Trapping Should Have Been Outlawed Years Ago: I-177 – a public land safe zone, is a small step in the right direction

It’s time for Montana to acknowledge that the horrid practice which results in the animal’s leg being crushed and the creature left to lie in agony for days before dying is cruel and barbaric.  And yes, such traps also frequently ensnare and torture animals such as dogs as well as endangered species such as bald eagles lynx, despite the idiotic protestations we hear from those who believe the torture of animals is an enjoyable pastime.


I-177 will protect public lands from this practice and make them safer for all people to enjoy, including people who like to take their pet with them to enjoy public lands.  You should be able to take your dog cross country skiing with you without worrying about traps.  Here is a sad story from Missoula about a man’s dog.   Trapping needs to be banned entirely.  It is long past time this practice was ended for good.  This ballot initiative is a small and reasonable first step.

Consider that the largest individual donor to the Montana Trappers anti I-177 campaign is  none other than Greg Gianforte, who has so far given the pro-trapping effort $10,000.  He is also a lifetime member of the Montana Trappers Association and claims he ran a trap line with his daughter.  (What kid wouldn’t love coming a cross an animal desperately trying to chew its own leg off to escape a trap its been caught in for three days.  Can’t somebody nominate this guy for father of the year?)

The pro-trapping effort is also supported by none other than Montana’s white supremacist candidate Taylor Rose, who has made his support for trapping the cover photo on his Facebook Page.

Cover photo on white supremacist candidate Taylor Rose's Facebook page.

Cover photo on white supremacist candidate Taylor Rose’s Facebook page.

There is significant out-of-state funding being directed to the trappers as well, in spite of shoddy reporting in the Lee Newspapers that reports the exact opposite of the facts. In the most recent Billings Gazette story by Jamee Frasier who writes “Out-of-state funding, primarily against the measure, has drawn scrutiny.”  In fact, a simple look at the data shows the exact opposite is true. Perhaps they weren’t aware that campaign finance reports are posted online.

The PAC against I-177 has taken 27% of its funding from out-of-state sources.  These out-of-state sources include large groups such as the Ohio Trappers Association and Big Game Forever (based in UT).  The I-177 Ballot Initiative Committee has received 5.6% of its funding from out-of-state sources.  These monies are from individuals who live in other states.   Somewhat embarrassing for Lee is that these data were published in the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, one of Montana’s last bastions of investigative journalism,  over three weeks ago..

One would expect organizations that include fostering healthy wildlife among their objectives to be in support of  I-177 to end trapping on public lands. Unfortunately, it seems some such groups have declined to publicly endorse the initiative while at the same time reportedly telling 1-177 supporters they  believe it is time to end trapping on public land.

To be sure, some of them may still be clinging to a 1970s era belief that Montanans think that conservationists and trappers have some kind of symbiotic coalition and if Montanan’s stop turning a blind eye to this gruesome hobby that hunters and anglers will no longer want clean air and water. Nonsense.

Some of these more naive organizations may also be afraid to endorse this common sense initiative because Senator Jennifer Fielder, a trapper, who is married to Paul Fielder, District 1 Director for the Montana Trappers Association and one of the louder voices against the measure.

Taylor Rose (left) with MTGOP Vice-Chair and American Lands Council CEO Jennifer Fielder

Taylor Rose (left) with MTGOP Vice-Chair and American Lands Council CEO Jennifer Fielder

Senator Jennifer Fielder (R-TEA Sanders County) CEO of American Lands Council, sits on the Montana Senate Committee which controls Montana Fish and Game.

On that committee as well is Senator Jedediah Hinkle (R-Tea Party, Rated 100% by Americans for Prosperity, 8% by Montana Audubon, and 0% by Montana
Environmental Information Center). Senator Fielder was the sponsor of SB 334 which attempted to enshrine new protections for trapping and would have allowed unlimited trapping of a larger list of animals and without a permit.  Senator Fielder was also major proponent of HB 212 which sought to insert the word “trapping” into our Constitution as a protected right, even as constitutional changes are supposed to be voted upon by citizens.
The Senate Fish and Game Committee has perhaps the greatest say over wildlife and out-door recreation bills,  and legislation that impacts the MT Fish Wildlife and Parks.
One sometimes sees well-meaning groups fail to speak up for issues they believe in, hoping that they will earn some kind of points in such committees in the legislature, even though of course that isn’t how negotiation works. One doesn’t give something up, in this case, by remaining quiet on such a basic issue, in hopes of magically getting something in return.

