Here is Trap Free Montana Public Lands (TFMPL) 2019 Montana Legislator's Voting Report Card on trapping related bills.
TFMPL was highly engaged in the 2019 Montana legislative session. There were 7 bills. 5 trapping related bills and 2 bills that did not focus on trapping but shared a common denominator with trappers. TFMPL was personally involved with the request and language for 2 of the bills, HB287 and HB517.
TFMPL supported 5 of the bills. All 5 bills failed.
TFMPL opposed 2 bills and are pleased to say, both failed.
Thus the outcome of all our hard work and with the help of our supporters was we only managed to stop trapping from worsening in Montana. We were unsuccessful at easing the suffering or any of the many wrongs with trapping. We know that opposing trapping is a bipartisan issue. Yet, the Montana legislators are not very well aware of that. They ALL need to hear from you on how strongly you feel against trapping! Vote accordingly if you truly care!
Note to reader: Here is how to look up your legislator and their contact information.
So how did your 2019 Montana legislators do?
The 2019 Montana Legislator's Voting Record & Grade on Trap Related Bills The Bill Narratives are below.
Please thank your legislators with the high grades and respectfully discuss trapping with those with just passing and failing grades. Vote accordingly!
SB185 “Prohibiting the trapping & hunting of Yellowstone wolves”--TFMPL Supported- SB185. DIED, tabled in the Senate Fish & Game committee after a vote of 9 nays: 1 yea. TFMPL joined multiple other nonprofits and individuals for the hearing in favor of SB185 on 2/14/19. Thank you, Senator Mike Phillips (D) District 32, Bozeman, for sponsoring this bill! There was only one proponent on the Committee, Senator Edie McClafferty(D) District 38, Butte. Thank you, Senator McClafferty.
There is nothing sporting, fair chase or ethical about killing and targeting habituated wolves simply for crossing an imaginary boundary line. These Yellowstone wolves are worth far more alive to many than dead to a self-serving few.
SB186 “Prohibit Contests for Predatory Animals”-- TFMPL Supported- SB186. DIED, tabled in Committee. Senator Mike Phillips (D) District 32, Bozeman, introduced bill, SB186, to ban these blood killing frenzies. TFMPL’s board president, on her own behalf, joined 12 others who gave excellent testimony in support of SB186. For a change, the wildlife advocates outnumbered the predator haters 3:1. Three of the Montana Senate Fish and Game Committee, Senator Jill Cohenour (D), Senator Pat Flowers (D) and Senator Edie McClafferty (D) voted in favor of ending the killing derbies which in the bill applied to coyotes and foxes. Thank you, Senators.
Making a carnival out of killing animals and awarding money and prizes for the most, biggest, smallest, etc. creates a shameful black eye to our state of Montana. It is also far more damaging to hunting than any anti-hunters.
SB187 “Prohibit Vehicular Injury of Predatory Animals”-- TFMPL Supported-SB187. DIED, tabled in committee during the 2/21 hearing in the Senate Fish & Game hearing in a party line vote of 6 nays:4 yeas. Senator Mike Phillips (D) District 32, Bozeman, introduced bill, SB187, which would prohibit the use of a vehicle to run over and kill coyotes or other predators. Participants call it “coyote whacking”. TFMPL board president testified on her own behalf in favor of the bill. Senator Tom Jacobson (D) joined the other 3 Senators who supported SB 186.
“I think it’s inhumane,” Senator Phillips told the committee, echoing his earlier bill in saying that he believed the practice “celebrates a culture of needless violence.” Ken McDonald, administrator of the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks wildlife division, testified that a number of websites have posted videos of the practice, typically of snowmobiles running down coyotes. TFMPL board president posed to the committee, especially given the increasing violent acts in our country, what message does this send to children, and what does it say of our society that we even need to have such a bill?
HB279 “Reimbursing "Wolf" Trappers for Expenses”--TFMPL Opposed- HB279. DIED in the full Montana Senate 23 yeas: 27 nays on 4/1/19. Having passed in the House and then Senate Fish & Game, we thank all who helped us step it up and kill this bad bill. Rep Bob Brown (R) District 13, Thompson Falls, sponsored HB279. A bill that would set a very bad precedent.
