Montana Chapter voices support for regulated trapping

By Jennifer Becar

Beaver (Castor canadensis) is one species that can be trapped in the state of Montana under current law. ©Seokhee Kim

A statement by the Montana Chapter of The Wildlife Society was released on Oct. 31 in The Montana Standard stating the Chapter’s support for continuing regulated trapping of furbearers and other non-game wildlife on public and private lands as a means of managing wildlife populations in the state.

The Chapter’s statement closely mirrors The Wildlife Society’s Standing Position on Traps, Trapping, and Furbearer Management. These positions recognize regulated trapping as an effective research and management tool for furbearers and other wildlife. Both statements also recognize the importance of trapping to the lifestyles of many individuals, providing economic and recreational opportunities for outdoorsmen.

The statement is timely, considering a Montana initiated state statute called The Montana Animal Trap Restrictions Initiative (I-177) on the ballot in tomorrow’s general election. This initiative, if passed, would prohibit individuals from using animal traps and snares on state public lands. The initiative would not apply to wildlife management actions by the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks, nor would it impact trapping on private lands.

Groups opposed to I-177 include the Montana Trappers Association, Montana Sportsmen’s Alliance, and the Montana Outfitters & Guides Association. “I think that it’s important to protect the rights of a sportsman to be able to utilize the land in different ways,” says Senator Jennifer Fielder (MT-R), who opposes the initiative.

The Center for Biological Diversity, Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals, and the Sierra Club Montana Chapter are among those supporting the initiative. In an official argument for I-177, individuals argued that the initiative was needed to address concerns about public safety and animal welfare.

The Montana Animal Trap Restrictions Initiative is one of several wildlife-related ballot measures being voted on in tomorrow’s general election.

UPDATE Nov. 9: The Montana Animal Trap Restrictions Initiative was not passed during the general election on Nov. 8, 2016.

Becar_Headshot Jennifer Becar is a policy intern at The Wildlife Society as part of the Government Affairs & Partnership program.

Read more of Jennifer's articles.