By Toby Walrath
Animal rights activists are gathering signatures in western Montana for ballot Initiative 167, which would make trapping on any public lands in Montana illegal. That includes about 60 percent of public land in western Montana and 35 percent of the total lands in the state.
Animal Rights Activity
The animal rights groups need to gather about 24,000 signatures in 34 qualified house districts to get this statutory initiative on the 2014 ballot box. In 2010, this group tried and failed to gather enough legitimate signatures on the ballot, but it has had three years to raise money and gather support since then.
Montana Trappers Association
The MTA has taken action to fight and win. If we’re not at the table, we will certainly be on the menu. The MTA is just warming up but has already stepped up to the table and done the following:
• Met with public officials to review the ballot wording.
• Launched a website to promote the Ballot Initiative Committee Montanans for Effective Wildlife Management (MEWM) at www.NoOnI-167.org.
• Started to spread the word through social media. You can follow the MTA on Facebook.
• Printed 10,000 MEWM tri-fold pamphlets.
• Met with dozens of organizations to unite on all fronts.
• Gathered major political campaign quotes.
• Developed fundraising campaigns to wage war on the anti-trappers in Montana.
Key Talking Points
Trappers can beat this initiative by uniting sportsmen groups, advocating against this initiative at every possible venue and getting the message out to the general public. And you don’t have to wing it. Here are key points to focus on:
• I-167 is an animal-rights-sponsored initiative that prohibits regulated, licensed trapping as a wildlife management tool on all public lands in Montana.
• I-167 would remove a much needed method to control wolves and other problem animals in Montana.
• Forty three percent of wolves harvested in 2012-2013 were caught by trappers. More than half of the wolves trapped in 2012-2013 were caught on public lands.
• I-167 would reduce income for many Montanans and increase costs for government agencies. The resulting increase of predators would reduce big-game animals, waterfowl and upland bird populations.
• I-167 would reduce efficiency and increase costs for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks to trap and transplant game animals or conflict/problem animals for wildlife management purposes.
• I-167 would be in violation of MCA 87-6-603, which is Montana’s law against wasting of fur.
• The professional biologists at Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks do an excellent job of regulating and overseeing Montana’s trapping activities.
• Trappers are committed to being responsible stewards of Montana’s natural resources and strongly support the usage of the most effective humane methods and technologies available.
• Montana Trappers are committed to the ethical and responsible pursuit of their profession, including support for expanded trapper education and training.
Visit us at www.NoOnI-167 and on Facebook to learn more about the dozens of outdoor groups in Montana and across the United States that are going to stand strong with trappers and help knock the snot out of these cancerous proponents of wildlife degradation.
Toby Walrath is the president of the Montana Trappers Association.