Montana Trappers in for a Fight

  

Footloose Montana, an anti-trapping group, has pushed forward an initiative on Montana ballots that would outlaw all trapping on public land in the state.The Montana Trappers Association has been monitoring the situation for months and President Tom Barnes had this to say in his last T&PC report:

Your board is not sitting back hoping they will just go away. We are
working on some things to counteract their actions. This all takes time
and money (Serious Money!). This will be an effort by all organizations
effected by any such initiative, and believe me there are many that
will be effected. We are working toward getting everyone on board to
fight this war. I will not go into detail on what we are working on,
because who knows who might read this. If you would like to find out
more, feel free to give any director or myself a call.

You can contact Tom at 406-683-2791 or t_barnes@wmc.edu.

If you’d like to donate to the MTA, visit their donations page. I’m sure they will appreciate any help you can provide.

Here is a draft copy of the Footloose Montana initiative:

BE IT ENACTED BY THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF MONTANA

AN INITIATIVE CALLED THE MONTANA TRAP-FREE PUBLIC LANDS INITIATIVE   PROHIBITING TRAPPING OF ANIMALS ON PUBLIC LAND WITHIN THE STATE OF MONTANA EXCEPT FOR SCIENTIFIC OR PROPGATION PURPOSES AND PROVIDING AN IMMEDIATE EFFECTIVE DATE.
Be it enacted by the people of the state of Montana:
NEW SECTION. Section 1. Short title. [Sections 1 through 3] may be cited as the Montana Trap-Free Public Lands Initiative.
NEW SECTION. Section 2. Findings. The people of the state of Montana find as follows:

1.    Animal trapping poses significant financial threats to Montana’s tourism revenue stream.  An estimated two hundred fifty million to three hundred million dollars per year flow into our state from wildlife watching activities.  The direct loss of wildlife due to trapping, as well as the unfavorable public opinion of such activities, poses a direct threat to this revenue source.

2.    Animal trapping is largely unregulated in Montana.  There are no limits to the number of traps a trapper may set, and thus, no limit to the number of animals taken each year.  No data exist as to the population numbers or overall health of any of the animal species being trapped.  Montana is in danger of decimating its wildlife populations through trapping.

3.    The ethical implications of trapping are very disturbing.  The suffering inflicted upon so many species in the name of recreation and profit is astounding.  The people of Montana have too much respect for the wildlife within their state to allow such activities to continue.

4.    Montana’s public lands should be open to all people.  By placing such hazardous and indiscriminate devices on our public lands, the trapping community is putting others, as well as their companion animals, at constant risk.  The people of Montana have a right to recreate on public lands without fear of injury to themselves or their pets from such devices.

Section 3.  Section 87-2-103, MCA is amended to read:

License required.  (1) Except as provided in subsection (2), it is unlawful for a person to:
(a) hunt or trap or attempt to hunt or trap any game animal, any game bird, or any fur-bearing animal or to fish for any fish within this state or possess within this state any game animal, game bird, fur-bearing animal, game fish, or parts of those animals or birds, except as provided by law or as provided by the department; or
(b) hunt or trap or attempt to hunt or trap any game animal, game bird, or fur-bearing animal or fish for any fish, except at the places and during the periods and in the manner defined by law or as defined by the department; or
(c) hunt or trap or attempt to hunt or trap any game animal, game bird, or fur-bearing animal or fish for any fish within this state or possess, sell, purchase, ship, or reship any imported or other fur-bearing animal or parts of fur-bearing animals without first having obtained a proper and valid license or permit from the department to do so; or
(d) trap or attempt to trap predatory animals or nongame wildlife without a license, as prescribed in 87-2-603, if that person is not a resident as defined in 87-2-102; or
(e) trap or attempt to trap wildlife, game, and nongame animals on public lands in Montana except as allowed under 87-2-806 MCA or 87-2-807 MCA.
(2) The provisions of this section do not require a person who accompanies a licensed disabled hunter, as authorized under 87-2-803(4), to be licensed in order to kill or attempt to kill a game animal that has been wounded by a disabled hunter when the disabled hunter is unable to pursue and kill the wounded game animal.  However, the person must meet the qualifications for a license in the person’s state of residence.
NEW SECTION.  Section 4.  {standard} This act is effective upon approval by the electorate.
NEW SECTION. Section 5. Submission to electorate. {standard} This act shall be submitted to the qualified electors of Montana at the general election to be held in November 2010 by printing on the ballot the following:
Statement of Purpose (100 words)
This initiative prohibits trapping of wildlife, game and nongame wildlife, including  furbearers, wolves and predators, by any means on any public lands within the state of Montana, except as allowed for scientific or propagation purposes.
Statements of Implication (25 words)
[]  FOR prohibiting trapping of animals on any public lands within the state of Montana.

[]  AGAINST prohibiting trapping of animals on any public lands within the state of Montana.

For related views on the subject, check out “On Trapping” by naturalist David Cronenwett, of Choteau, Montana, on his blog A View From Aerie Mountain. Aside from hitting on Footloose Montana’s initiative, it’s a really good take on the role and views of trapping in today’s world, and one I wish antis would read.

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