Reject the Legislature’s Plan to Reimburse Ruthless Profiteering in Trapping

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:

If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we would certainly appreciate it.

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Douglas Balmain

Writer, Thinker, Ex-Recording Artist.


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  • Let me see if I understand this………….the wingnuts in the Legislature are desperately certain that we can’t afford to provide food to hungry children, but somehow we can afford to pay trappers to kill wolves.


    • This doesn’t make the tax payer pay for wolves trapped. It makes it possible so that trappers, sportsman’s groups, or ranchers can join a group that will pay for some of the expenses trappers incur while trapping wolves. No money comes from the tax payer.

      • @Robert – If this bill passes, you know, I know, we all know that next Legislative session there will be bill(s) introduced to establish a bounty (tax-paid) for trapped wolves. This is just another effort to create an innocuous-seeming end-run to once again exterminate wolves from all ecosystems in Montana.

        The bug-a-boo of “control wolf numbers” is as phony as a $3 bill. Wolf numbers ARE controlled, barely this side of extinction. The overwhelming majority of Montanans want to know, and have the chance to see, that apex predators, like wolves and grizzlies, are helping to maintain a true, ecological balance.

  • Don, I appreciate many of your comments and articles. This last statement was over the top.

    Trappers have always received money for trapping. That’s partially what trapping is about. We need trapping to control wolf numbers. Sportsman throughout the western part of this state understand that and if this helps keep us control our wolves then it’s a better solution than making snares legal. Right? We are not holding our own on the numbers of wolves out there right now. IF that happens then the number of wolves trapped can be reduced. Your complaints here are more emotionally triggered by your resentment towards trapping than a logical thought process on what it really will do to wolves.

    • The idea here is that our traditional approach to trapping and controlling predator numbers is outdated, if not completely scientifically obsolete. There may be a period of fluctuation before the predator/prey relationship balances, but the state’s endorsing of trappers with little controls is not the solution to the perceived problem.

      Even the problem itself is problematic, as the idea that Montana’s wolf population is too large, or that we’re “not holding our own” against their numbers is almost totally subjective and has very little, if any, scientific data to support the claim.

      What is clear, is that the hunting industry doesn’t like wolves cutting into their profit margin by redistributing/altering the number of tags that can be sold year to year. But, that is not an ecological issue, that’s an issue of private business and state profit.

  • Trapping is an evil assault on wildlife. Attacking wildlife is psychotic behavior. One would not condone this behavior on humans, and the efforts to justify or rationalize serial murder will not change the essential truth of what “culling”, “trapping”, “harvesting”, “hunting”, “wildlife management” really is. The complete and utter disregard, and disrespect for wildlife, for the endless trauma inflicted on the young left to fend for themselves, the senseless and mindless disruption to populations by the hand of idiotic, disconnected fools who would have you think this is normal, acceptable behavior, please, give up. The truth has a way of just sticking around regardless of lies, deceit, cover up, dismissal of fact and reality and truth, you will not succeed in annihilating the truth. More than majority of our species most certainly, inherently understands that violence and killing animals, one by one, or in hoards is despicable, disgusting behavior. You wouldn’t want that happening to your loved one or yourself. Please evolve.

  • Never mind the immoral position taken by many ranchers and hunters and the generally ignorant rednecks. Trapping is horrible. Tradition should not be continued if it’s abhorrent. The animals suffer greatly. It is no longer the 18th century, all trapping should be illegal. Moreover if my dog ever ends up in one, i will find the trapper, “young sportsman” or not, and they too will suffer greatly.

  • Tue., April 2nd, 2019: 0830MST

    The Montana State Legislature website lists HB279 as, “Probably dead,” after the state senate voted to “Indefinitely postpone” the bill’s 2nd reading with a 37 to 13 vote yesterday afternoon; effectively rejecting the legal reimbursement of trapper’s expenses.

    Thank you to everyone who shared this article and contacted your senators to express your opposition to this bill.

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