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Trap-free public lands initiative ready for signature gathering


A new initiative, I-169, by Trap Free Montana Public Lands, has been approved by the Attorney General’s office for signature gathering. If I-169 qualifies with 24,175 signatures, Montanans can vote in November’s general election to achieve trap free public lands, which comprise about 35 percent of Montana land.
“Many Montanans want trap free public lands for their safe use, for their companion animals, for treatment of wildlife consistent with the principles of ethical hunting, to restore beaver ponds increasing riparian habitat, trout habitat, big game browse and natural fire breaks, to increase the wildlife and rare species we value and which many people come to see adding a further sustaining boast to our economy,” says KC York, chairman of Trap Free Montana Public Lands.
“I-169 only affects trapping and only on public lands,” says York. “According to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, nearly 65% of the state is held in private ownership. The rights of the private land owner, as well as hunting and fishing rights, remain protected. There are exceptions for trapping on public land for public health and safety, scientific research, migratory bird propagation, falconry, relocation, medical treatment or if the nuisance and conflict animal problem has not been or cannot be abated by reasonable nonlethal methods. Rodents, other than beaver and muskrat, can continue to be trapped. Our initiative is fair, reasonable and good for Montana.”
Rancher Steve Clevidence, endorsing the initiative, says, “I happen to be a member of a seven generation Montana ranching family. I extend my endorsement to Trap Free Montana Public Land’s initiative, as I and my family feel that even though trapping may have once been part of our state’s history, it does not need to be a part of Montana’s future. Our public lands are just that, public lands and therefore every citizen has as much right to use those lands in relative safety without fear of traps and snares strewn across the landscape waiting for unsuspecting victims. Trapping needs to be recognized as cruel and unethical treatment of animals and should be abolished on our Montana public lands.”
A similar initiative campaign in 2009/2010 came within 1,500 signatures of qualifying for the ballot. “Four years have past and Montanans have grown increasingly aware of the indiscriminate cruelty of trapping,” says York. “Based on Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks furbearer average harvest reports, a minimum of 180,000 animals have been killed by traps. In addition, an increasing number of companion animals are getting trapped on public lands. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks stated the 50 plus dogs that were reported trapped last year is not unusual. Two of the dogs were killed.”
Trap Free Montana Public Lands is a grassroots organization of Montana’s citizens. The group is relying on Montanans to collect signatures and asks that people visit the website to get petitions and for ways to help: and on Facebook at
“There are many reasons to support this ballot initiative, you only need one!” says York.

11 Responses to Trap-free public lands initiative ready for signature gathering
  1. Harold Johnson
    April 19, 2014 | 12:44 am

    KC, do you know the total population of furbearers in the state? Many of those trapped animals are problem muskrats, coyotes, and beaver that are causing problems. Of those supposed 45,000, how many are caught on private land? If you are so intent on public land issues, why not get the correct figures? Regardless, I know of no trapper that targets dogs or nontarget animals. The very few caught shows that most trappers are very careful and respectful of others using the same public land. We here are currently going through calving season and I know of several producers who are experiencing calf losses due to coyotes. Do they need to call the government and use planes to control the problem? A much easier solution is to allow local people to control the coyotes and no tax dollars are used. Beavers are a continuing problem here and they can be removed by trappers at no cost. Yet we still have ample coyotes and beavers. It makes no sense to destroy a way of life that is so beneficial to so many. As far as cruelty issues go, trapping done correctly either dispatches the animal humanly or holds the animal until the trapper returns. You like to poke holes in the regulations, but trapping is highly regulated by the fish and game.

  2. b meyer
    March 19, 2014 | 6:37 pm

    I live in wyoming and 4 years ago my dog smokey was caught in a snare.. I couldn\’t get it off of him before he quit breathing. I had to cut the snare with bolt cutters I had in my truck. I gave him doggy cpr and he started breathing again. Lucky dog.. now let\’s get to my point…I am a trapper and I enjoy my time spent trapping during the season.. leave your dogs at home during the trapping season or walk them in town. Trappers have a right to public land also. And we only use it for trapping for about 3 months or so.. all of the dog walkers got it for the other 9 months.. if you take a dog into a known trapping area during the season and he gets caught …..its your fault not the trapper..I\’ve had it happen to me and I\’m just glad my dog didn\’t die..

  3. som sai
    March 11, 2014 | 5:36 pm

    I’ve never trapped and I probably never will, but I fully support trappers as valuable contributors to conservation. As a generalization I’ve never met a more knowledgeable group of woods folks than trappers. We need more of them.

  4. mike
    March 11, 2014 | 6:11 am

    Hunters reading this. If you let this happen in Montana hunting will be targeted next. The animal rights activists are not going to stop. Ranching will be targeted along with commercial farming

  5. Mike
    March 11, 2014 | 2:18 am

    If you think the people behind this are ok with your dirtbike, atv, snowmobile or camping or firewood cutting etc on public land you’re kidding yourself. These are the exact same people trying to shut down roads and make more areas “wilderness”, if you use public land you need to stand against this or they will divide and conquer us until the public cannot use public land.

  6. Ks2014
    March 10, 2014 | 11:50 pm

    \\\”Our public lands are just that, public lands and therefore every citizen has as much right to use those lands…..\\\”Except trappers I suppose…what a shame.

  7. Mike in Stevensville
    March 10, 2014 | 9:43 pm

    April, if you’re so worried about public safety issues and cruelty, then you should petition for a law forbidding automobiles from hitting wildlife. Nothing crueler than being smashed by a car and left to die on the side of a road.

  8. Robert Wood
    March 10, 2014 | 7:43 pm

    KC, sense many trappers are taking muskrats that can have very detrimental impacts on ponds and irrigation ditches, it makes your numbers nonsensical. If each trapper (4000) caught 10 muskrats, there\’s your 40,000 animals. Some trappers catch a lot more than 10, and it takes that every year to keep them at bay. There is no other means to control those population numbers. Disease is the next step. You supporting that?

  9. Jason Maxwell
    March 7, 2014 | 4:25 pm

    All wildlife management needs to be based on sound science, not on public opinion. Decisions that directly affect the management of wildlife and wildlife habitat are too important to be made at the ballot box; they need to be made based on sound science, not on emotion. Science has shown again and again that the use of traps is a viable, safe and necessary means of managing certain wildlife.
    The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies calls trapping good for conservation and for sustaining wildlife health and diversity

  10. KC York
    March 7, 2014 | 2:00 pm

    Thank you for running a press release regarding the Trap Free Montana Public Lands ballot initiative. Please note the FWP reported 180,000 animals is the from only the last 5 years Furbearer Harvest Reports. On average that amounts to 45,000 reported animals trapped per year. Note, too, no record exists for 2004!

  11. Mike in Stevensville
    March 7, 2014 | 12:28 am

    Well, Discrimination rears it’s ugly head. Selective parts of the “public” want to make it illegal for other sections of the “public” they don’t like to use PUBLIC land LEGALLY. SHAME!

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