Montana Trappers Association August 2013 Report

President — Tom Barnes, 4294 Hwy 91 N, Dillon MT 59725; 406-683-2791; cell: 406-660-2792;

Vice President East — John Hughes 3065 Winnet Hwy, Roundup, MT 59072; 406-429-2002;

Vice President West — Tater McKay, 3800 Old Stage Road, Dillon MT 59725; 406-683-4824; cell: 406-660-1094;

Executive Secretary — Jim Buell, P.O. Box 133, Gildford, MT 59525; 406-376-3178;

Membership Secretary — Valerie Esche, 17 Allison Dr., Absarokee, MT 59001; 406-328-7264;

Treasurer— Terry Sheppard, P.O. Box 129, Ovando, MT 59854; 406-793-5885; office: 406-793-5718;

NTA Director — Jim Buell, P.O. Box 133, Gildford, MT 59525; 406-376-3178;

Membership Options:

• Family membership with Trapper & Predator Caller — $40

• Family membership without Trapper & Predator Caller — $30

• Adult membership with Trapper & Predator Caller — $30

• Adult membership without Trapper & Predator Caller — $20

• Youth membership with Trapper & Predator Caller — $20

• Lifetime membership with Trapper & Predator Caller — $350

• Lifetime membership without Trapper & Predator Caller — $250

• Senior lifetime membership with Trapper & Predator Caller — $200

• Senior lifetime membership without Trapper & Predator Caller — $100


Complete membership application on first page of association section and send dues to:

MTA Membership Secreatary

Valerie Esche

17 Allison Dr.

Absarokee, MT 59001



Hello to All;

Here we go again! You may have heard that “Footloose Montana” recently sent their draft ballot initiative to the state. The process will be as it was last go around. If the state, (which I’m sure they will), approves the initiative wording, they will be required to collect the needed number of signatures in a required number of legislative districts. Since they filed there has been several reporters asking for comment from the MTA. Toby Walrath has been handling these interviews. When they get the approval, then we will start developing a game plan.

Also the state FWP and the US Wildlife Service has been sued by 3 organiza-tions to halt trapping on public land that they claim to be Lynx habitat mostly in District 1 & 2. With the help of the NTA legal counsel the MTA will become an intervener in the court case. What this means is that we will be able to have a say and argue the case. So that the FWP doesn’t just settle with more regulations etc. we are taking a seat at the table in an effort to retain trapping in the named areas. This could be a long process, we’ll see.

Just before the last Board meeting I received a letter from the new FWP director stating that after June 30, 2013 they will not enter into another Trapper Education contract with the MTA. It was decided by the Board that we will keep doing what we have been doing for all these years, “Educating Trappers”. It is felt that the MTFWP needs us more than we need them. All these years, Fran Buell has been doing a great job keeping track of all the numbers. Terry Sheppard took over the education liaison position awhile back and the FWP doesn’t want to work with her, because she asked pointed questions and wasn’t getting answers. At the May Board meeting the position of MTA/MTFWP liaison was resurrected and Paul Fielder accepted the position, Paul will deal with issues that come up between the MTA and the FWP, except for the education program. If we don’t have a contract with the FWP dealing with education, we don’t need a liaison there. Fran and Terry will still handle the paper work dealing with education, keeping track of who and how many the MTA educates. I would say that Terry can still ask questions if she needs to because of her position as Treasurer. Except for the education program the MTA seems to have a pretty good relationship with the MTFWP in most districts. The biologists and in most areas the district FWP folks work with trappers and seem to listen when we have something to say. We need to keep these relationships strong, they are the ones that recommend changes to the MTFWP Commission.

Montana Lynx Litigation — Three Plaintiffs, Friends of the Wild Swan, Wild Earth Guardians, and The Alliance for the Wild Rockies have sued (in Missoula) in Federal District Court for Montana, the Chairman and Commissioners of the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission and the Director of the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks. The Lawsuit is based on the alleged incidental trapping of nine Canada Lynx in Montana by trappers. The theory of the case is that because the Commissioners and the Director allow for trapping, the Commissioners and Director are in violation of the Federal Endangered Species Act when trappers allegedly incidentally (accidentally) trap Lynx. The Plaintiffs are seeking to severely limit, or outright ban all trapping and snaring in Montana where lynx inhabit.

This year’s fur sale was again a big one. As usual there were a few things that needed to be addressed, but all in all it went well. As usual there were some trappers that were not pleased with what was offered but that will always happen. There will be some changes made for next year. The big one is that I will not be chairman any longer. Brian Stoner has accepted the challenge. I’ll be an Indian, but I’m done being a chief!

