Thursday, April 1, 2010

Defending trappers

Posted on Thu, Apr 1, 2010 at 4:00 AM

Wildlife managers are often confronted by the public when coyotes, wolves and mountain lions kill or wound their pets. They are called when beavers cut down trees, dam creeks, flood roads and driveways. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) often calls in a local trapper for help. Currently there are two federal trappers for five local counties. Without the help of licensed trappers, the FWP might not be able to handle all of the wildlife conflicts.

It makes sense to charge trappers for licenses and to regulate them at no cost to the taxpayer (see “Political trap” in Letters, March 18, 2010). Trapping nuisance animals is a service that local trappers often do for free.

There has been misinformation presented that trappers aren’t regulated. This is false. There happens to be about 100 regulations in the 2008-2009 Montana trapping and hunting regulations, some of which are species specific. Behind these regulations are fines for violations and revoked licenses.

Another fallacy is the idea that traps are set indiscriminately, leaving some people to believe that pets are in danger. The trappers I know own dogs and take them trapping with no intention of putting their pet at risk. The real dangers to wildlife are loss of habitat due to urban sprawl and development of farms and ranches. That is why there are organizations like Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, National Wildlife Federation and Furbearers United.

Montana has more public land than most states and sound management policies need to stay intact. Hunters and trappers learn more about wildlife than most people. They are out there looking at tracks and sign. Big game, predators and furbearers are primarily nocturnal; hence an illusion of not being present. Collectively, hunters and trappers know what is out there and help biologists with information, volunteering surveys about sightings and harvest numbers. Trappers are a resource to the public for disease control and animal nuisance reduction.

Bert Wustner

Lolo

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