20 Comments on "Trapping Should Have Been Outlawed Years Ago: I-177 – a public land safe zone, is a small step in the right direction"

  1. I was a trapper back in the early 60s. I was 15, and didn’t have adequate food or clothing. I used the $ from trapping to buy school clothes and food. Even then I knew better. I trapped a lot of muskrats, those were all drowning sets where the animal didn’t suffer. I also trapped a lot of mink, there was a good money in both of those animals. For a couple weeks in the fall I made more money than my father who had a full time job. For mink too, it was always a drowning set. Occasionally on very small streams a mink would be left alive because the water just wasn’t deep enough to drown the animal, I hated that the animal suffered like that. These days, I don’t trap, I won’t trap, I am not in need and I’m not going to trap just for some sense of fun or sport or whatever it is that motivates others. Trapping coyotes, foxes, wolves and big cats in sets that leave the animal to suffer is just cruel and inhumane. I am completely opposed to that kind of trapping under any circumstance.

    Otters are such playful, beautiful, and graceful animals, No one should ever be killing one of those creatures for any reason. I voted Saturday, voted for I-177 and felt good about it, it’s past time to end trapping as mush as possible.

  2. Your link to campaign finance reports isn’t working.

  3. Trappers often say that trapping is a Montanan’s heritage. That doesn’t make it tolerable. Slavery was the heritage of
    The Deep South but that doesn’t mean it was moral. Trapping’s days are over!

  4. Vote no on I-177!

  5. Daytime recreation areas and trapping are a damn dangerous mix.
    Three decades ago i got to know some guys who with traps moved into Montana to trap along a publicly accessed river, some other to trap a well known stream to the North.
    A decade before that i was darn lucky to see big beaver on the Bitterroot River. And work a bit with a guy protecting Otter.
    A decade before and up to now, I count as a friend a guy who has done the trapping on the same ranch for longer than I’ve known him.
    I’m for letting kids observe Martin and Mink along our streams and rivers. And some mature beaver.

  6. I find it difficult to figure out why Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation made such a large donation to the trappers when Senator Jennifer Fielder is the leading voice for the ALC and the public-lands takeover movement in Montana. Where will the hunters hunt if public lands are no longer public

  7. I think you are sensationalizing and using emotional hyperbole to make your case. Moreover calling trapping torture makes the actual crime of real torture, a heinous crime that still exists in the world today, seem less terrible.

    The alternative to trapping is poison, a much less selective method of culling as anyone who has had unwanted mice in the house is well aware. Similar to mice I keep my dog away from the pantry when I set traps for mice and I don’t take my dog with me into places where it might disturb or harm wildlife. The reasons to support trapping are no different than the reasons to support mouse traps.

    The elimination of trapping would eliminate one more very useful tool in the wildlife biologist’s tool kit, and at a time when we have introduced predators that are able to double in population in two years.

    If trapping is supported by white supremacists that doesn’t make trappers to be right wing racists anymore than the support of anti trapping by the Animal Liberation Front makes anti trappers to be terrorists. Let’s lose the guilt by association and stick to journalism.

  8. Som Sai, you summarized what I was feeling very well. Typically I agree with most of what is said in these blogs, but this time that is not the case.

    I was offended by the generalizations. Because I don’t support this initiative I support Greg Gianforte and the take over of public lands? And, to top it all off, I’m a racist.

    I’m opposed to outlawing trapping on public lands. It creates a very slippery slope. I was bit by a dog while hiking on a public trail (and I’m sure other have been as well), should we outlaw pets on public land? And where is the outcry for catch and release fishing? Is this practice not traumatic for the fish?

    If we start with trapping, what’s next?

  9. No state that has banned traps has banned hunting or fishing. There is NO slippery slope. I hope Montanans will vote on the merits of this measure- banning traps on public land to stop the cruelty, the indiscriminate harm that results in injuries to dogs and people and non-intended wildlife and the exploitation of the public’s wildlife to turn a private profit.

  10. “The elimination of trapping would eliminate one more very useful tool in the wildlife biologist’s tool kit, and at a time when we have introduced predators that are able to double in population in two years. ”

    Such as?

    I think nature will balance things out pretty quickly if trapping is eliminated.

  11. I’m an avid backcountry elk hunter who thinks trapping on America’s public lands is disgusting and I wholeheartedly support I-177. I think this post makes a lot of great points and I thank the MTCowgirl for sharing it with your readers and advocating so strongly on this issue, as this blog has done a few times.

