It’s difficult to believe that the needless maiming and suffering inflicted on animals through the practice of trapping is still legal.
The American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Animal Hospital Association, the National Animal Control Association, and the World Veterinary Organization all have declared leghold traps to be inhumane. Animals, including pets, that get caught in leg hold taps can suffer for days. They have also been known to chew their legs off to try to get free from the trap after suffering, alive, in the trap for days.
But the Montana Trappers Association and their sidekick, the Orwellianly-named “Montanans for Effective Wildlife Management,” aren’t just promoting the cruel and completely unnecessary practice of trapping animals–they also appear to be using some pretty despicable tactics to keep trapping legal.
In fact, the two pro-trapping organizations are now under investigation for alleged multiple violations of campaign finance and financial reporting. According to a complaint filed with the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices, the trappers held a big auction to raise money they said would be used to oppose the trapping ban. Yet a review of the organizations’ filings with OPP shows that they never reported the $25,000 in profits they claimed to have earned from the auction–in any of their PAC or incidental committee reports.
Then there are these photos, which appear to show MT Trappers Association Vice President Jason Maxwell using a FWP trailer and booth to display its materials and banner–their banner opposing the trapping ban initiative I-169. If this turns out to be the case, allowing the use of state resources in this manner this may be a violation of state ethics and political activity laws, because state agencies and public resources are not allowed to campaign to support or oppose ballot initiatives.
Mr. Maxwell did not respond to a request for comment. Mr. Maxwell has responded in the comments, you can read his statement on this matter here. Perhaps someone from the Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks will weigh in here on whether he had their permission to use state resources to campaign against I-169, which seems doubtful.
The Montana Trappers’ Association’s Political Action Committee and the Montanans for Efficient Wildlife Management has also claimed that the Missoula Food Bank is a supporter of their effort to keep a ban on trapping off the ballot–without the food bank’s knowledge or permission.
In fact, a spokesperson for the Missoula Food Bank has asked that any reference to the food bank be immediately removed from any of the trappers’ materials. In a letter to the Montana Trappers Association’s leadership (pasted below the fold), the MT Food Bank Network stated that the organization was listed without it’s knowledge and is not a supporter the campaign against I-169–indeed the Food Bank states that as a 501 c-3 and not a political action committee or incidental ballot committee they cannot oppose the trapping ban. You can see the Missoula Foodbank clearly listed as a supporter on this flyer: Montanans for Effective Wildlife Management – SUPPORTERS
One wonders if the other organizations listed year, including several other 501c-3s, are aware that their organizations are being used in this manner. Again, because 501 c-3s are not permitted to oppose or support ballot initiatives, it’s not likely that they’ve actually joined the trappers in opposing 1-169. Cowgirl tipsters also report that Big Sky Brewery’s co-owner Neal Leathers reportedly had no idea about this and had never even heard of this bunch.
You can read the Missoula Food Bank’s letter asking that they be removed from the list of supporters below.
From: Jessica Allred
Sent: Tuesday, July 01, 2014 10:26 AM
To: ‘VPWest@montanatrappers.org‘; ‘PastPresident@montanatrappers.org‘; ‘President@montanatrappers.org‘; ‘firstname.lastname@example.org‘
Cc: Cynthia Lotty
Subject: Missoula Food Bank listed on website
To Whom it May Concern:
It has come to our attention that Missoula Food Bank has been listed as a supporter of voting “No on I-169”.
As a nonpartisan, 501 (c)3, we do not affiliate with any political campaigns, ballot initiatives or other politically-charged issues without deliberate action and vote by our board of directors. The issue of I-169 is outside of our mission, and would not be an issue that Missoula Food Bank’s board would consider supporting or opposing.
We are asking that we be removed immediately from any information, online postings, print materials and other information you are producing, asking you to understand the risk at which it puts our organization that is serving 1 in 7 Missoulians. We rely on and appreciate the support of many diverse organizations and groups. So thank you for your support, but kindly, please remove us as a listed “supporting” organization – as this was done without our knowledge or authorization.
Missoula Food Bank provides emergency food assistance to people and strives to reduce hunger. Last year, we provided assistance to 1 in 7 people in Missoula County. The support of our community makes this work possible, with more than 58% of our annual revenue coming from caring individuals and with more than 17,000 hours of donated time from 925 different volunteers each year. Learn more at www.missoulafoodbank.org