Trappers everywhere should pay attention to events unfolding in Big Sky country.
When Montana voters head to the ballot box this November, they will be voting on initiative I-177, which aims to stop legal trapping practices on all public grounds.
According to the Montana state government, the proposal “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.”
The government also forecasts that if I-177 passes, the state would not only lose around $61,380 (from license sales alone, judging by the way it reads) but would also incur new costs for wolf management and hiring new federal employees to trap species no longer pursued by trappers. No, folks, I’m not making this up.
The initiative comes at a time when trappers around the country are facing mounting pressure from anti-trapping groups. As can be expected, Montana trappers are rallying the troops and doing their best to retain their trapping rights. Here is a good opinion article posted on helnair.com.
The gent who penned the opinion makes a few noteworthy points. One worth emphasizing is the cultural aspect of trapping: few people know that there are organizations across the country whose goal is to go around the world and protect indigenous people who hunt, fish, or trap every day of their lives. How can there be so much support for people half a world away, while at home, folks who do the same thing are vilified?
It is as if being surrounded by the so-called “bounty” of the 21st century has taken away the option to pursue more traditional pastimes. It seems that because we drive pickups and boats, we aren’t seen as real trappers, or hunters, or fishermen, and our traditions no longer matter.
I’m not from Montana, but I hope for the best for those guys and gals up there. More than anything, I’d hate to think of all the folks who love trapping and posses a storehouse of knowledge about the wilderness being left high and dry.
Sure, I-177 would still allow trapping on private lands, but with one-third of the land off limits, I’m sure the sting would be substantial. If folks are worried about their pets getting nabbed in a non-lethal foothold trap, there surely is a better solution than banning trapping once and for all. Trapping is a necessary endeavor and a positive good for people and habitats.
From an outsider’s point of view, a step in that direction surely seems like a step in the wrong direction.