The Montana FWP Commissioners voted during the July 13 public hearing on the 2016/17 trapping proposals, wolf quota and griz mgt plan.

Three of our board members from Hamilton and Great Falls went to Helena and we gave public comment again on all the proposals. Pro-wildlife participants far outnumbered anti-wildlife. Other than Helena, the FWP regions appeared sparsely attended. However, it quickly became clear, the Commissioners votes had already been cast.

Here are the winners and the losers:

  • Wolf quota for unit 313, outside Yellowstone will remain at 2!
  • A no wolf trapping zone in the Deckard Flat – Trail Creek elk closure area will be instituted!

655 “communications” were received by FWP regarding the wolf quota increase with most opposed to hunting and trapping wolves.  Many were reportedly from out of state, but Commissioners stated, Montana does care about the tourists. Rightfully we should!  Tourism is our 2nd leading industry and wolves and grizzlies are what many come here to see. Although the elk in unit 313 area are at management objectives, comments were this decision wasn’t biologically based but was done for social reasoning.  We thank our friends at Wolves of the Rockies for taking the lead and all their work on keeping this quota as low as it is.

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THE CONSERVATION ETHIC


“The greatest good for the greatest number of people for the greatest length of time.”
Gifford Pinchot

  • The Grizzly tri-state agreement with some change to the hunting structure was approved. We’ll leave the info on the Grizzly up to those groups that are following and working for them. Greater Yellowstone Coalition, Sierra Club, Defenders, Wildearth Guardians, i.e., gave some great comment at the hearing.
  • Trap setbacks from designated roads, trails, trailheads, etc. as now applies for trapping furbearers and wolves will apply for trapping ALL, including predators and nongame!
  • The swift fox quota will be reduced from 30 to 10 which is consistent with the average number being reported trapped and killed annually since they were reintroduced and trapping resumed!
  • More bobcat will legally be trapped as commissioners voted to increase the quota from 180 to 200 for Region 2 ie Bitterroots, Missoula, also areas designated Lynx habitat.
  • Despite public comment 2:1 opposing increasing the trapping of River Otters  for Region 1, NW Montana, the otters again lost and their quota will go from 23 to 28!
Monitoring the quotas and reviewing over the years the reports, one can basically conclude this is the norm. Regions that go over quota are addressed and reinforced by having the quota increased. During the Commissioner’s hearing, FWP provided graphs depicting the increased trapping of River Otter as summation the River Otter population has increased and increasing the quotas are therefore justified. Yet what the graphs show us is more River Otter are killed, not that more exist, or existed over time.

FWP reports trapping is market driven. River Otter pelts sold for $63 on average to high of $127 in Montana this past season early on. However, unless the trappers aren’t interested the wildlife rarely catch a break. When trappers lose an interest in a species, FWP reportedly increases the quota to entice them.

  • Despite the FWP Commissioners proposal in May to actually eliminate a quota on the rare Fisher, they since met with the Montana Trappers Association and rescinded. Fisher will now have 4 mgt areas with a quota of 5 and subquotas of 1 female in 2 of the areas. Killing 1 female is potentially far more than killing 1 fisher. They experience delayed implantation and therefore can either be pregnant or caring for dependent young during the trapping season.
  • Montana Trappers Association testified previously that Fisher weren’t of interest to them and that Fisher were incidentally trapped in Marten sets. Since then they must have looked up the pricing of Fisher fur and seeing it basically tripled in value in three years from $50 to $145 they became very interested! A trapper testified yesterday in a region where Fisher were reintroduced and actually have not appeared to survive. He said trapping a Fisher is like trapping the Holy Grail! What a gift. What it really is about, friends. Wildlife are trapped and killed for selfish greed.

    Photo courtesy: Zaxtor. Reproduced for educational purposes.
FWP neglected to mention in their publicized cover sheet of numerous comments received supporting NRDC 24 hr trap checks that was denied public comment. Yet during the hearing, FWP acknowledged the comments were significant. Not on the agenda was the Dept of Livestock providing comment at length on their need to continue to use M44s and opposing any tools such as snaring being removed from their war on predation especially against coyotes even on public lands or in Grizzly habitat. Commissioner Wolfe asked to what extent are these deadly M44 (sodium cyanide) explosives used on public land? The answer remains unknown.

Short from ending trapping, it is hard to really find much winning given the cruel and unnecessary practice of trapping. Of the reported 480 comments FWP received, 54% opposed trapping and favored all proposals to limit trapping. From yesterday’s FWP Commissioners public hearing what was evident  is the trappers remain in control and our wildlife is managed, or the lack thereof, in Montana, for trappers.

What was further emphasized by Montana FWP and promoted by some Commissioners is trapping is a heritage to be protected in Montana.

In contrast,  we will continue to push for preservation and ethical treatment of wildlife for their intrinsic, economical and ecological value.

Thank you Friends of Trap Free Montana Public Lands

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