    I do have to wonder, however, why you choose to just focus on the GOP folks that are opposing I-177. Are there any Montana Dem Party politicians or candidates that are supporting I-177 and making it a campaign issue? If not, why?

    Also, with so many Dem Party ‘sportsmen’s” groups and public lands or conservation groups engaged in Montana politics, campaigning and GOTV efforts, have any of those public lands or “sportsmen’s” groups offered their support for I-177? If not, why?

    And we also see some of these same Dem Party “sportsmen’s” groups and public lands/conservation groups elevate the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation to near iconic status when the Elk Foundation supports ‘collaborative’ logging plans or comes out against some crazy federal bill from the GOP. But in this case, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is one of the largest supporters of I-177, with their (former NASCAR) leader David Allen going all scaredy cat and spreading outright lies about I-177 and the folks supporting this common-sense bill. Shouldn’t this blog hold RMEF accountable for their support of I-177 while lamenting the fact that none of the Dem Party groups are remaining silent?

  12. Here’s an interesting social media post from one of the leaders of Montana Trap-Free Public Lands. Interesting, eh? Pay particular attention to the misunderstanding and misrepresentation of I-177 by the Montana Wildlife Federation, as well as the fact that one of the main opponents of I-177 is Jennifer Fielder’s husband Paul Fielder. Remember, in Montana many of the big groups that have “wildlife” or “wilderness” in their names actually take positions that are anti-wildlife, anti-wilderness and end up hurting America’s public lands legacy in the long run.



    To the Montana Wildlife Federation,

    I am writing to correct your extensive misunderstanding and misrepresentation of I-177.

    Nowhere does the Montana Trap-Free Public Lands I-177 support the transfer of public lands. In fact the sponsors of I-177 strongly oppose such a transfer. However, your open opposition to I-177 puts you into alignment with those touting the sale of public lands and the agenda of the American Lands Council. Jennifer Fielder’s husband Paul Fielder, is the lead opposition to I-177 and the Montana Trappers’ Association’s liaison to FWP. As you know, Jennifer Fielder is the CEO of the American Lands Council, the mission of which is solely to transfer public lands to the state. The Fielders work together on this mission and have worked on bills to undercut FWP in the last legislative session. You are playing into the hands of private lands proponents, closing of public lands to hunting and fishing, and closing down stream access.

    Does this mean you are now for the transfer of public lands? You are saying two things here. Which one is correct?

    Also, as you know, I-177 would have no more authority over public lands than other state restrictions, such as hunting regulations. It is a longstanding agreement between the state and the federal government that the state guides public lands use. Your claim that I-177 is any different is disingenuous at best.

    I-177 does not ban trapping. Trapping to protect health and safety, livestock and property, and for research and wildlife management activities will continue. Recreational and commercial trapping will be restricted to private lands the size of Wyoming. You are well aware of fair chase ethics, and the fact that trapping adheres to none of them. It is impossible to monitor or enforce regulations on tens of thousands of hidden traps. This is not hunting.

    Please explain your motives for misrepresenting I-177. Your members deserve to know the truth.

    Connie Poten
    Sec., Montana Trap-Free Public Lands

    • I appreciate this information. You and I have had our differences in the past, Matt, but to learn that MWF supports trapping is extremely disappointing. I certainly won’t support this organization in the future.

      • Hi Pete. Thanks. Always happy to share some information with people. My offer to have coffee with you still stands. Maybe if we do that I could hear specifically what public lands and wildlife policy positions of the WildWest Institute you oppose. Cheers.

        • I’m pretty sure I don’t oppose WildWest Institute policies. It’s the critiques of certain candidates and office holders that got under my skin. Yeah, after the election, let’s grab a coffee — maybe even a beer.

          • Fair enough. FWIW, it gets under my skin that I have to critique the public lands, wildlife, wilderness and public process policy positions of certain candidates and office holders.

      • Agreed. Thank you both.

  13. The “alternative” to trapping is poison” …The use of traps and poison is prohibited under Montana Cities’ Animal Cruelty provisions. Trapping is not a “tool in wildlife biologists’ toolbox” but an indiscriminate and cruel practice that even commercializes wildlife. If passed into law, the Montana Trap-Free Public Lands initiative (I-177) will end recreational and commercial trapping on public lands, while trapping on private lands can continue. I-177 has exceptions that allow specific trapping to protect human health & safety, property and livestock. It is a common-sense and humane approach to living with wildlife, that allows safe recreational use of lands owned by the public. YES on I-177!

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