Montana Trappers Association November 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;

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

Membership Options:

• Family membership with T&PC — $40

• Family membership without T&PC — $30

• Adult membership with T&PC — $30

• Adult membership without T&PC — $20

• Youth membership with T&PC — $20

• Lifetime membership with T&PC — $350

• Lifetime membership without T&PC — $250

• Senior lifetime membership with T&PC — $200

• Senior lifetime membership without T&PC — $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;

Fall is in the air and a new trapping season will be here before we know it. The beaver are preparing their food cache and have built dams secure enough for winter ice and snow. Muskrats have their tunnels dug and houses piled high and thick to keep the predators out. With the shortening of days winter coats are beginning to thicken on coyotes while bears eagerly eat to fatten up in preparation for a harsh winter to come.

We can learn a lot from these critters who prepare to take on an impending harsh climate. They know it’s coming and can’t do anything about it, but they don’t sit idle and wait to see how bad it gets before they start preparing. Montana Trappers are about to face our toughest challenge not in the harsh winter that is determined to return, instead Animal Rights Activists are gearing up to take away our rights to enjoy trapping on public lands. We need your help.

I would like to thank Mr. Barnes for serving the MTA so well for so long. He decided to step down from his position as President of the MTA but has vowed to stay involved and I am certain he will continue to serve as a leader and will represent trappers in a positive manner.

As the new President I had the privilege to chair our September Board meeting at the Rendezvous in September. We have a terrific panel of hard working trappers representing our organization and I am looking forward to watching the vision of the MTA come to fruition with this team. With this new team are new faces; Harold Johnson is replacing Kirk Knudsen as district 6 Director, Karen Chapman has replaced Valerie Esche in the position of Membership Secretary and Jason Maxwell has stepped in as Vice President West. I thank the previous members for their dedication to trappers and trapping and want to welcome our new members aboard!



The Montana animal rights group based out of Missoula has once again gained approval to begin gathering signatures in an effort to ban our rights to trap on public lands. The initiative number is I-167.

We are also involved in a lawsuit against the MTFWP, in which the MTA is acting as an intervener, this lawsuit threatens to ban trapping in lynx habitat. A similar group has petitioned the FWS to list the Northern Rockies Fisher as a threatened or endangered species. Meanwhile, Oregon is facing its third attempt to ban trapping by the animal rightists through another ballot initiative. That campaign is well funded by the largest animal rights groups in the country.

We are going into a fight; there is no question about it. The MTA has begun preparing for this fight. We can win, but it is going to cost money and it’s going to take time. We must be prepared for what will come.



As trappers we need to be vigilant and knowledgeable in the issues facing our rights to trap. We also need to be visible. We need to unify our efforts with other outdoors-focused organizations and get our message out now. I have challenged each Director with a task. That task is to attend at least one sportsman’s organization meeting between now and December to discuss the I-167 ballot proposal.

Our talking points will be taken from the Montanans for Effective Wildlife Management (MEWM) information created in 2010 while preparing to defend our rights against the cancerous ballot initiative I-160. With modification to make that message current, we will gain support. There is strength in numbers and Montana has a lot of sportsmen counting on trappers to keep predator numbers down.

Each Director will attend the organizational meeting of a fellow sporting group and ask that they support trappers in our efforts to fight.

Each Director has been asked to report which sportsmen’s meetings they attended and whether we have their support at our December Board meeting.

We must unify all sportsmen in Montana. We are all in this together. The ballot box Initiative is not about trapping, it’s about animal rights. I look forward to hearing about all the groups the MTA Directors have reached out to.

We have to build leak proof defenses, solidly like the beaver’s dam and then we have to fatten our reserves to protect us against the harsh reality that we inevitably face like bears. A few muskrat tunnels and thicker skin won’t hurt either.

Call me if you want to know how to get more involved. I hope you enjoy the fall season; prices are high and our public lands are filled with quality furs – and without a doubt, trappers’ rock! — Toby



Hello All,

It’s been a long summer with a lot of rain, grass, hay, heavy calves & bumper crops and to top it off it looks like another good fur season with good demand for fur.

