Montana House Bill No. 279 has passed with a 49 to 45 vote in the House and has now progressed to the State Senate. Its 2nd reading is scheduled for this Monday, April 1st at 1 PM with a vote to follow.
Should this bill pass, the State of Montana will amend the ethical considerations of Montana’s Fish & Wildlife legal codes to allow trappers to receive monetary reimbursement for killing wolves.
Montana Bill No. 279 states that “Reimbursements for receipts of costs incurred related to the trapping of wolves may be given to ethical trappers licensed pursuant to Title 87, chapter 2, part 6.”
The qualifications to receive the aforementioned license are as follows:
“A resident…who is 12 years of age or older, upon making application and payment of a fee of $20 to the department.” (Title 87, Chapter 2, Part 6., Montana State Legislature.)
Many trappers view their practice as an income-earning trade. The passing of this bill could potentially enable trappers to run a pure-profit business model, motivating the wholesale exploitation of our state’s wildlife for private, monetary gain.
The non-profit organization, Trap Free Montana Public Lands, makes an excellent point in stating that there is no such thing as “wolf trapping”—trapping is indiscriminate by nature; a trap makes a casualty of whichever animal, of any species, first falls victim to it.
We should only be accepting of these unavoidable collateral damages and ethical compromises if they have been proven to provide significant, and legitimate, benefits to the state—and the citizens of Montana—as a whole. But, the practice of trapping wolves does not, and has not, proven efficient or beneficial to the state or the state’s wildlife; it has proven only to be of arguable benefit to isolated, independently-interested sects of the state’s population.
The North American Model of Wildlife Conservation explicitly states that, “Wildlife can only be killed for a legitimate purpose,” and that, “Science is the proper tool for discharge of wildlife policy.” (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service)
Current scientific evidence directly supports the theory that disturbing the natural ecosystem and the predator-prey dichotomy is overtly detrimental to all species and the environment as a whole:
“Scientists have recently begun to understand the vital role played by top predators in ecosystems and the profound impacts that occur when those predators are wiped out. Now, researchers are citing new evidence that shows the importance of lions, wolves, sharks, and other creatures at the top of the food chain. (“The Crucial Role of Predators.” Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies.)
Montana belongs to all of us—not the interested minority. Should Bill No. 279 pass in the Senate, the State of Montana will effectively condone and subsidize indiscriminate killing contests and ruthless profiteering that will see an unknown number of Montana’s animals across an unknown variety of species killed. This would be done to no benefit of the state and in direct conflict with current science.
Please contact Montana’s senators today to express your vehement objection to this costly and irresponsible bill.
A list of Montana State Senators and their contact information can be found here: https://leg.mt.gov/senate/