another layer to his multifaceted expertise, Brian not only practices but imparts his knowledge as he teaches an advanced course in calling canines within the Maryland Fur Trappers advanced trapping program. His classes delve into the nuances of canine communication, providing aspiring trappers with insights that extend beyond the basics. Brian’s dedication to advancing the skill set of fellow trappers is a testament to his commitment to the continual improvement of the trapping community.
Beyond the educational realm, Brian’s influence extends to the practical domain through his ownership of a highly successful wildlife damage control business in western Maryland. His business stands as a testament to his ability to blend traditional trapping knowledge with modern, humane wildlife management practices. Brian’s approach goes beyond merely controlling damage; it seeks a harmonious coexistence between human activities and the diverse fauna that inhabit the region.
In the community, Brian is revered not just for his trapping prowess but for his commitment to conservation and education. His seminars and workshops draw enthusiasts and professionals alike, eager to benefit from the wealth of knowledge he has accumulated over the years. As a senior trapping instructor and a dedicated entrepreneur, Brian Elder continues to leave an indelible mark on the world of trapping, inspiring the next generation to embrace both the challenges and responsibilities inherent in the delicate dance between man and nature.
Denton Leggett, a seasoned trapper with an impressive 25 years of experience, is a dedicated practitioner following in the illustrious footsteps of his grandfather, Pete Leggett. Born into a family deeply rooted in the tradition of trapping, Denton’s passion for this age-old craft began under the mentorship of his grandfather at an early age.
Over the years, Denton has honed his skills to perfection, acquiring a profound understanding of trapping various furbearers. His comprehensive knowledge extends beyond merely setting traps; Denton possesses a unique knack for reading the land and identifying prime locations for a successful catch. This intuitive ability to navigate the field has become a hallmark of his trapping expertise.
Denton’s commitment to sharing his wealth of knowledge led him to become an esteemed instructor at the advanced trapping course for the Maryland Fur Trappers. Through his guidance, aspiring trappers gain insights into the nuanced art of trapping and learn the finer points of ethical and sustainable practices.
Beyond the realm of education, Denton has translated his passion into a thriving wildlife damage control business based in Pennsylvania. As the owner, he employs his expertise to mitigate conflicts between humans and wildlife, offering humane and effective solutions that reflect his respect for the natural world.
Known for his hands-on approach and dedication to conservation, Denton Leggett stands as a respected figure in the trapping community. His legacy not only preserves the time-honored traditions passed down through generations but also champions a responsible and ethical approach to wildlife management in the modern era.
Dennis Barclay, hailing from the rugged terrain of Western Maryland, emerges as a distinguished figure in the realm of trapping and wildlife management. Barclay’s fascination with the outdoors and the region’s diverse wildlife became the cornerstone of a lifelong journey.
With over 30 years of expertise in trapping Maryland furbearers, Barclay’s roots in the practice run deep. His understanding of the habits and habitats of these creatures has been honed through years of observation and hands-on experience. Raised in an environment where respect for nature was ingrained, Barclay’s passion for responsible trapping practices has defined his career.
For the past 15 years, Barclay has taken on the role of a senior trapping instructor at the Maryland Fur Trappers Advanced Trapping School, guiding aspiring trappers through the intricacies of the craft. His advanced trapping courses have become synonymous with comprehensive education, blending traditional techniques with modern ethical considerations. Under his mentorship, students not only develop practical skills but also cultivate a deep respect for the delicate balance between man and nature.
Beyond the classroom, Barclay’s impact is felt in the field of nuisance animal removal. With over 24 years of hands-on experience, he has emerged as a go-to professional for mitigating human-wildlife conflicts. Whether it’s a raccoon in a suburban attic or a groundhog causing havoc in a rural garden, Barclay’s humane and effective approach has earned him a reputation as a trusted problem solver.
