Next week, Montana voters will decide the future of trapping in Montana. With complete disregard for scientifically-sound conservation methods, animal rights extremists are proposing that wildlife management decisions be left up to the voters through “ballot box” biology. On the 2016 General Election ballot is Initiative 177, an anti-trapping proposal that will negatively impact game management in Montana, cause a loss of revenue to the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) and increase costs to Montana taxpayers.
Trapping is an important tool for wildlife managers. I-177 would negatively affect science-based wildlife management which has been successfully used to establish, sustain and restore wildlife populations in North America. Without lawful trapping, wildlife managers must resort to other forms of predator control, including the use of pesticides which could prove much more dangerous due to their indiscriminate nature, potentially affecting wildlife, pets and humans as well.
Montana’s Constitution protects citizens’ right to harvest wild fish and game under the Preservation of Harvest Heritage clause contained in Article IX, Section 7. If approved, I-177 will remove a recognized and constitutionally protected form of wildlife management that keeps predatory animals in check.
Montana trapping license sales have steadily increased since 1990 contributing almost $1 million annually to Montana’s economy. Initiative 177 would not only strip away this revenue but it would increase costs to state wildlife managers (and ultimately taxpayers) at the same time. They would become responsible for removing problem animals and keeping predator populations in balance, tasks that trappers currently pay to do.
Initiative 177 is a flawed measure that would cost taxpayers money. Help protect Montana’s lawful trapping and prevent outside groups from taking away the traditions that thousands practice every year. Wildlife management policies should be based on scientifically-based and sound conservation methods, not dictated by an emotional anti-trapping agenda.