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Anti-trap measure qualifies for November ballot in Montana - KTVQ.com | Q2 | Continuous News Coverage | Billings, MT

Anti-trap measure qualifies for November ballot in Montana

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I-177 would prohibit the use of traps and snares for animals on any public lands within the state. (MTN News photo) I-177 would prohibit the use of traps and snares for animals on any public lands within the state. (MTN News photo)
HELENA -

An initiative supporting trap-free public lands has qualified for the November ballot in Montana.

Organizers of Initiative 177 gathered more than 24,175 signatures to qualify the proposal.

I-177 would prohibit the use of traps and snares for animals on any public lands within the state.

The initiative also establishes misdemeanor criminal penalties for violations of the trapping prohibitions.

However, I-177 does allow Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks to use certain traps on public land when necessary to protect public health and safety.

Republican State Senator Jennifer Fielder says she opposes the initiative.

“I think that it’s important to protect the rights of a sportsman to be able to utilize the land in different ways. And for Montanans to be able to hunt, fish, and trap in our state, it’s part of our heritage that we treasure,” said Fielder.

She noted, “Trapping is very similar to hunting, it’s a means of harvesting animals. And done properly it can be done quite humanely."

Members of Footloose Montana, a non-profit agency, are supporting the initiative and formed the ballot initiative committee.

Fielder said, “I think the animal rights groups mischaracterize it frequently to make it seem like it’s a horrendous thing.”

If this initiative passes in November, it will become effective immediately.

Here is the complete text of the proposal:

I-177 generally prohibits the use of traps and snares for animals on any public lands within Montana and establishes misdemeanor criminal penalties for violations of the trapping prohibitions.

I-177 allows the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks to use certain traps on public land when necessary if nonlethal methods have been tried and found ineffective.

I-177 allows trapping by public employees and their agents to protect public health and safety, protect livestock and property, or conduct specified scientific and wildlife management activities.

I-177, if passed by the electorate, will become effective immediately.

I-177 reduces approximately $61,380 of state funds annually, resulting from a loss of trapping license revenue.

In addition, the state will incur other costs associated with monitoring wolf populations and hiring additional full-time employees at the Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks.

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