Barclay’s connection to Western Maryland extends beyond trapping and removal work. He is a staunch advocate for conservation and habitat preservation in the region. His involvement in local environmental initiatives primarily focusing around beavers underscores his commitment to maintaining the delicate balance that sustains the diverse flora and fauna of his home region.
The backdrop of Western Maryland, with its rolling hills and dense forests, serves as both inspiration and classroom for Barclay’s teachings. His students not only learn about the practical aspects of trapping but also gain an appreciation for the ecosystems they are part of. It is this holistic approach that sets Barclay apart as an educator.
In the tapestry of his career, Dennis Barclay has woven threads of expertise, passion, and stewardship. He stands as a testament to the symbiotic relationship that can exist between humans and wildlife when guided by knowledge and respect. As he continues to impart his wisdom to future generations of trappers, Barclay remains a living embodiment of the intricate dance between man and the untamed beauty of Western Maryland.
Dan Dawson, a true son of the Eastern Shore, was born and raised amid the serene landscapes of Dorchester County, Maryland. From the tender age of five, his journey into the world of trapping began, guided by the knowledgeable hands of his father. Little did they know that this early introduction would ignite a lifelong passion for wildlife and conservation.
As a young boy, Dan’s days were spent alongside his father, learning the intricacies of trapping. The fields and waterways of his hometown became his classroom, and the lessons of respecting nature and understanding its delicate balance became ingrained in his character. It was during these formative years that Dan discovered a profound connection to the land and its inhabitants, setting the stage for a remarkable journey ahead.
Dan’s commitment to wildlife conservation led him to prestigious positions with the US Fish and Wildlife and the USDA Wildlife Services. It was during his time as a protégé of Robert Colona that he took on the formidable task of removing nutria from Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay estuaries. Under Colona’s guidance, Dan honed his skills and developed a keen understanding of the complexities involved in preserving delicate ecosystems.
His career as a professional wildlife manager spans decades, marked by a diverse array of critical projects. From protecting piping plovers, an endangered species reliant on coastal habitats, to responding to environmental crises like oil spills, Dan Dawson has been at the forefront of safeguarding the welfare of wildlife. His role in monitoring animal diseases and mitigating conflicts between animals and humans showcases the breadth of his expertise.
The list of Dan’s accomplishments reads like a roadmap of a dedicated conservationist. Yet, despite the accolades, he remains grounded in his mission. As a senior instructor for the Maryland Fur Trappers Advance Trapping School, Dan is committed to passing on his wealth of knowledge to the next generation. His teaching goes beyond the technicalities of trapping; it encompasses the ethos of ethical wildlife management, emphasizing the importance of coexistence between humans and the natural world.
Dan Dawson’s story is one of passion, resilience, and a deep-rooted connection to the land. In a world where the delicate balance of ecosystems is increasingly fragile, he stands as a beacon of inspiration. As he continues to impart his wisdom to aspiring trappers and conservationists, Dan Dawson leaves an indelible mark on the Eastern Shore and beyond, reminding us all of the importance of preserving the wild spaces that enrich our lives.
We extend our deepest gratitude to the exceptional expert trappers who generously volunteer and lend their expertise to support instructors at the Maryland Advanced Trapper School. This heartfelt appreciation goes to the dedicated individuals who play an indispensable role in our educational mission.
The Maryland Advanced Trapper School thrives because of the invaluable contributions of these volunteers. Their passion for the craft and commitment to sharing their knowledge elevate the learning experience for our students. Without their unwavering dedication, our school simply could not operate.
They are the backbone of our community, enriching the curriculum with their practical wisdom and fostering a culture of responsible trapping practices. Their impact extends beyond the classroom, shaping the next generation of trappers and instilling a deep appreciation for ethical and sustainable trapping.
To our esteemed volunteers, your involvement is integral to the success of the Maryland Advanced Trapper School. Thank you for being the driving force behind our commitment to excellence in trapping education.
Dan Baker – President
Maryland Fur Trappers – Maryland Advanced Trapper School