More on Trapping

In recent days there has been much noise on this blog from certain visitors who are opposed to an anti-trapping ballot measure, I-169.  In response to my article from two days ago describing some of the tactics and issues surrounding this proposal, pro-trapping activists expressed outrage at what they perceive to be false charges or bad information.  But none of it was inaccurate. To them, I suggest they review facts. I’ll do so here.

First, the two main pro-trapping groups in Montana are the subject of a complaint that was filed with the Commissioner of Political Practices and is now being investigated.  If the complaint is accurate, it would mean that the pro-trapping group has misused $25,000 in auction funds that it raised under false pretenses. These funds were raised for the stated purpose of ballot measure advocacy, according to those promoting it, and yet the monies are absent from group’s financial report.  Hopefully the commissioner will determine the truth of the matter.

Second, Jason Maxwell, a leading pro-trapping advocate, has been using a state vehicle, a trailer with the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks logo on it, to campaign with a traveling exhibit in favor of trapping and against the anti-trapping ballot measure. I am virtually certain that FWP does not approve of Mr. Maxwell using the vehicle to do so, even though, as Mr. Maxwell has claimed on this blog, he supposedly co-owns the vehicle with the state. State equipment cannot be used for political activity and it’s hard to believe that some sort of co-ownership would change this, and especially if he has been advised by FWP that he should not be using the vehicle for such purposes. I have asked Mr. Maxwell whether he has in fact been given permission to use the trailer for political activity, and by whom; he has not responded to that question.  Instead, he has only stated “Why would I need permission or approval to use a trailer owned by us?”   

Nobody is saying that Mr. Maxwell should go to jail or be fined.  But FWP should not be in the business of lending its logo or any other resources in opposition to or support of a ballot measure.

Third, the Missoula Food Bank did indeed notify trapping advocates to tell them to stop claiming that the Food Bank is a supporter of their work. The Food Bank strongly and clearly informed the Trappers that they want nothing to do with their pro-trapping advocacy.  I printed the letter here on the blog.

Fourth, to a minor point raised here by a commenter yesterday: when an advocacy group uses photos on its website and social media accounts for political activity, those photos may be fairly used by opponents, just as Steve Daines uses photos from the John Walsh website, or vice versa.

pet injured by trapFifth, let’s all remember the central point: the type of trapping advocated by pro-trapping groups, and which I-169 would make illegal, is a horrid practice which results in the animal’s leg being crushed and the creature left to lie in agony for days before dying.  It is cruel and barbaric.  And yes, such traps also frequently ensnare and torture animals such as dogs as well as endangered species such as lynx, despite the idiotic protestations by certain commenters here who apparently believe that dogs don’t get caught in animal traps.  Here is a sad story from Missoula about a man’s dog. 

injured animalAnd no, the fault does not lie, as Dave Skinner and others are saying lately on this blog, with dog owners for wanting to give their pet the ability to run around in the woods while the owner hikes along.   The woods should be trap free, by law.

Trapped bobcatAnd finally, it is not a defense to trapping to say that it “is a Montana heritage.”  Hunting is an age old practice and is a heritage, but it has merit and is actually a more humane way to get meat than by going to the grocery store, where we buy carcasses of animals who lived short and miserable lives in a factory setting.  On the other hand, trappers trap to make money or collect pelts as entertainment.  Given what the animal must endure, that’s not a sufficient justification.

Finally, many of you will be encouraged to know that each year this anti-trapping effort builds new momentum and two years from now this same ballot measure–which had a volunteer-driven signature gathering effort in 2014–is expected to be back again with strong, carefully-crafted and vetted language, and more funding. Let’s hope that it eventually prevails.

I encourage you to check out Footloose Montana and Trap Free Montana Public Lands to learn more and support the work these organizations do.


44 Comments on "More on Trapping"


    Why aren’t we shouting to the heavens about this? Oh yeah, because it won’t help any Democrats get votes. It would also imply that we cared about animals. Well, if they’re cute and cuddly we can care about them, but if they’re not part of nature and just in our food supply…eh, not so much.

    I can’t imagine what those animals are forced to endure. But who are we kidding? It’s not a political issue in Montana that could help Democrats, so who cares? Certainly none of the many hypocrites on this site.

