Despite claims to the contrary, trapping is a form of recreation for profit, not wildlife management. Recreation also includes such things as hiking, backpacking, horseback riding, skiing, rafting, etc. Why some individuals consider torturing and maiming animals, then killing them for a few bucks as recreation is beyond me. I don’t see animal abuse as a sport, but then, that’s just me. Or is it? About 99.6 percent of Montanans don’t trap, so possibly I’m not so odd after all.
Some insist those opposed to trapping want to “hog public lands” and stop trappers from enjoying their pastime. Outdoor recreation is great, unless your activity negatively affects everyone else. In this case, a few thousand trappers statewide affect other outdoor users with unattended trapping devices. To me, that’s a problem: traps negatively affecting too many other recreationists!
Then there’s the claim that trapping is highly regulated. Really? With no limit to how many traps they can set and no mandatory trap check time, the number of traps simply depends on the efforts of the trapper. This small group of people sets so many traps and snares one can hardly go outdoors without risk these days, with traps virtually everywhere.
Additionally, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks has never been responsive to citizen concerns about traps and snares, and trappers, with a few minor exceptions, have never given an inch. Perhaps Initiative 169 is the only way to accomplish change.
In the end, despite all the talk about “management,” “science-based,” and recreation, there’s the issue of humaneness. Are we as a society willing to continue legalizing and approving excruciating brutality to wild animals, simply so someone who enjoys killing them can do so?
Despite trapper claims, this is not about hunting and fishing, nor is it an “animal rights” issue. It’s a human decency issue.
Michael Koeppen, Florence