Ethical hunters say that the prolonged torture animals suffer in traps is worse than their worst hunting nightmare. My hunting years were lucky: We practiced, we shot only when the target was clear in our sights, went for clean, quick, efficient kills and got them. We never threw away a dead animal. But trappers aren’t there when an animal gets snapped in a trap. They don’t know what kind of animal they will find in their traps, up to weeks later. They toss two animals away for every one they keep. Anyone who claims traps aren’t indiscriminate, unfair, cruel and wasteful is a liar.
The claim that I-160, the Montana Trap-Free Public Lands Initiative, will unleash marauding nuisance animals is false. The overwhelming number of incidents involving nuisance animals is on private land. I-160 allows trapping on private lands and on public lands for health, safety and science. It allows the removal of a beaver, for instance, building a dam that might flood a road.
I-160 will not end trapping. Two-thirds of Montana will remain open for trapping. I-160 opens public lands to the public. Trappers will continue to get licenses and hire out to FWP and homeowners to rid yards and pastures from so-called nuisance animals.
Trapping is regulated solely as recreation. Trappers’ anecdotes are not scientific data—they are stories. The regulations are loose because trappers wrote them. Checking a trap within 48 hours is a suggestion, not a rule. The secretive nature of trapping protected it until so many pets got injured and killed in traps. Traps kill endangered species and raptors—a felony for anyone but a trapper. Except for lynx, trapped non-target animals–even if reported—aren’t recorded by the FWP. Only 34 percent of trappers bother to return surveys.
There’s no honest defense for trapping on public lands.