Trapping is under attack on several fronts. The lynx lawsuit, which spawned the relaxing snare lock in lynx areas, closing of BLM land to trapping in Region 5 and the ballot initiative to do away with trapping on public lands. Once again, we have to stand together & fight for our right to trap.

We have a new President, VP West & Membership Secretary; all good people here to help you. The Board of Directors of the MTA is going to need you’re help on these anti trapping issues so step up to the plate and participate.

All is not bad for trapping, we have our second wolf trapping season coming upon us; the first was a enormous success with over 100 wolves trapped, which doubled the harvest when combined with the hunting season.

The annual convention in Lewistown was quite a little larger; driven by higher fur prices and the anti trapping issues.

Don’t forget to check the new regulations on bobcat snaring in lynx habitat. Have a great season. — John Hughes



The trappers rendezvous was a great way to kick off my start as the new Vice President West. Not only was it educational, but the handful of people I met throughout the weekend just shows what an extraordinary group of individuals we have in our support system. For those of you who were not able to attend or our paths did not cross let me introduce myself. My name is Jason Maxwell, born and raised in Darby, MT and now residing in Missoula. I spent 6 years In the Marines which took me to Iraq twice as an infantry Sergeant. Now that I am back, I am going to continue the fight here at home to keep our public lands open to all. On September 16th our Facebook account went public. There was an overwhelming rush of support gaining 250 followers in less than 24 hours. It has been a fast and effective way to keep our members and public informed on upcoming events and issues we face within the MTA. If you have a Facebook account please like the page and share with your friends. I look forward to meeting more of you at the upcoming events and representing you as the new VP West. — Jason Maxwell



Since the spring 2013 Board meeting we have had an MTA Trapper Education Certification class. The class was held in Kalispell in August. We now have 6 certified MTA instructors that I know of in Region 1. The following day we conducted an MTA Trapper Education Class, also in Kalispell. Although only 11 students attended the class (including 3 women and 2 youngsters) they thanked us for a good class in which they learned much. The new MTA Trapper Education Manual is a great teaching guide to reference often while instructing the class.

The bobcat quota was increased from 250 to 275 (10%) for Region 1. That was a direct result of discussion at our Region 1 trapper’s spring meeting and follow-up testimony at MFW&P Commission meetings. An increase in the Region 1 otter quota will be considered at our 2014 spring meeting.

At the spring MTA Board meeting, President Tom Barnes assigned me (Paul Fielder) the position of MTA Liaison with MTFW&P. I consider those duties the same as my duties as District 1 Director because I’m still represent trappers the best that I can. This title just gives a more sway with MFW&P.

As part of that duty, I attended the July MFW&P Commission meeting to testify on wolf harvest quotas, trap set-back regulations, and other trapping issues. I’ve gotten to know the new MFW&P Commissioner, Gary Wolfe of Missoula (finally a Commissioner from the west side of the Divide) and feel he will be responsive to trapper’s issues. I’ve met with MFW&P biologists and enforcement personnel in Kalispell and Helena to discuss how the expanded trapping and snaring special regulations to protect lynx will be interpreted (e.g., what is and isn’t a “non-relaxing (lethal) snare” and does a deer stop in the snare make it a “relaxing (non-lethal)” snare? What snare locks will MFW&P Enforcement interpret as relaxing and non-relaxing? Trappers have a lot of equipment that may need to be modified before the season starts in order to remain legal.

