Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks will not implement mandatory trapper education for the next trapping season.
The Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission approved the agency’s proposal last year to make education mandatory for new trappers and to require modifications to certain traps. FWP received more than 280 public comments on the proposals and other suggested trapping regulations.
According to agency analysis, 160 of the comments opposed all trapping, while trappers accounted for 43 comments. Those not identified as trappers or opponents were split on proposed regulation changes.
Trappers favored mandatory trapper education at 86 percent and opposed the modifications at 83 percent.
Trapping opponents opposed mandatory education by a four-to-one margin, with most comments citing the Montana Trappers Association’s role in developing and running the program. Many opponents felt non-trappers should have a greater role in developing the program.
With mandatory education, FWP hoped to improve ethics in trapping and relationships with the non-trapping public, FWP furbearer coordinator Bob Inman told the commission.
“It’s a big milestone for the trapping program that’s taken 20 years,” he said. “The main emphasis will be ethics and the humane treatment of animals.”
As FWP began implementing the education program, questions arose both internally and externally about whether “the commission was the appropriate venue to bring forward the question of mandatory trapper education,” FWP said in a news release.
“We’re taking a pause until that whole question gets sorted out,” said FWP spokesman Greg Lemon. “It wasn’t so much the question of mandatory trapper ed, it was the implementation of it.”
Legal review is looking at whether implementation may require action by the Legislature, he said, adding that the decision to take a pause does not affect other trapping related regulation changes.
The decision also does not affect mandatory education and certification for trapping wolves.