This was nothing less than a bounty on wolves. Referred to by allies as the "welfare for trappers" and the "whiskey for trappers" bill. The bill quest was mirrored off vast hand-outs to Idaho trappers after wolves and with the financial support of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. In further opposition, regarding trapping reimbursements, TFMPL questioned when then are trappers going to reimburse for the costs of all the non-target victims and consequences from trapping?
HB287 "Generally Revise Trap-Checking Requirements"--TFMPL Supported-HB287. DIED, tabled in the House Fish and Wildlife Committee voted 12 nays: 6 yeas against HB287 on 2/19/19. TFMPL had partnered with Wolves of the Rockies for this much needed bill reluctantly compromising before the language was even finalized from the experts and scientist's consistently recommended 24 hour to a less rigid trap check time period for trappers to check their unattended traps and snares to at least daily. Representative Bridget Smith (D) District 31, from Wolf Point, is appreciated for her courage to take this on and sponsor HB287. Thank you to the other proponents of the bill, Rep Zac Brown (D), Rep Robert Farris Olsen (D), Rep Tyson Runningwolf (D), Rep Sharon Stewart Peregoy (D), and Rep Marvin Weatherwax (D).
Although 0 Republicans supported the bill, neither did 2 Democrats: Rep Zac Perry (D), Hungry Horse and Rep Mark Sweeney (D) Philipsburg.
TFMPL’s purpose for this bill was to reduce the legalized prolonged suffering of trapped animals in Montana. Our other goal was to increase the chance for trapped non-targets including the protected, threatened, and rare wildlife and trapped lost dogs by giving them a better chance at recovery and survival after being trapped. There is no excuse to condone animal suffering. Ethical hunters do not. 36 other states have 24 hr/daily trap checks in their regulations. Other than 2 limited exceptions, Montana has none.
HB517 ** “Establish Trapper Education”--TFMPL Supported-HB517 initially until amended language distorted the bill’s original intent. HB517 DIED by being tabled in the House Fish Wildlife and Parks committee in a party line vote of 10 nays: 8 yeas.
Sponsored by Rep. Bridget Smith (D) District 31, Wolf Point, TFMPL partnered with Wolves of the Rockies for this bill. HB517 encompassed much of what had been approved previously by the FWP Wildlife Commission for trapper education. Added to the language was a FWP appointed Trapper Education Advisory Committee to be comprised of various interested stakeholders. Outreach was conducted to the Montana Trappers Association and other members of the FWP Trapping Advisory Committee for participation in the bill language. The Montana Trappers Association later stated they objected to the bill because they were not included in the bill. The trappers mainly objected to non-trappers having any input even in an advisory only capacity.
Just prior to the hearing, HB517 was completely amended by FWP, deleting basically all of our proposed language. TFMPL could not support the amended language. In a final attempt for passage, TFMPL proposed a very simplified condensed and amended version of HB517 to the committee, but to no avail. This amended language was not introduced.
HB552 “Removing Trap Setbacks on Closed Roads”--TFMPL Opposed-HB552. DIED. The bill was somehow resurrected on 3/12/19 and passed the Montana House Fish & Wildlife Committee with a party line vote 10 yeas: 8 nays advancing to the full House. However, on 3/15/19, HB552 did NOT PASS in the full Montana House in the second reading with a tie vote of 50 yeas: 50 nays and the bill DIED. Rep Bob Brown (R) District 13, Thompson Falls, sponsored HB552 saying it was just what FWP had wanted.
HB552 removed trap setbacks from public roads closed to vehicle use, other than snowmobiles, but open for the public use. Setbacks refer to the distance traps and snares must be set back to help protect the public from these hidden secreted baited landmines. TFMPL was determined to help kill this bill which was a set up for a horrific accident just waiting to happen.
Here again is how to look up your legislator and their contact information.
Remember these legislators. Respectfully let them know how you feel about trapping. Vote accordingly and hold them accountable!
For Committee member reference:
Thank you to all who helped us and took action for/against these bills!