An Animal Rights Group (never give them any other name recognition) has filed another petition to ban ALL trapping on public lands in Montana. I worked closely with Toby Walrath (and comments from other Board members) for many hours in crafting language for the proposed public lands trap-ban ballot initiative so it will not be totally 1-sided against us. I went to Helena and met with 4 top level Wildlife Division administrators, the Assistant Attorney General responsible for the text of the initiative, and the fiscal note writer for the initiative in the Office of Budget and Financial Planning. I was able to discuss the ballot initiative with them, how I felt it would affect Montana, how we could best influence the ballot initiative, hand delivered MTA comments to the initiative along with supporting documents, and followed that up by sending e-mails to the AG and OB&FP offices with electronic copies of what I hand delivered (to ensure a paper trail). Then, after they extended the deadline so comments could be made on the revised fiscal note, Toby and I re-wrote and revised our comments and submitted them again. This issue has taken up many hours already, and it is just the beginning – FOR ALL OF US IF WE WANT TO KEEP TRAPPING, because they’ll work harder to keep us from trapping.

I’ll continue to work on the expanded snare regulation interpretation by MFW&P and trap-ban initiative. MFW&P invited Toby Walrath and I to be part of a “Trapping Working Group”, with a first meeting scheduled for October 1st. We’ll see how that goes. I (and Toby) are on our Region’s MFW&P Citizen Advisory Councils. We’re building a better relationship with MFW&P and the new western region Commissioner. We have some good legislative support behind us that is opening doors for us and getting us seats at the tables when we request them. As the saying goes, “If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.” We’re at the table! — Paul C Fielder – MTA District 1 Director & MTA Liaison with MFW&P



Hello from Southwest Montana.

It finally turned fall here in Dillon, snow in the mountains and picking up some much needed moisture. If you haven’t got your to do list done then you better hurry, trapping season is approaching fast. I am planning on putting the hurt on the local beaver and rat population early and then get after the coyotes. We will see how my plans work out.

The Rendezvous in Lewistown was a good one. The attendance was up, lots of vendors, the demos were well attended and the banquet/auction was top notch. If you missed it then you better start making plans to attend next years. To all of you that did attend, I Thank You for your support of the MTA.

Trapping in Montana is under attack once again. The animal rights groups are out collecting signatures for a ballot initiative. Please keep an eye out for them in your area and let the public know what a bad deal this initiative is.

The MTA will be holding a number of fund raisers this year so please support them as we will need your help in funding our fight to protect trapping in Montana. You can also help by keeping your membership current and by getting those trappers that aren’t members to join.

Good Luck to all of you this trapping season. If you should happen to make it to Dillon please look me up.

Take a kid trapping. Take Care. — Tater 



Well it was a great time in Lewistown. There were more people then I had ever seen, with new memberships signing while I worked the front desk. This is exciting to see the interest in trapping. The demos were interesting and the auction had its fun. Saw an “apple pie” bring top dollar, but my wife says it was worth it and she bought it.

On a more serious note, we need to work together more than ever with the anti’s wanting to take trapping away. They say it would be only on “public ground” but don’t believe them, that will be just a start. Hunting will be next, so talk to all sportsmen and landowners, to get their support. We will be needing to raise money to fight, so I challenge everyone to sell $100 per membership for the MEWM sweepstakes, but also sign up new members and challenge them also.

With that happy trapping and look for the schedule of fur handling clinics that will be this winter. — Scott Blackman



It is time for another trapping season. If the Rendezvous was any indication of the interest in trapping, it is very high this year. The attendance was high – more people than I have seen in years. All the demonstrations had a big crowd and the vendors where busy selling supplies.

We have a couple of big battles ahead of us that we need to fight and win. The first one is initiative I-167. It would ban trapping on ALL PUBLIC land in Montana. This would close nearly 1/3 of the state to trapping. After trapping they will go after the grazing rights and hunting. We Montanan’s will lose our ability to manage our own lands if I-167 is allowed to pass. So we need everyone to help with this battle. The other issue is the lynx lawsuit filed by out of state anti-everything groups. They are using the lynx to try and stop wolf trapping in most of Western and Southwestern Montana. Your board has been working hard on both of these battles and will need your help in educating the general public on how devastating I-167 would be to all Montanan’s and thier wildlife.

Now is the best time of year; so go and enjoy and may all your traps be full. Remember trappers ROCK; be proud of your trapping heritage. — Jay Federer



Waiting for some cooler temperatures; it’s been a warm fall this year. The farmers are loving the weather for the harvest season!