I attended the Western Regional Convention last weekend in Blackfoot, Idaho. It was a very nice weekend with no rain. Seemed to me that the numbers were down, but I don’t know that for sure. Got to visit with a lot of folks that I haven’t seen in quite a while, was good to renew old friendships. This was the same weekend as YTC, I heard it was a great weekend up there as well and everyone had a great time. I’m sure the kids learned a lot, because of the top notch instructors that attend every year.

Speaking of rain, the area around Dillon is looking a lot better then it was a few weeks ago but we have a long way to go. We are still pretty dry. Unlike a lot of area’s around the state, I have had an opportunity to talk to some of you from around the state and I can’t imagine what you are dealing with. I can’t even imagine 8 or 10 inches of rain, in a few days or a few hours. Hard to believe!

This will be my last report as President. My term will be up in September. Toby Walrath has agreed to run for the position of President and we have a candidate who has accepted the nomination for Vice President West. Toby and the new VP will do a great job and along with the rest of the Board, I know I leave the MTA in good hands. For the past five years I have tried to do the job required. I have always tried to focus on what has been best for the trapping industry and the MTA. I feel very fortunate that I have had a good board to work with. We haven’t always done the right thing in the eyes of some of you, but I guarantee we have tried. I hope that in the future there will be more members stepping up and taking more of a role in running the MTA. Valerie Esche has turned in her letter of resignation as membership secretary effective July 1st. If you know of any-one or have an urge to step up please do. This is a very important position to be filled!

The annual Rendezvous is just around the corner, please plan to attend. It’s always a learning weekend and a good chance to pick up what you need for the coming season. Guy Kempthorne will be setting up the demo’s. He did a bang up job at the Heritage Celebration so I know he’ll have some great demo’s at Lewistown. I’m finally going to make it to Alaska this year, so I’ll be missing the action again this year. Have fun!

No doubt I’m forgetting something important, but that’s about it for now. Hope everyone has a great summer. Keep in touch. I don’t plan to go away, but it’s time to step aside and let new blood take over. — Tom 


Hello Montana Trappers;

Hopefully everyone has received some much needed moisture. It’s funny how the wet stuff seems to brighten ones mood. This summer will pass by way too quickly again, I hope to be able to do some scouting and get ready for fall hunting and trapping.

The MTA has had a very busy spring. The Heritage Celebration in Lolo was a great success. Lots of trappers showed up to support Toby and crew. Quite a few non trappers walked in the door to learn more about our sport. I believe they were pleasantly surprised to learn that trapping isn’t the evil sport it is portrayed to be by the media. Thank You to all of you that made this event such a huge success.

The annual Youth Trapper Camp was held South of Havre. It always amazes me that so much trapping education can be crowded into one weekend. The kids and adults had a great weekend. The number of first time students this year was huge. These new faces are the future of our sport, and to see that fire and desire to learn about trapping is truly awesome. If you haven’t had the chance to make it to trapper camp then you need to put it on your calendar for next year.

The animal rights activists have submitted wording and are attempting to organize another ballot initiative to ban trapping on public lands. Be aware of this and don’t miss an opportunity to inform the public of this stupid attempt to take away our PUBLIC lands. We will defeat this again; I believe the general public is more than tired of the same old whining and crying from the animal rights crowd all the time.

I hope you all plan on attending the Rendezvous in Lewistown this fall. You can hunt elk on your way to Lewistown, get some trapping equipment and support your organization and then hunt elk on your way home. Sounds like a great way to spend a week in this great state of ours.

Have a great summer and I will talk to you all soon. Remember to take a kid trapping and get your buddies to join the best organization in Montana.

Take Care. — Tater 



MTA will conduct a trapper education class Saturday August 17th. The class will begin at 9am at Snappy’s Sports Center, 1400 Hwy 35, Kalispell, MT. This will be a voluntary, general trapping education class designed to teach you how to trap ethically, legally, and effectively. It is not a wolf trapping certification class!

For people that want to become Trapper Education Instructors we will conduct a certification class in Kalispell on the evening of Friday August 16th ((location and time to be determined). For class info contact Paul Fielder at 406-210-5943.

The Montana Trapper Heritage Celebration that was held in Lo-lo, MT (south of Missoula) May 18 & 19 was a pretty good success. There were some real good trapping “how to” demonstrations, lots of vendors with trapping equipment and other items for sale, trap setting contests for kids, raffle and prize drawings, and even rodeo queens. Toby Walrath and his crew of volunteers put on a fine celebration. Thanks Toby.

An animal rights group in Missoula has submitted another anti-trapping ballot initiative to the Montana Political Practices Commission for the 2014 fall ballot. They did this a few years ago but failed to gather enough signatures to qualify for the ballot. They got close though. I was part of the MTA group that put together a coalition of trappers, sportsmen, agricultural interests, and county commissioners which worked to oppose that initiative and keep it off the ballot, and I’ll be part of that fight again. But, we should all be in this fight together to keep our trapping privileges on OUR public lands. We have a large percentage of public lands in NW Montana.

