Unlike hunting, with specified bag limits and seasons, most trappers may trap all year long and kill as much wildlife as they wish. Only four furbearer species (bobcat, fisher, river otter, swift fox) are subject to quotas and every animal in Montana, even an endangered species, can be killed 365 days a year as a non-target trapped animal.
WHY WE BELIEVE IN TRAP-FREE PUBLIC LANDS
Every year family pets needlessly die in traps; many other are injured or maimed. Watch the Footloose Montana Public Service Announcement “Don’t let this happen to your dog!” on YouTube.
See what Charles Darwin wrote in 1863 in his “Trapping Agony” letter. Not much has changed since then…however, most people think fur trapping ended with the mountain man, or the anti-fur movement of the Seventies. But it didn’t. That mythical trapper living alone in a cabin, scratching a living off the land? According to statistics, he probably has a full-time job and, when expenses are figured in, doesn’t make a dime off of trapping. In the United States, trapping is an overwhelmingly recreational activity, meaning animals—including, every year, family pets—suffer for fun. Meanwhile, the pelts a trapper does sell are used for status symbol clothing, not for survival. As other countries gain wealth, they also embrace fur garments as status symbols, and are driving fur prices higher and encouraging trappers to deploy more traps than ever on Montana’s public lands.
Trapping is a poorly understood activity in Montana—and trapping organizations would like to keep it that way. They don’t want the public to know they’re out there, or just how prevalent they are. We want you to be aware:
- While hunters, anglers, backcountry skiers, hikers, rafters and other recreation groups have fought hard to conserve our state’s bounty of natural resources, trapping is a strictly consumptive use. Trappers take what they want and give nothing back to the public resource. There are no Rocky Mountain Bobcat Foundations, no Beaver Unlimited, no Foxes Forever, and no trapping organizations helping to conserve our wildlife or its habitat. In fact, in the case of species considered “sensitive” by the U.S. Forest Service, like wolverines and fishers, trappers are fighting to maintain their consumptive use—even as they push the species toward extinction.
- Misleading information abounds. Despite repeated requests from citizens, Montana FWP has been unable to regulate trappers beyond the few rules and recommendations currently on the books–which bodes poorly for those seeking more protection for recreation on public lands. In the past decade, Montana citizens have made several attempts to require trap check times or increase setbacks from public recreation areas. These have all been dismissed by Fish, Wildlife & Parks commissioners and pro-trapping legislators in the state legislature. In any case, regulations on trapping are likely poorly enforced due to the hidden nature and sheer numbers of traps on our public lands.
- Because trappers wrote the trapping regulations, they are skewed in favor of trappers, and data offered by either FWP or the Montana Trappers Association to the public is often scant or unreliable.
- FWP will warn the public about traps in an area only after a pet death or accident has already occurred—even in highly popular recreation areas.
- Except for a few intermittent "track surveys," FWP relies entirely on trappers to voluntarily submit trapping results. In many cases, voluntary trapper surveys are the only data FWP has for furbearer populations. This hurts our wildlife's fight for survival. For instance, at the same time that trapping for wolverine continues independent wildlife biologists confirm that populations of wolverine have fallen below sustainable numbers. Not only does our wildlife live by their wits in harsh, unforgiving circumstances, but they are also further, unnecessarily challenged to endure long, painful deaths in recreational traps. Those that chew off their feet or wring off entire limbs to escape in panic rarely survive.
- FWP claims recreational and commercial trapping is a management tool needed to control predator populations. No facts support this assertion. Colorado limited trapping on public lands in 1996, and in the eight years afterward, livestock losses to predators dropped 62%! Coyotes have been shot and trapped for the past century, and their numbers haven't changed. That's because, like many other species, they self-regulate their populations. The more that are trapped, the more they reproduce.
- Trapping is a torturous activity of few that has no place in a modern world in which an increasing number of species are struggling for survival.
“I’m sure it was a very painful episode.”