As the new guy on the block, I was impressed with the quality of the leadership we have in MTA. Its nice to see so many people with different backgrounds working together on the issues that affect our trapping heritage.

Our swift fox quota was moved up to 30 this year. The reports I have had from various trappers have shown that the population is expanding into new areas every year. Efforts by Kirk Knudsen (former District 6 Director) to start the season a little earlier to accommodate any incidental catches were put on hold for a year. Our Region 6 bobcat quota is at 90, but appears to be a moot point as we never reached the quota last year or in recent years to my knowledge.

I am working on some skulls for the MTA education committee. Our beetles are doing a great job in cleaning and hopefully I can get them all done by the December meeting.

Any topics of interest, that any trapper in District 6 may have with MTA, please give me a call and I will bring them up at the next meeting. Enjoy the Big Sky. — Harold



Hello All,

Fall is just around the corner and the fur market looks good. Time to get prepared for the upcoming season.

The MTA Rendezvous turnout was better; with a much larger attendance than I can remember in quite some time.

I want to thank Tom Barnes for his years of service as our President and welcome our new President, Toby Walrath.

The battle with the animal rights group is on us again; with the lynx lawsuit and the ballot initiative to ban trapping on public lands. The MTA is working hard to stop these scams and I believe that the MTFWP can’t standby and do nothing once again. So, it’s time to call our Congressmen and Senators to help put a stop to the animal rights groups.

This is our heritage and our right to hunt, fish and trap in our State of Montana. — David Schaff



Well, whether we like it or not, Fall has arrived. It was 28 degrees at my house this morning. Frost on the windshield & everything else uncovered. Not sure if my tomatoes survived or not. Fried green tomatoes anyone? There is a beautiful, blue sky today in Montana.

MTA had a great Rendezvous in Lewistown. The front desk saw over 70 more people than the previous year. Fur prices are up, wolf season continues and there are many more MTA members this year. Sweepstakes ticket sales were up by $2,000 from 2012. Many of the winners were local residents & I did not hear any complaining about the great prizes. The sweepstakes committee intends to get the tickets out early in 2014. District Directors will have tickets available to distribute within their areas. Don’t forget that ticket sales prizes are available. Saturday breakfast & lunch provided by the local 4-H club was awesome. Allan Minear did a great job lining up food vendors and advertising the Rendezvous. The banquet was well attended, along with the best general membership meeting in years. The Board appreciates your participation and questions. A silent cookie auction was once again very successful generating education funds. Yummy. Thanks to all of you that took the time to provide cookies of various types.

Only two applications were received for the three available MTA scholarships. Tuition certainly hasn’t decreased, so encourage that student to take a little bit of time to complete an application for 2014. Student loans need to be repaid, but not scholarships. The general auction generated enough funds to pay off the trapping cabin trailer this year. Yahoo! A refurbished trapper’s cabin is now mobile & ready for events within Montana. Let’s get it out there for trappers & the general public to enjoy. Many auction items were donated towards MTA‘s education fund, which will make budgeting a little easier. All of the trappers using NAFA for fur sales provided a whopping $2,000 return donation check to be used for trapping education. Thank you NAFA and MTA trappers!

There was a large hole in the venders area due to Glen Hanson’s passing away. I missed visiting with Glen & Ada and snooping through their inventory. Valerie Esche retired as Membership Secretary after many productive years. Everyone in MTA will miss her bright smile & cheerful attitude. Ask and you shall receive: Karen Chapman has stepped into Valerie’s shoes as MTA’s new Membership Secretary. Karen was quite surprised at all of the equipment & files she inherited from Valerie! Good thing Karen had a pickup to drive home. Saturday’s demos must have been interesting & informative, due to the large disbursement from the main building to the demo area. The MTA booth kept us busier than usual. We missed watching the Miss & Teen Rodeo Montana queens setting traps this year in their fur vests. Miss Rodeo Montana, Alyson Grinestaff, is convalescing from medical problems with her back. Lower back pain doesn’t make riding horses fun anymore. We all wish Alyson good luck with her healing. The Rodeo queens were a great asset during the first annual Trapping Heritage Celebration in Lolo this spring.

