Our ongoing fascination with Footloose Montana reached new heights when the earnest anti-trapping group proposed its "Montana Trap-Free Public Lands Initiative" on July 15.
First, we couldn't agree more with Footloose's mission to prohibit this brutal practice in areas where many Montanans hike, bike or camp. Under the current rule, trappers can set up an unlimited number of traps anywhere on public lands—traps that too often clamp down on the unsuspecting legs of non-targeted animals, including pet dogs. We hear too many stories from horrified hikers who stumble upon suffering trapped animals, or grief-stricken dog owners who lose Fido in a conibear trap, to not demand change. That's why we hope Footloose collects the 24,000 signatures required to get the proposed initiative on the November 2010 general election ballot.
If only Footloose could focus its message. We've disagreed with the organization when they've complained about how animals are treated on the PEAS Farm (ignoring the immediate benefit of locally cultivated food sources) and when they objected to hunting stories we've published (news is news). The arguments strike us as narrow-minded and off-point, the kind of reckless, publicity-seeking activist talk that gives groups like PETA a bad name.
Most recently, we came across another doozie when researching the new initiative. Apparently, Montana's numerous traps can be blamed on hip hop fashonistas.
"The pelts a trapper does sell are probably adorning a fur coat worn by a rapper wannabe in some urban center far from Montana's high mountains," the website reads. "Hip hop culture, which embraces fur garments as status symbols, is driving fur prices higher and encouraging trappers to deploy more traps than ever on Montana's public lands. "
Say what? We haven't seen a drive-by like this since Biggie Smalls was popped in '97. Plus, we have plenty of rapper wannabes right here.
Curious, we scrambled for evidence of hip hop's overwhelming influence over Montana's trapping industry. The closest thing we found was Sean Combs apologizing in 2004 for dog fur being used in some of his Sean John clothing line. He promised that all of his apparel—as per industry standard—would use fake fur in the future.
If Footloose wants to make a point about the fur market, a simple list of current values would do the trick. According to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, good wolverine pelts go for $254.67 a pop. That's more effective than arbitrarily pointing the finger at urbanites.
As Footloose gears up for its signature campaign, we only hope they stay on message. Heart-wrenching anecdotes and solid numbers do the job, and it would be a shame to see a good cause get caught in its own snare.