    • Respectfully Greg, This article also doesn’t address greyhound racing, the drugging and treatment of animals at Sea World, dolphin hunting, or poaching of African elephants either. That doesn’t mean that people who support a ballot initiative to ban trapping are “hypocrites.”

      Ballot initiatives are for single subjects. You can’t have a ballot initiative that addresses 85 different causes, even if all of these causes are important and have merit. I’m having a difficult time understanding your argument, which appears to be, if there are other worthy causes out there, people supporting any cause are bad.

      • If someone has a right to have an abortion, why can’t they kill an animal in the woods?

        We accept one but we don’t accept the other. Why is that?

        • Greg, I understand you to be an educated man. Given that, you should recognize a false equivalence fallacy when you write one. There is no answer to your question because it is fundamentally flawed.

          No one has a “right” to an abortion. What they (we) do have is a right to privately make medical decisions in concert with our doctors, abortion included. Similarly, no one has a “right” to kill animals in the woods. What we have is a legal permission (license) to kill certain animals at proscribed times in proscribed manners for proscribed reasons, all as regulated by law. The problem many have with trapping is that it is indiscriminate as to the animals trapped and difficult to near impossible to regulate in a safe and sane manner. That makes trapping in current times a great example of *bad* law.

          If you want to ponce around calling people hypocrites, you should at least show evidence that you have the first clue what you’re talking about.

          • You’re throwing the same arguments anti-abortion folks are throwing. At its root, it’s the same philosophical issue, but you can’t use the same reasoning to justify it. This bothers you.

            It’s a real simple question: why can women have an abortion, but they can’t go out and put a trap in the woods? Why is the former alright but the latter is a sin to you?

            Why are some issues chosen as acceptable while others aren’t?

            • When a trapper litters the woods with hidden traps, he forces others to participate in his activity when they find wretchedly injured wildlife or have to deal with their own dog being harmed. That is how trapping is not accepatable.

            • You’re throwing the same arguments anti-abortion folks are throwing. At its root, it’s the same philosophical issue, but you can’t use the same reasoning to justify it.

              Greg, it is my opinion that you aren’t smart enough to do anything save bluster, but here’s your opportunity, smart guy. At no point did I use an argument that “anti-abortion folks” use, but we’ll forget that point of mis comprehension of your trolling. Lets just go to the meat and taters, shall we?

              You claim that trapping and abortion are the same philosophical issue. Here’s your chance to tell us why, sophist. What is the same about them? Are they “rights” as you posited? What is the philosophical foundation for either? Do tell, oh sage.

              Your loaded question is not simple. I actually know the philosophical underpinnings of morality, and you are a child regarding such things. I’ve studied biology and you seem vaguely informed of rhetoric. So here’s your golden opportunity, Greg. Do inform us all of the philosophical similarity between abortion and trapping.

              • “So you Democrats will let a woman kill her unborn child but you won’t let her put a trap out in the woods. Why do you folks care more about animals than people?”

                That’s the kind of comment I’d expect from a Republican if I was knocking on his door, at least in any of the non-urban areas of the state. And what am I supposed to say to that? There’s nothing I can say – he’s already made up his mind and there’s another vote for the GOP.

                This is why I think it’s a real philosophical issue at its core, and gets right down to the roots of the Democratic Party today, and that’s that we allow some things but not others. And to push it further, if you don’t toe that line exactly then you’re not a true party member.

                This is startling. In regards to trapping I find it especially bad because it turns leaning Democratic voters into Republican voters. It also sends up warning signals to middle of the road Democrats. They’ve already got enough reasons nationally to jump ticket in the next election or two, we don’t need to give them more.

                In regard to the anti-trapping folks, I don’t care. They’re not going to vote Republican anymore than those gay voters Schweitzer may or may not have offended a few weeks back are. We call this the base for a reason – because it doesn’t go anywhere. At worse it stays home or votes independent.

                It’s those rural counties with aging populations and whose kids are leaving for the urban centers or out of state areas that concern me the most. Most Democrats have written those areas off, it’s clear from many of their policies and recalcitrance to compromise, and also the money raise in some of those races. Issues like this just make it so people don’t want to come to the bargaining table at all.