It was good to visit with those of you attending the 2013 Rendezvous. Have a great fall trapping & hunting in the Great Outdoors of Montana. We are the Proud & Free Trappers. — Terry J. Sheppard, Treasurer



Another trapping season is fast approaching and as usual there are lots of things that are not ready for me again. I did manage to get some dirt fixed up but not as much as I usually do. It seems that this summer my life just got away from me and I kept trying to catch up to it. I believe that it is either just poor planning on my part or the fact that I am slowing with age (probably both).

Another busy year is starting as far as trap initiatives. Several states have trapping initiatives being introduced and it looks like we will be one of them. The ARF’s are starting the process for another ballot initiative and several of our officers are working at making it harder for them. As usual the ARF’s use language that is quite misleading or an outright lie. Toby and Paul have been engaged in the wordsmithing and have slowed the ARF’s somewhat. At this time the initiative wording has passed the attorney generals’ office and soon the ARF’s will begin to collect signatures for a ban on trapping in Montana. The last time they almost got enough signatures and I am sure that, given enough time, they will get what they need this time around. If that happens then we will be in for another fight and it will be expensive. The Board of Directors is already addressing this issue and I am sure that you will hear about it.

The lynx lawsuit in federal court, in Missoula is progressing along and costing some bucks for the lawyering that is taking place. There will be lots more on that before it is done as well. Some might think that this lynx thing will not affect them because they are not in the critical lynx area. WRONG AGAIN. They have already increased the area from the first time (15 or so years ago) and the judges that consider this can increase it more if they are shown more information. This is also a back door attack on the trapping of wolves. Our game Commission has already added some new rules on wolf trapping to try and appease the ARF’s. Want’a bet how well that works?

The Rendezvous was a pretty good one. We had a good turnout and I have to say everyone was in pretty good form. I missed seeing Coyote Charlie as he has been having some health issues but hope to see him again next year if not sooner. I am guessing that the demo’s were good because I did not get to see any of them. It seems that there is always something needing to be done. I will say that despite a couple of comments about the business meeting and the vendors, that this was one of the best attended general business meetings that I have seen. That is good because of the issues involved. The Rendezvous is the one time that we can get a substantial amount of the membership to listen and express their views. Our MTA Constitution calls for us to have one general membership meeting a year and the Rendezvous is that time. The actual purpose of the Rendezvous is to have the general membership meeting for the year. The fact that we have the vendors there is definitely an added bonus for all concerned. If we did not do this then we would be in violation of our own constitutional rules. You can see how that goes on the national level with our congress all the time. I personally do not want to go there. A couple of things else- one feller said he would not join the MTA because we backed the FWP in the wolf trapping issue. He figures it will be the demise of trapping in the state. Maybe so, but look at the numbers. The MTA had around 500 members when the wolf trapping issue came up. Suppose we fought the FWP and said no way, which we did at one time, (how many of you know about that???). There were around 2400 folks that took the wolf certification. That computes to over 4 times as many that were for it, as would have been against it. Do the math folks and don’t use phony excuses for not being a member. The other deal was, I asked why another did not join the Association. He said last year someone had called him a welfare trapper because he did not join the MTA and it hurt his feelings. I am sorry about that and it could have been me that said it, but the fact remains that there he was at a MTA sanctioned event. The MTA put it on, got the vendors there, had the demo’s for all and sundry to watch at no charge, but still the Association is not worth buying a membership for. Go figure. Does all this stuff happen because it falls into place out of thin air?? This is just one of the more visible things that the MTA does.

