The Montana State Constitution already protects hunting and fishing. What House Bill 212 and Senate Bill 334 aim to do is include trapping by changing some definitions of game animals.
These bills were created by national trapping organizations and are being introduced into a number of state legislative sessions this year in an attempt to make it difficult to ban trapping on public lands. And even though both bills have passed thus far, the votes were close.
Given that trapping involves neither “fair chase” nor always actually the killing of targeted animals, most hunters and anglers I know do not like being lumped in with trappers. While hunters and anglers can be fined if they kill the wrong animals, trappers are left to self-report and do not get even a slap on the wrist for “accidentally” killing non-targeted animals, including endangered species and people’s pets. I say “accidentally” because traps kill and maim indiscriminately, but those deaths are as accidental as a drunk driver killing another person.
I urge Governor Bullock to veto these bills if they pass. I would rather Montana continue marching into the 21st century instead of turning back to a more barbaric time. Most tourists come to Montana to see our living wildlife and most Montanans I know are sick of trapping. Why should trappers be given special rights that mountain bikers, skiers, hikers, rafters, and the like, do not get?