                I’ve said this trapping issue is hypocritical because I know that Republican at the door comparing to abortion will see it that way. And I know that’s another vote for them and not for us and another cycle of hoping and wishing and dreaming for the things we want instead of making them happen.

                But like someone said, I lost my race so what do I know.

                • Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers | July 6, 2014 11:08 PM at 11:08 PM |

                  “But like someone said, I lost my race so what do I know.”

                  Shit perhaps? Oh wait. Sorry, you don’t! Good Lord you’re a retard dude!

                • Greg, you are making the same consistent mistake, confusing behavior for issues, and vice-versa. You are somewhat correct about a few things. No voter who asks the difference between Democrats killing unborn babies and trapping will ever vote Democratic. Ever. In fact, you can stop right the point of Democrats killing unborn babies.

                  I defy you to show me even one example of a “Democrat leaning voter” who will vote Republicant based on the issue of trapping (save maybe yourself, of course.) This is where you get all befuddled. If someone is prone to voting for a D, they aren’t going to suddenly vote R because the Ds don’t like trapping. This is so far down the issue list that it’s not funny at all. What shouldn’t be down that list is the misuse of government equipment, which is what this post was about. That’s the answer to your question, Greg. But no, you got stuck on a stupid fallacy that somehow you dream Democrats should be afraid of.

                  If you really it’s worthwhile for Democrats to hide from every issue that might electorally hurt them, then they (you) shouldn’t be running as Democrats in the first place. That’s what keeps the Democratic base away from the polls, not some bullshit false-equivalence. And if you think it proper to get elected on lies so that “we” can do what we *really* want once elected, then I congratulate you for completely shitting on the idea of ‘representative government’. Maybe, just maybe, that’s why you experienced the political outcome you have.

                  For the record, you still have your opportunity to get to the “philosophical issue” at the “core” of this discussion. So far, you’ve failed quite spectacularly.

                  • Well shoot! I guess you really showed me.

                    • No Greg. On June 3rd, you showed us. As an aspiring politician and political writer, you can answer complaints, challenges and differences by discussing issues and philosophies. Orrrr … you can petulantly run away thinking that world is being mean to you because you haven’t swayed them with the mere presence of what bad logic you have at your disposal. In short, you can act like a TEApeep. If you are going to argue like an idiot, quit blaming others for noticing what is right in front of them.

                      Now, if you’d like to act like an adult here, let me ask you this. When that crusty old farmer from Broadus answers the door and asks:

                      “So you Democrats will let a woman kill her unborn child but you won’t let her put a trap out in the woods. Why do you folks care more about animals than people?”

                      How would you answer? That is other than, “Well shoot! I guess you really showed me.”?

  2. One thing I’m having a hard time understanding is this. How is it (if its even true) that a state agency can co-own equipment with those it is supposed to be regulating? What if the state’s insurance regulator, the Montana Commissioner of Insurance, co-owned a vehicle with Blue Cross, emblazened with the state agency’s logo, then allowed Blue Cross to drive it around the state using it to imply state support for whatever the insurance company was doing.

    Something smells here and the FWP needs to explain itself – if any of what the trappers say is even true, of course. Clearly though the pictures show him using the trailer, so someone gave it to him.

    • Thank you. This really isn’t about trapping.

    • There’s hunter education rigs all over the place, shared by FWP and various sportsman groups. Oh, now THOSE are evil == or will be as soon as the trappers are blown out. Incremental strategy ya know.
      But I have to point out the anti-trappers failed AGAIN to get the signatures they needed. And I have to wonder about what will happen if this comes to a popular vote, and loses as I hope it will (Montana voters can be sort of unpredictable). If the no-trap people lose an actual vote, what then?

  3. Well written response. Trapping is an inherently cruel practice and it must be banned on public lands and heavily regulated elsewhere. Thanks for taking up this battle and fighting for what’s right.

  4. Odd, that in the last 2 trapping posts there is no mention of The Wildlife Society position.

  5. Cowgirl, you chastise Dave Skinner but you failed to mention the position of FWP regarding animal owners which reflects what DS wrote.

