The 2015 Montana Legislature is attempting to change core definitions in the Montana constitution without a public vote on the matter.

HB 212 "Reaffirms trapping is a form of hunting protected under Montana constitution." Proponents are trying to protect the distinctly separate, barbaric practice of trapping through the guise of redefining the terms “hunting” and “harvest”. We know and they know that trapping was not included in the 2004 Hunting and Fishing Heritage Amendment that Montanans voted for and for very good reason.

If that was the true intent, simply adding one word, "trapping" would have been done. For supporters to now pretend differently and legislators to pass HB 212, is disingenuous to Montana voters.

Trapping is NOT hunting for a variety of distinctions. Hunting is strictly regulated and hunters are generally penalized for shooting the wrong species. Hunters have a defined season, wear orange, have a limit, and are not allowed to bait animals.

None of those limitations exist for trappers.

Hunters are not permitted to leave their guns set unattended ready to shoot. In Montana it is even illegal to leave a fishing pole unattended.

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However, a trapper can set as many traps as they choose. Trappers, who report to FWP, indicate they set 50,000 unattended traps annually. Training is not mandated for trappers and yet required for hunters. The exception is a sole requirement to attend a 6 hour class to legally trap a wolf.

A hunter must have a hunting license to hunt any of Montana's game animals plus show a hunter education course certificate issued by Montana, any other state, or any Canadian province. Conversely, Montana residents are not required to purchase a $29 trapping license except to trap furbearers and wolves. The traps do not distinguish whether they are set by a licensed or non-licensed trapper.

Montanans and tourists should not have their peace of mind plus the safety and well-being of children and pets compromised when using public land. The concept of “multiple use” of Montana’s public lands is impossible if trappers also use the same public land year round for trapping. Such a radical change to our Montana constitution deserves to go before the Montana voters so we can ALL use public lands safely.

-- Barbara Booher, Troy

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