We are a Montana citizen driven, volunteer, grassroots ballot initiative committee that was formed at the end of 2013. We represent a vast array of people who value ethical and responsible treatment of wildlife and safe use of our treasured, yet, minimal public lands in Montana. Our initiative is based on past experiences, what other states attempted and achieved, review of concerns, objections, modifications and credible knowledgeable and legal advice. Our goal is to empower the public through the democratic process giving all Montanans a vote in the significant and increasing problematic matter of trapping on our Montana public lands.
Time was our most limiting factor in our 2014 attempt in obtaining the required 24,175 signatures from a minimum of 34 legislative house districts in Montana. Our initiative picked up where Footloose Montana left off leaving us in the end only 4 months instead of 12 to qualify for the Nov. ballot. Although we were a far cry from what we needed, the enthusiastic responses we received and the help that generated was impressive. Of all the 2014 ballot initiatives, we obtained the highest number of verifiable registered Montana voters signatures. The number one reason our signatures did not wind up counting was the signer was not registered to vote. However, in our short amount of time, predominantly volunteers and most with other full-time jobs, on a shoe string budget, from predominately Montanan's financial donations, we qualified all of Ravalli county, 1 district in Missoula, 1 in Lewis and Clarke, 1 in Lake county and came close in several more.
Our Montana outdoor lifestyle and presence of public lands is a major draw for residents, small businesses and the visitors who come primarily to view wildlife. Our public lands comprise roughly only 1/3 of Montana. Contrarily, and unknown to many, lies the hidden indiscriminate destruction from legal year round trapping resulting in a reported average minimum of 45,000 wild animals are trapped and killed and an average of 50 dogs are trapped annually in Montana.
1. Trapping takes an enormous toll on riparian ecology by especially targeting beaver. This means less water and less riparian habitat for all species (humans, songbirds, ungulates, fish, etc.)
Q: Is this initiative a total ban of trapping?
A: This initiative prohibits recreational trapping only on one-third of the state, Montana’s public lands, while trapping on private land, two-thirds of the state, can continue. Also this initiative allows trapping on public lands for science, health and safety, and falconry.
- Hunting is strictly regulated and hunters are generally penalized for shooting the wrong species. Hunters have a season, wear orange, have a bag limit, are not allowed to bait animals.
- Hunters are not permitted to leave their guns set unattended ready to shoot. In Montana it is illegal to leave a fishing pole unattended. A trapper can set and leave as many traps and snares as they chose. Trappers tell FWP they set 50,000 traps.
- Training is not mandated for trappers, except for legally trapping wolves attendance at a 6 hr class is required.
- Montana residents do not need to purchase a $29 trapping license except to trap furbearers and wolves. The traps do not discriminate whether they are set by a licensed or non-purchaser.
- Less than 1% of Montanans purchase a trapping license, 6,000 approximated. This does not cover the salaries and benefits of the Montana furbearer division.
- Trappers do not need to report their "Incidental" non-target catches, including rare and protected species if the trapper deems they can be released "unharmed".
- Records are absent or incomplete of the number of trapped wildlife including protected species, family pets.
- No provisions exclude all species from being trapped or snared, costing us losses in game species, pets, and protected species. Costing us lawsuits as well.
- Unlike guns and ammo, there is no excise tax on traps.
- Trapping is legal year round in Montana.