    ” In the 2008-09 and 2009-10 trapping seasons, FWP
    documented four repor ts (three on public land, one
    on private land) of dog mortalities in traps across the
    entire state. Three of the dogs were “at large” (roaming
    without their owners nearby) and another was
    roughly one mile away from its owner. Responsibility
    also rests with the dog owner to not allow the pet to
    range out of the owner’s control or to run at large.”

    • Drunks for Denny | July 6, 2014 11:49 AM at 11:49 AM |

      I agree with Craig. While I respect the position of people who believe trapping of wild animals is inhumane and cruel (my wife is one of them), I am on the mindset of those who believe it is part of our heritage.

      The whole dog thing, though, is a whole lot of hooey. If you can’t control your dog through voice commands, your dog shouldn’t be running amok in the woods. It should be left at home or on a leash.

      • Just a reminder that slavery is part of “our heritage”.

        • How’s that long range shooting of yours coming along, Rob?

          • Better than you might think. Much better than I thought. Apropos of nothing, how fat are you? …

          • Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers | July 6, 2014 10:40 PM at 10:40 PM |

            Um, Davey, how come you weren’t down there at Cliven Scumby’s mormon uprising at Bungholeville, Nev with sgt. payne’s pansie division???? Tell the folks on the forum what happened when you inbreds tried that here in Montana. Don’t lie now, for I know what happened! Remember?

            • Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers | July 7, 2014 7:14 AM at 7:14 AM |

              Yipee! The inbreds are gonna finally get our country back for us! Too funny. Davey, why don’t you and payne’s pansies head on down and join the revolution!


            • Well, at least they got more attention than your left wing militia squad. You got way too much of a pass on that one, Krotj.

  6. drunks for denny: if something is cruel and inhumane, a state is probably better off not trumpeting it as “part of our heritage.”

  7. OK, so let me get this straight- It’s fine to use state-owned stuff for private purposes as long as [someone, please fill in the blank].

  8. Publicly available, publicly accessible wireless networks for use by the public, you mean Craig? Sigh.

  9. Jeff, point out any exception for using state property for political purposes. I await your response.

    • surelyyoujest11 | July 8, 2014 9:40 AM at 9:40 AM |

      Craig, point out any factual “proof” that your accusation against the blog owner has any merit whatsoever. I await your response.

      • As G0uras wrote: “The Department of Administration, provided with detail on the IP address of some posts, was able to identify that the blogger had been accessing — all day long at times — the state wireless guest system through a hookup in the Office of Public Instruction using an Apple Macintosh laptop.”

        Now if you wish to call Gouras a liar for writing the charge, be careful.

        • Craig, anyone who enters a state building and has their device set to autoconnect will connect to that wireless network. Period. My company has several contracts with the state and I can tell you that most state buildings didn’t require that someone click a button to affirmatively connect until late 2013. You haven’t proven anything other than that someone Gouras claims is the blogger -and note that Gouras doesn’t prove anywhere that he has identified the blogger– has entered a state building.

          • And as a contractor, there is no law preventing me from emailing anyone on any topic or from visiting any websites I choose in the state wireless- including my personal email, Facebook, Tumblr, blogs, or other networks. On fact, the reason for the state wireless guest network being open to the public, free, and accessible to anyone is to allow members of the public and contractors to access the internet without getting on to the secure connections the state has for official work , so that the security of these networks is less prone to viruses etc.

        • surelyyoujest11 | July 8, 2014 1:50 PM at 1:50 PM |

          Fact-averse much Craig? What Gouras wrote is not proof of what you are claiming.

  10. More speculation. How about writing about something that actually occurred? I also think you better review the laws on personal pictures….a bit different than political public photos.

    • Helena Attorney | July 8, 2014 9:01 PM at 9:01 PM |

      Harold-sorry to say, Cowgirl is on solid ground here. In the course of a political or otherwise public debate, such a use of photographs from an interest group’s website is perfectly okay. Court’s have made this very clear. Cowgirl is here fully protected from a claim of copyright infringement.

  11. Wow. given that its 2014 I didn’t think i’d encounter many more people who thought that photos that they post on their wide open Facebook page won’t be seen by anyone. You’ve got the facts wrong Harold Johnson. And the law, and how the 21st century works.

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