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Cornered by common sense that would restrict commercial and recreational traps to private lands, trappers shout outlandish claims, like taking credit for the recovery of game species. The truth is trapping takes a huge toll and has nothing to do with recovering anything. Beaver were trapped out of Montana in less than 20 years. By 1847, they were gone, causing severe drought in Eastern Montana. After reintroduction trapping them was outlawed for a century.

Hunters, not trappers, saved game species. Hunters outlawed commercial take of wildlife and restricted hunting, but trappers continue to commercialize wildlife and refuse even mandatory trap-checks, showing no such responsibility. Instead, they lace our public lands with an unlimited number of traps, taking any and all animals, and throwing away those they don’t want — dogs, cats, endangered species, migratory birds, livestock, even fish. Trappers have had many opportunities to self-regulate (checking traps more frequently, marking traps to warn other public lands users, etc) but have singularly failed to.

Pine marten, swift fox and fishers were trapped out and reintroduced at taxpayers’ expense. Now, lynx, wolverine and river otter join the imperiled list due to trapping.

Trappers say they have to trap bobcats because they are nocturnal predators. This is patently insincere, because trappers trap bobcats to sell their pelts, nothing else. Bobcats eat rodents, helping keep disease in check. A bobcat pelt goes for $260. All-terrain vehicles and thousands of miles of roads mean trappers penetrate farther and faster than ever before, raising the unchecked slaughter exponentially.

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We should be able to enjoy our public lands without fear of dangerous devices that maim and kill indiscriminately. Please vote Yes on I-177.

— Chris Henry, Missoula

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