Montana Residents Fight to Stop Cruel Trapping on Public Lands

Montana residents are working to protect wildlife, people and pets from the cruel and indiscriminate traps that are laid on public lands and hope to get the issue on the ballot next November so voters can have a say.

Trap Free Montana Public Lands (TFMPL) is supporting a ballot initiative, I-169, which will effectively ban trapping on public lands, including lands that are leased to private parties, which will make about one-third of the state a lot safer.

Wildlife advocates argue that the thousands of leghold traps, body-crushing Conibear traps and snares that are legally set on public lands and along waterways are inhumanely killing an average minimum of 45,000 wild animals every year.

Some believe the actual number of animals who fall prey to traps is much higher because there is no reporting requirement for commonly trapped species, including beaver, coyote, red fox, raccoon and skunk. Most regulations in the state also only apply to animals that are considered furbearers and quotas exist for only a few species, including swift foxes and otters. There is otherwise no limit on how many animals can be trapped and killed.

Trapping supporters continue to claim that what they do is ethical and humane, but it’s clearly neither, and it should be obvious by now that trapping is not about responsibly managing wildlife, but about commercializing wild animals for the amusement and financial gain of a few who participate.

While trappers are eager to catch and kill, their traps are also posing a serious safety issue for people and pets who want to enjoy public lands without worrying about hidden dangers. During the 2012-2013 season, 55 dogs were caught in traps, which Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks writes off as a small number considering how many traps are laid.

Opponents of the initiative say this will cost the state an estimated $65,000 in lost revenue, but TFMPL counters that wildlife is worth far more to the state alive. The latest available numbers show that wildlife watchers spent an estimated $4 million annually, while only 6,000 people, 0.6 percent of Montanans, purchased the $29 trapping license.

Trapping also comes with additional costs. TFMPL argues that, “trapping depletes rare species, wastes wildlife with unintended captures, costs pet owners and taxpayers for the care of incidental catches, costs taxpayers to protect threatened and endangered species and their habitats, depletes our watersheds, and has a negative impact on Montana tourism.”

The proposal has been approved, but in order to bring the issue of trapping to voters, the group needs to gather almost 25,000 signatures from registered Montana voters by June 2014.

Similar efforts to gather enough signatures by Footloose Montana were unsuccessful in 2010, and because the group opposed changes the state made to the language of their most recent initiative it will be revisiting the issue in 2016, but meanwhile supports I-169.

If you’re a Montana resident, you can help support this effort to protect wildlife, people and pets from traps by getting a “Signature Gatherer Petition Packet” from TFMPL to help collect signatures.

Photo credit: Property #1


Jim Ven
Jim Venabout a year ago

thanks for the article.

Carrie-Anne Brown

thanks for sharing :)

Leanne B.
Leanne B.2 years ago

Thanks for posting.

Mark Donners
Mark Donner2 years ago

It explains a lot that Gerald's from the cesspool of Canada, center of some of the worst environmental destroyers and wildlife torturers.

Mark Donners
Mark Donner2 years ago

Gerald if you're doing that trapping atrocity, or if you're one of those criminals calling themselves "ranchers" I would recommend having your "property" forcibly taken from you, and be chained to a fencepost of some ghetto neighborhood in a large city. Maybe you'll survive on handouts, but you won't be destroying any wilderness environments in the hood. That would be the perfect fate for all your rancher buddies.

angela l.
Angela L.2 years ago

Leave all animals alone. Usually, it is humans who get in their territory that caused the problems. Animals and humans all have the right to co-exist on this planet. Killing is never a solution, if not killed by animals, then may kill by some psychos. We humans should watch our own actions, animals can't do more harm than humans.

Gerald L.
Gerald L.2 years ago

Suba; We hear lots of talk here on Care2 about Organic eggs, free-range, grass-fed meat, non confinement animal husbandry. Well real life is not Disneyland, there are predators which kill for the sake of killing, even a 6" weasel can wipe out dozens of chickens in one night just for the thrill of blood letting. We are not in Eden yet, where it says a lion will be happy to eat straw, but then you mock that conceptual hope also.

Realities of our age of consumerism. We must compromise. Like I said before when I see pallets of deer food, sugar beets, apples, corn for sale at gas stations near Chicago or Minneapolis for the deer feeding sympathetics and I maybe trying to grow a garden, well thank god theres hunters & trappers. Because natures balance is long gone with unnatural crops and deer feeding stations to view a beautiful animal available for (predators) wildlife, like wolves eating deer and pets.

I wonder what the stats are in Montana for coyotes, wolves and wildcats killing pets and livestock. Think it more than 55, like the 2012-2013 season, where 55 dogs were caught in traps,

Gerald L.
Gerald L.2 years ago

contd; Who subsidizes livestock insurance? We have to look at all scenarios and calculate the costs, Trapping which is self supporting, a joke since the anti-fur campaigns does have a purpose, not perfect in practice, but necessary.

Like other things in life there is unfortunately collateral damage. It is unrealistic to think a trapper can stand and wait for animals to disperse them with a gun.

Gerald L.
Gerald L.2 years ago

Suba, in Canada we cannot get carry permits, but some forestry workers in British Columbia are now packing because of bear attacks, contrary to law because they want to provide for their families. So we can have wooden houses, paper, baby diapers, personal care products, rayon (made with Neurotoxins) and Kleenex to boo hoo in.

We were discussing gun storage which has only become law in recent years. I have a neighbour 1 mile south who HAD a 4 year old daughter, another neighbour 1 mile north who had a bear breaking through the front door with his grandson traumatized. he had switched to bow hunting and could not find the bolt for his rifle which had been separated to prevent the tragedy of the other neighbour.

The 1 year old who suffered ptsd was confronted by a Smoky the Bear in costume at a shopping mall and am sure everyone in the place heard her screaming, which resulted in nightmares for weeks. She also pulled drawers out at 15 months and used them for steps to climb up into a cupboard above the fridge. So do we train & instil fear like the prepper militia's, Have you ever shot a gun? Depending on your body weight a larger caliber may lay you flat on your derrier, and a smaller caliber no effect on the predator.

Value added furs should have NO bullet damage. So answer me, who is going to pay to have beaver live-trapped in Montana to avoid property damage, road flooding etc. have beaver rescue operations, relocating, etc. Who subsidizes livestock insurance? W

Gerald L.
Gerald L.2 years ago

contd; Is this done sitting in their living rooms? Or are they actually out in the wilderness stupidly endangering themselves. I hope they are carrying guns to protect themselves from the Big Bad Wolf, ah' thats just a children's story, and well Smokey the Bear, he's a friendly guy, and Bart the Bear, he makes lot's of money looking mean and aggressive in movies!

Make sure you wear your Red Riding Hood cape when your out observing wildlife, keep an eye out for the free range bulls though! Maybe try a green cape, they may feel your a real ally and not bother you.

Suba if there are 6000 licensed trappers with a $30,000.oo truck and a $10,000.oo ATV that equals $240,000,000.oo, is this million or is my math wrong?