Case in point: I started to try and keep a running tally of the hours and miles that I spent on MTA events starting in January of this year. I did okay for a while but then I got lazy and did not keep up on the list. As I was writing this I see the things that I did have down. With the ones that I wrote down early in the season when I was fresh it comes to 1876 miles and 174 hours that I donated to Association events; primarily education events. There were quite a few more but I forgot to write them down. None of that was for Commission meetings that I attended and sometimes spoke at. I sat through hours of game Commission meetings that had not just fur trapping but wolf trapping and hunting as well on the agenda. Funny, how I cannot remember seeing some of these other folks there as well. Probably just my bad memory at work. However, I digress, as my point is – there are folks out there that spent way more time and mileage than I did, trying to keep our trapping privileges alive and well. I am not bragging or complaining, I am just stating a fact. We have some very dedicated folks as your directors and officers of the MTA. They spend way more time and effort than I do to keep this thing going. Think of this the next time you wonder what the leadership of the MTA is doing. It would be real nice if everybody would just do a little and it would spread the workload. In my opinion, the very least that you can do is show support by spending 30 dollars a year to be a member of the Association.

I will quit pounding on this issue for now but I will never let it lay down and die, so expect to hear more about it in the future.

On to other things – trapping; it has been a long hot summer and drought in this area has dried many small creeks and ponds. Some areas that had good muskrat populations are now bare and dry. I have not heard a coyote howl all summer. I see fox tracks but not so many coyote. With the wolves being in the area I think that the coyotes that ran off at the mouth might have wound up in a pile of wolf turds. I have seen where the wolves hit the game pretty hard in some areas and then turned to beaver. I know that every predator likes beaver, but it seemed that there was quite a bit of continuous wolf sign in areas of more beaver. I am really curious to see how last season and the trapping and hunting will affect the wolves in this area this year. I saw some changes last season but how far reaching they will be I do not know. I do know that it takes one big stretcher to take care of wolf pelts. My trap shed is way too small if I get lucky again this year. Several folks asked me how I caught the wolves I did last year. That is a real easy answer. Just catch the dumb ones – let the good trappers catch the smart ones. We still do not have a snare season for the wolf. The Commissioners are dragging their feet on this one. I am convinced that the wolf will do his wolfy thing and eventually we will get a snaring season. As long as folks keep reinventing the wheel, in the wolf management issue, it will still be awhile yet, but I am convinced that it will happen.

It appears that the prices for fur will be at another high this year. This is always good and bad. The good is it brings out more trappers and keeps the interest strong. More trappers in the field usually means more to support trapping against the ARF’s. It also means that there will be more of the “green-eyed boys” out there. We have all seen some of them. They are the ones that run and gun with no regard for the resource or for anyone else. There are no ethics or management principles involved. These are the ones that as soon as the price drops, so do they. Quite often they are the ones who cause problems for the rest of us. Hopefully we will not have this happen within the trapper ranks. Unfortunately, the ARF’s are looking for any infraction or bad luck so they can expound on it in their favor. As you all know, the ARF’s are not limited to telling the truth or following the laws. If they can fabricate an incident and get in the news, they will do it in a heartbeat. It can be difficult to prove that it is a fabrication and even if it is proven, the news seems to let that part go by. Sometimes the truth just doesn’t sell newspapers as well.

Well that is it for now and I wish you all a great season. I know that I am looking forward to learning more about the critters that I pursue again this year. May all your fur be prime and top lot. — Bob Sheppard



The membership list was updated on Sept. 26, 2013 at this time there are 932 memberships carried on the MTA database. The MTA membership has increased by 24 memberships since the Sept 2nd 2013 report.

There are 72 family memberships, which means that 72 can be added to the 932 on the list which would accurately bring the MTA membership to 1004, an increase of 30 since the Sept 2nd 2013 report.

The 932 memberships on the list are as follows:

• 3 are Honorary Memberships

• 59 are expired memberships

• 122 are Life Memberships

• 748 are Current Annual Memberships

The District numbers as of Sept. 26, 2013 were as follows:

Out of State 50 +1; District 1 125 +2; District 2 268 -1; District 3 189 +5; District 4 102 +3; District 5 86 +1; District 6 50 +3; District 7 55 +3; and Total 932 +24 — Karen Chapman



They are at it again; after losing in 2010; they said they would be back and here they are! The animal rights people are attempting to ban trapping on Montana’s public lands. Efforts are currently under way to collect the required number of signatures in order to place I-167, a ballot initiative on the ballot in the November 2014 election.

