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Parade Magazine polled over 1,000 Americans on what they felt most compassionate about. Out of 16 categories, animal welfare was No. 4 from the top! This indicates that those who oppose recreational trapping on public land (approximately one-third of the state) are not a nutty fringe like some people want us to believe. It is also opposed by the American Veterinary Association, among a number of national groups.

Another fallacy is that Initiative 160 is an attempt to eliminate hunting in the state. This is nothing but fear-mongering. There is no such agenda. None of the other states which have banned this form of trapping have made any attempts to eliminate hunting. Trapping is not hunting, it is luring an unsuspecting animal with food.

There are about 3,000 trapping licenses issued per year, compared to hundreds of thousands fishing and hunting licenses. Fish, Wildlife and Parks cannot afford to enforce the few trapping rules there are. An ethical hunter knows his target and does not want to leave a wounded animal. A baited trap will catch whatever, and no checks are required. Traps kill tens of thousands of animals, both intended and non-targeted, which belong to the public.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. This initiative is about giving the 99.7 percent of Montanans who do not trap a say in the management of the state’s diverse wildlife, which we all have a right to enjoy in a non-destructive way.

The initiative is an important step in our constitutional democracy. Only by signing the petition for putting I-160 on the ballot can we ensure that the people in whose care our wildlife is given will have a say in this matter. We then hope an honest debate will follow, allowing an educated electorate to decide at the polls (www.mttrapfree.org).

Ole and Rusti Leivestad, Trout Creek

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