This is a MTA election year for several positions. President Tom Barnes has worked long and hard as President and is now stepping back. Nominations are being filled for MTA President and VP-West. We will need to actively support whoever fills these positions. With the anti-trapping ballot initiative, the probable wolverine listing as a Threatened Species, and the Lynx trapping lawsuit against MFW&P (that your MTA is also part of on the side of MFW&P), there are just too many threats to our trapping heritage to not be involved, whether we want to or not! Trapping is your activity too. There’s lots of room for you to help our MTA protect YOUR trapping. There will always be people that make things happen, people that watch things hap-pen, and people that wonder what happened? Our trapping future will depend on what each of us individuals do in the 16 months ahead. The Montana Trappers Association is a team effort! — Paul C Fielder, District 1 Director 



Hello from District 2!

Trapping season is over and the time is getting close to start making wax dirt and getting that fur shed organized. I hope your season was a success.

The big news in District 2 is that the Trapper Heritage Celebration was a huge success! We had first rate demonstrations by our top trappers and excellent vendors. If you missed it you missed out big time. The raffle items and door prizes were in-credible and we gave away dozens of great door prizes. The children’s trap setting contest alone was worth the $2 admission! It was great to have the Miss Rodeo Montana ladies there and they helped raise money by selling tickets and calling out winners. The final tally is not complete at the time of this writing but we certainly didn’t lose money on the event and we made a statement; Trappers are here and we are here to stay!

I have had many people call, write and visit in person and tell me that they had a great time. I am very happy that the people who showed up and participated learned a lot and had the chance to buy supplies and enjoy the activities. A special thank you (in no particular order) goes out to John Wilson, Guy Kempthorne, Bob Sheppard, Bruce Hover, Tater Mackay, John Hughes, Tom Barnes, Bert Wuster, David Dean, Ed Hebbe III, Harry Marvin, and man I hope I am not forgetting anyone – with-out these individuals we never would have pulled this event together. There is so much that goes on behind the scenes to make an event like this go smoothly. It is great to see hard working and dedicated trappers step up when called, it makes me proud to say I am a trapper.

Bob Sheppard and I also held a booth for the Youth Conservation day held at Teller Refuge on May 4th at the slack barn where we had about 300 youngsters come through and handle furs, make ink animal tracks on paper and learn about the out-doors. About 30 outdoor organizations set up a booth and had activities for the kids to do. It was great to see our next generation shooting paintball and bb guns, flinging arrows and handling furs! This will be an annual event and if you are interested in events like this please contact me, I can set you up with this or other events. Bert Wustner will be attending the green wings event on June 8th where he will teach our young duck hunters about the value of trapping. Bob Sheppard just did a trapping demo at an event in Seeley lake and there is always the annual Youth Trapper Camp in June – There are so many ways to pro-mote our great trapping heritage – Let me know if you want to get involved and I assure you there is some way you can help – and the MTA appreciates it! In fact our future counts on it! (and it’s kind of fun) GET INVOLVED BECAUSE TRAPPERS ROCK !!! — Toby 



Greetings from Dillon;

I hope your spring and early summer have been good to you. We went camping this last weekend and the high country looks good. Lots of elk with calves to look at. The fishing was pretty darn good, the kids showed me how it was done once again.

The trapping issues and wolf issues are back in full force again. Something is in the papers every day. Hopefully the people of Montana can see what the anti and non-consumptive use crowd is all about. If the MTA can help you with a letter in your local paper please let us know and we will help you out.

The Western NTA convention was just south of us hopefully you got to attend and buy some gear and take in a demo. It sounded like the turnout was ok.

Our summer will be over before you know it, so get out and do some scouting and get your gear ready now. If you get to Dillon please look me up, I enjoy getting to visit with fellow trappers. Please get involved in your trapping organization we could use your help. — Tater 



Hope this report finds everyone having a great summer. It has been a nice spring here in South Central Montana. We like hav-ing green grass and no fires as of yet. As you all know we have an important election this year. First I would like to thank Tom Barnes for all he has done as president. From making the fur sale as great as it is, to all the work he has done with the legislature and FWP to keep all are trapping rights. Tom leaves be-hind hard shoes to fill.

I would like to show my support for Toby Walrath to be our next president. Toby has been working very hard to insure we will all have the right to trap in Montana. Toby has worked with various groups in protecting trapping in Western Montana. He has worked with MTFWP on sensitive sites to help control conflicts and keep our ability to trap in these areas. He has stood up to the anti’s in various venues and is very articulate. I hope you will give your support to Toby as well.

It sounds like there are going to be lots of trappers out again this year. Hope you are having a good summer and are getting things ready as fall will be here before we know it. Hope to see everybody in Lewistown in September. — Jay Federer, District 5

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