If you are in the same area with these people, you are asked to not confront them with hostility; however you may ask them polite questions or provide facts which refute untruths which may have been spoken. Some of the facts to be used are:

• I-167 will hurt Montana’s agriculture, ranching and forestry industries by significantly adding to the cost of doing business in Montana.

• I-167 will be in violation of the Montana Constitution.

• I-167 will be in violation of MCA 87-6-603 wasting of fur.

• I-167 would remove a needed method to control wolves and other problem animals in Montana.

• The professional wildlife biologists at the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department do an excellent job of regulating and overseeing Montana’s trapping activities to ensure sustainable wildlife populations.

• I-167 will impact Montana’s taxpayers as it dictates that the Department or other unit of government must use its own employees and may not contract with or use private persons to accomplish the trapping activities for safety or health.



MTA member Tom Jones, along with the Assiniboine/Gros Ventre people of the Fort Belknap Indian Community have generously donated a buffalo to the MTA. The buffalo will be the subject of a buffalo hunt sweepstakes, which will take place on the Fort Belknap tribal lands, south of Harlem MT, in October of 2014. The winner of the sweepstakes will have the privilege stalking a buffalo in the 22,000 acre Snake Butte pasture and then harvesting. It will be a guided hunt for a dry cow, with assistance provided in field dressing, skinning and quartering; the processing of the meat will be up to the winner of the hunt.

It has been requested that the proceeds from the sweepstakes be used for education; this generous donation arrives at an opportune time, as the MTA is in need of funds for the trapper education program. Take this opportunity to sell a few entries to your hunting, fishing, trapping buddies; or just buy a few yourself.



Results of the 2013 election are as below.

President – Toby Walrath

VP West – Jason Maxwell

Treasurer Terry J Sheppard

The above positions were unopposed

Membership Secretary

Karen Chapman, Belgrade MT was appointed by the President and approved by the Board.

As per the MTA election rules adopted by the Board; the offices of VP East, Recording Secretary , Membership Secretary & NTA Representative are now open for nomination. The nominations will close and the Board will adopt the slate of candidates at the 2014 Spring Board meeting. Voting will take place by absentee ballot and at the 2014 MTA Rendezvous.

Please submit candidate nominations to Jim Buell



I attended a court appearance in Missoula, Thursday, August 8, 2013. Judge Christensen required that all attorneys appear in person. The Court then issued a scheduling order based on the discussions at the appearance.

The Judge had thoroughly reviewed the submission of all parties, including ours, and questioned all parties on their claims and defenses. The Plaintiffs generally described the trapping restriction they are seeking. Although Plaintiffs have asked in their Complaint for a total ban on trapping and snaring, they told the Judge after reviewing what FWP and the trappers have pled in their Answers, they are realistically looking for those restrictions recommended by USFWS for trapping in areas with Lynx.

After the court appearance, I met with the attorney for FWP, and discussed the case. The meeting with the attorney for FWP was positive, although, she did not mention that FWP was to be proposing additional trapping restrictions in areas designated as lynx critical habitat. We should discuss the FWP proposed additional restrictions. Otherwise, the case is progressing as expected.

Editors Note: See 2013 MT trapping regulations for snaring restrictions in historic lynx habitat.

