This letter is in support of 1-169 which if passed by the people of Montana would ban trapping on public lands. Now, to dispel some myths.
First – The trapping community wants you to believe that this initiative was created and financed by out of state ‘special interest groups’. Truth – Trap Free Montana Public Lands is a local grass-roots group. Trapping proponents blather on about how one group of recreationists can dictate the activities on public land. “Why should one group have say over another on what is allowable on public land? The premise that an activity I enjoy on public land be outlawed just because an animal rights group disagrees with trapping is inconceivable to me.” (Paul Rossignol, Lolo). Well, Paul, a ballot initiative is just that. It is placed on a ballot so the citizens of Montana can decide.
Second – The argument that “trapping is part of our heritage” is wearing thin. Heritage does not necessarily refer to past practices that were moral or humane. Slavery, KKK, eradication/control of Native Americans were all considered ‘part of our heritage’. People cling to the heritage card when they are in fear of losing something regardless of it being unacceptable by the general population.
Third – Another misconception is that if trapping on public lands is banned then ‘they’ll go after hunting and fishing’. “I know that I want my children to have the same opportunities to hunt and fish as I have had, and allowing the practice of trapping will help to ensure those opportunities.” (Mark Myers, Hamilton) Again FALSE! The group Trap Free Montana Public Lands has no issue with fishing and fair chase hunting. Hunting and Fishing are protected rights under Montana State Constitution voted in by the Montana citizens.
Fourth – Trappers will tell you that trapping is selective and focuses only on the target species. Well, here’s an excerpt which disproves that and clearly shows the indiscriminate nature of trapping.
According to an article by Perry Backus in the March 4, 2013 Missoulian: “In the first year that wolf trapping was allowed in Idaho, trappers captured a total of 123 wolves. But according to a survey by the Idaho Fish and Wildlife Department, those same trappers in 2011-2012 also inadvertently captured 147 other animals, including white-tailed deer, elk, moose, mountain lions, skunks and ravens.
Trappers reported that 69 of those animals died as a result.
Jon Rachael, Idaho Department of Fish and Game’s state wildlife game manager, said the survey sent to his state’s trappers didn’t require them to identify if the non-targeted animal was captured by a foothold trap or a snare.
‘My guess is those animals caught in snares are typically the ones that end up dead,’ Rachael said. ‘White-tailed deer will kill themselves. They’re high strung and they’ll struggle.’
White-tailed deer seemed to be the main challenge facing Idaho’s wolf trappers. Trappers reported capturing 45 deer. Twelve of those died. They also captured 18 elk and four moose. One of the elk died. The same number of coyotes ended up in traps as deer. Trappers reported that 38 were killed. Mountain lions also took a hit. Nine were captured and six died.
‘It’s been a challenge,’ Rachael said. ‘Trappers are talking with each other about ways to mitigate that. No one wants to catch a deer. It costs them a lot of time. They don’t want to kill deer, moose or elk.’ “
So … at least trappers are in agreement and want to mitigate the problem of catching ungulates because “it costs them a lot of time”. There’s proof that the Montana Trapping Association’s defense of selective trapping is completely bogus. Montana FWP estimates 35 percent of trappers will report a non-target capture/kill. So, what of the other 65 percent? What happens when Mr. 65% Trapper happens upon that dang critter in his trap he had no intention of capturing? What if it’s a dog? One would assume that reporting a nontarget trapped animal would bring a metaphorical black eye to the practice. Do you really want to file that report or correctly answer the survey? What to do … what to do? Catch, Dispatch and Pitch.
Lastly – Trappers claim that animals DO NOT FEEL PAIN. I want to send my sincere gratitude to the Montana Trapping Association for educating me on this matter. All this time I thought the trapped coyote and dog screams I’ve been witness to were a reaction to pain. Screams of joy … screams of joy! Thank you, MTA. Now we have Dennis ‘foothold’ Schultz (past president of MTA) coming out from under his rock to oppose this initiative. Only problem is he’s in direct conflict with the Montana Trapping Association as his quote implies. “We trappers do cause pain and suffering to animals and apologize to no one.”
Yes, I’m a dog owner and it would be nice to be able to take him into the National Forest without the looming threat of traps. Yes, I believe trapping to be the exploitation of a natural resource by a small percent of our population. Yes, trapping is indiscriminate despite what the trapping community claims. But, for me, it’s a pure disdain for people that feel the need to torture, maim and then kill for sport and a few dollars.
Citizens of Montana, don’t be duped by pro-trapping propaganda. This cruel, barbaric practice needs to go the way of slavery. Sign the petition and help get the initiative on the ballot so we can vote against trapping on public lands in Montana.