Trapping remains a major source of controversy in Minnesota and the country at large. The number of trappers, like hunters, continues to decline in Minnesota and elsewhere. To date, there are approximately 5,000 registered trappers in Minnesota, none of whom, according to a former president of the Minnesota Trappers Association, work full-time as trappers. Trapping, for them, is a hobby like golf or bowling.

The primary tool of the trapper is the steeljaw leghold trap. Invented in 1823, this archaic device remains virtually unchanged to this day. Leghold trap manufacturers have attempted to make traps more acceptable by adding thin rubber "padding"" which, in actuality, does little to alleviate the severe pain caused by the trap snapping shut. In order for a trap to be pain-free, it would require so much padding that the animal would be able to easily free itself.  This likely the reason that wolf researchers have trouble catching live wolves; the padding used to avoid injury likely allows the wolf to escape.
Snares are also legal in Minnesota. Essentially wire loops that slowly strangle their victims, snares are used by trappers to catch beavers and other furbearers. The Conibear trap, also known as a body-gripping trap, was invented by Frank Conibear in 1958 as his version of a more humane trap. Comprised of two square steel loops that pivot in the middle, the Conibear trap uses one or two springs, depending on the size of the trap. When the trap is set, the squares sit at right angles to each other and an antenna-like trigger at the top is ready to allow the trap to collapse with great force onto its victim. The animal's body can be severly contorted by the trap, resulting in unimaginable agony until the trapper ends its suffering. Leghold and Conibear traps are available at farm supply stores and rural hardware stores in Minnesota.
Trappers argue that trapping is necessary to control diseases like rabies. But trappers tend to avoid animals like bats and skunks, which are more likely to carry rabies. Instead, they focus on catching those animals whose fur pelts have a high economic value. In 1973 the National Academy of Sciences subcommittee on rabies concluded, "Persistent trapping or poisoning campaigns as a means to control rabies  should be abolished. There is no evidence that these costly and politically attractive programs reduce either wildlife reservoirs or rabies incidence." Researchers have determined that trapping actually increases the spread of rabies by removing older naturally immune animals and by opening up habitat. This encourages larger litters in a disease-stricken area.
Even endangered species are not completely safe from being trapped. In March 1997, a U.S. District judge found that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) had "consistently ignored the analysis of its expert biologists" in 1994 when the biologists listed the Canada lynx under the Endangered Species Act. The biologists determined that "human activity results in the greatest mortality of lynx, principally through trapping" and that "86 percent of lynx mortalities was caused by trapping." The Minnesota DNR publicly threatened to sue the USFWS if the lynx is listed, since this would essentially mean an end to bobcat trapping in Minnesota.