As always, please let me know if you have questions. — Gary R. Leistico


There is nothing new since my email on August 12 with the attached Scheduling Order. Litigations progress in spurts and there will be lulls. This is basically a lull. I have drafted discovery requests to the Plaintiffs and will be serving those in the next few weeks. We will be looking for a trapper from Montana to be an expert witness in the case. Substantial experience trapping, has trapped lynx while legal, but no incidental catches of lynx. Let me know if you want more information for the general membership. Basically all is good for now and nothing about this case will impact this fall. Hopefully the state will place no additional restrictions on trapping through the state rule process. Thanks. — Gary R. Leistico, Attorney



Relaxing Snare Requirement for Bobcat Sets in Trapping Districts 1, 2 and Portions of 3, 4, and 5

This regulation is specific to bobcat sets on public land to minimize the incidental capture of lynx: Non-relaxing (lethal) snares are prohibited in all bobcat sets. This regulation is designed to avoid the incidental take of federally threatened lynx by snares in a bobcat sets and will now cover occupied lynx habitat and the two federally designated critical lynx habitat areas in Montana. In addition, the current breakaway snare lock requirement still applies for all snares.

What is a relaxing snare? A relaxing snare actually means that the locking device on the snare cable operates both ways allowing the snare cable to move back and forth to some degree. A relaxing snare should be defined as having a lock which allows the snare loop to loosen slightly when an animal stops pulling against it. This is to reduce the possibility of strangulation, particularly in the case of lynx. Locks that only close or that use springs or other powering devices to hold them closed are not considered relaxing snares. The Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies (AFWA) defines a relaxing snare as having a snare lock that allows the snare loop to release constriction pressure on the captured animal when the cable is not taut (e.g., when the animal stops pulling it will loosen).

As per this “non-relaxing snare prohibited” regulation (terminology referring directly to relaxing locks as defined above), deer stops do not meet the requirement to the definition of a relaxing snare. Stops are not a lock device.

Listed below is a partial list of locks that are commercially available through snare and trap dealers and are considered as relaxing locks by Fish, Wildlife & Parks, if they are not modified and are assembled with the appropriate snare cable diameter. Any alteration of a lock from its manufactured condition may affect performance and again, the cable size must match the lock to avoid the cable from being bound up at the lock. —  Relax-A-Lock, Dakota Line’s Low Pro, Relaxing Washer Lock, Quarter Washer Lock and Berkshire Washer Lock.

What is a bobcat set? A bobcat set is defined as a cubby set or similar enclosure that incorporates a visual lure or sight attractant in addition to bait placed in the cubby or enclosure. — Gary R. Leistico, Attorney



If you are one of the MTA Members who had requested to receive your Newsletter via email in full color; please send your request to the Editor at A list is being compiled so that in the future you may receive your Newsletter electronically; thus saving the MTA postage and printing costs.



1st Ticket — Debbie Hulett – Condon MT, Honda Recon 4 X 4 ATV

2nd Ticket — Courtney Herzog – Rapelje MT, Beaver Fur jacket

3rd Ticket — Mary Jane McKittrick – Billings MT, Moose Antler Carving

4th Ticket — Rick Hamzy – Bozeman MT, Ruger 10/22 .22 cal Rifle

5th Ticket — Stan Berkbugler – Perryville MO, Heritage .22cal Pistol

6th Ticket — Don Hecht – Lewistown MT, Ruana Drop Point Skinner

7th Ticket — John Clark – Lolo MT, Fox Pro Wildlife Caller

8th Ticket — Don Hecht – Lewistown MT, Damascus Skinner Knife

9th Ticket — Travis Post – Hamilton MT, Mossberg .22 cal Rifle

10th Ticket — Daniel Lahuta – Missoula MT, Savage HMR .17 cal Rifle



Officer of the Year — Paul Fielder

Director of the Year — Toby Walrath

Trapper of the Year — Brian Stoner

Youth Trapper of the Year — Jean Blackman

2013 Rendezvous Queen — Ruth Otto

1st Runner-up — Marci Stoner



Follow the Montana Trappers Association on Facebook

Jason Maxwell, MTA’s new VP West; Jason has created a facebook page for the MTA. Be sure and check it out; similar to our web site, you will be able to access a great deal of information as well as add your comments.



The Western States Fur Sale was held March 16, 2013 at the “Little Metra” located in Columbus Montana

Sellers received some of the top prices paid in the west for the season; consider consigning some of your fur next year. — Brian Stoner, Chairman

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