The Roundup -

State Approves I-177, the Montana Trap-Free Public Lands Initiative


Public lands in Montana will become free of commercial and recreational traps, if an initiative approved by the Attorney General’s office qualifies for the November 2016 general election and is approved by a majority of voters. The Secretary of State approved signature gathering Oct. 7. Proponents must get a minimum of 24,175 qualified signatures from 34 house districts in the state of Montana by June 17, 2016.

According to the official state language the Montana Trap-Free Public Lands Act (MTFPL): Generally prohibits the use of traps and snares for animals on any public lands within Montana and establishes misdemeanor criminal penalties for violations of the trapping prohibitions. I-177 allows the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks to use certain traps on public land when necessary if nonlethal methods have been tried and found ineffective. I-177 allows trapping by public employees and their agents to protect public health and safety, protect livestock and property, or conduct specified scientific and wildlife management activities.

Under the initiative, trapping on private lands, which comprise 65 percent of the state, will not be affected. According to the MTFPL website, the impetus behind the initiative is three-fold: concern for public safety, the inhumane and indiscriminate nature of traps, and the unsustainable pressure trapping for commerce and recreation puts on dwindling and endangered species. Under current law, trappers are able to set an unlimited number of traps, warning signs are not required, and trappers are advised but not required to check their traps in any specific period of time. “Hidden traps directly endanger people, pets, and wildlife” said Chris Justice, executive director of Footloose Montana and volunteer for MFTPL. “Montanans should not have to compromise peace of mind, welfare of children, and pet safety when using their own public land.”

Dr. Tim Provow, president of MTFPL, said that trapping conflicts with hunting ethics. “Trapping violates the ‘Be Sure of Your Target’ rule by its indiscriminate killing of many species, including endangered, threatened and sensitive species, such as Canada lynx and American bald eagle,” he said. “Trapping has almost wiped out other species including marten, otter, wolverine, fisher and swift fox. “Trapping is not ‘Fair Chase,’ or quick and efficient kill,” Provow continued. “Tens of thousands of untended, unmonitored traps on public lands lure wild and domestic animals with bait. And for every wild furbearer killed, many more non-targeted, wild and domestic animals are killed and discarded.”

To read the initiative, donate or volunteer to help, go to or call 406-274-1069.


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