Montana 2018 Trapping Proposals
UPDATED with Wildlife Commissioner’s decisions below:
UPDATE: Wildlife Commissioner’s hearing Aug 9. FWP Headquarters - 1420 East 6th Avenue - Helena, MT. The public meeting begins at 830 with the furbearers final decisions scheduled to start around 1:00 after the lunch break.
Two wildlife advocates, the board presidents of Trap Free Montana Public Lands (TFMPL) and Wolves of the Rockies, attended the Aug 9 hearing and gave verbal comment, again.
During the August 9, 2018 Wildlife Commissioner’s furbearer decision meeting, TFMPL board president, KC York, advocated for the need for opportunities for all stakeholder participation. York raised the issue of wildlife advocates are set up to be more informed and reactive than provided the means to be proactive and involved in the actual furbearer trapping proposals to begin with. Chairman Vermillion agreed that ALL interested parties should be given advance notice and the opportunity to participate in the annual furbearer discussion and propositions with FWP.
275 comments were reportedly submitted to FWP for the Montana 2018/2019 furbearer proposals by the July 15, 2018 deadline. Well done!
About 15 of the comments were from trappers,11 of whom listed as Montana residents.
Although, again, not open for public comment, roughly 2 dozen organizations, 18 from Montana, representing conservatively tens of thousands, plus over 425 individuals, 87% being Montanans, signed on to a letter for 24 hour/daily trap checks from Zack Strong of NRDC that we helped circulate online. This is double the number gathered in a very short time last year.
Here are the 2018/2019 FWP Montana furbearer trapping proposals and our recommendations:
1. Proposal for Region 3: Decrease bobcat quota from 250 to 150.
Over 1500 bobcat were reported killed legally throughout Montana this past trapping season. Region 3, located in SW Montana, had a pattern, along with Regions 1 and 2 in western Montana of going over quota from 2010-2015. An additional 187 bobcats were reported killed! The usual response has been for FWP to increase the quota. Good to see the department is now taking some notice in Region 3.
We support the reduction in quota but animals killed over quota need to be removed off the next year's quota, too!
2. Proposal for a Conservation Strategy for Swift Fox.
SUPPORT but INSIST on a Trapping Moratorium on swift fox.
41 Comments submitted. 40 comments URGING closing trapping of swift fox!
Commissioner’s decision POSTPONED until Oct. mtg, then Dec mtg, then February 2019!
Meanwhile, rare swift fox continue to be legally trapped in Montana Nov 1 -March 1 and during their dispersal, breeding and pregnancy until FWP closes the season after a quota of 10 are reported trapped & killed.
Who would oppose a "conservation strategy"? Why though is one now being proposed for the little swift fox? In the war against coyotes and wolves, swift fox were formerly wiped out in Montana. Approximately 1,000 swift fox were later reintroduced into Montana along the Canadian border between 1983-1997. Another roughly 200 were released on to two Native American Reservations in 1998-2002 and 2006-2010. However, in the last census, swift fox populations have plummeted 67% in Montana!
In response to our communicated concerns and upset. FWP said the final population estimate in 2015 was 347, down still a significant 33%.
Table 1. Swift Fox Population Estimates for the International Census area in north-central Montana and southern Alberta and Saskatchewan.
(Draft Conservation Strategy)
Did you know that Swift fox are protected in Alberta and Saskatchewan? It is illegal to trap them! Not so in Montana.
According to the USFWS the little swift fox are also very easy to trap. Compound that with their very curious nature (Stewart, 1999) and you have the perfect storm to easily award yourself with a whopping $7 swift fox pelt. Yes, you read that right. Seven dollars!
In the 2016/2017 trapping proposals, the quota on swift fox was reduced from 30 to 10 which was reflective of the averages reported trapped and killed over the years since Montana resurrected trapping them. TFMPL expressed concern then to the Commissioners if this kill rate was reflective of the low population or low interest of trappers. Now evidence points to our bigger fear. Montana estimates only 175 swift fox!
We cannot have a legitimate conservation strategy for the declining swift fox encompassing the stated goals for population monitoring, dispersal, and habitat acquisition, yet continue to trap them! Please note the time in which swift fox venture off to new areas is just prior to the mating season, i.e. Feb/March. Montana trapping season on swift fox runs NOV1-MAR1 unless the quota is reached.
INSIST ON A 0 QUOTA FOR SWIFT FOX CONSERVATION & RECOVERY! Otherwise, it is mute.
For more information on the swift fox visit trapfreemt.org/wildlife-species/swift-fox
Although not on the proposals Trap Free Montana Public Lands and our charitable affiliate, Trap Free Montana, continue to advocate for beavers.
3. PRO-BEAVER MEASURES!
URGE FOR Quotas
Protections from trapping in the higher elevations
No changes were made to the unregulated trapping of beaver. However, in response to TFMPL’s verbal comment, the Commission said beaver needed to be added to the Trapping Advisory Committee list for review.
Beaver are nature's hydro-engineers. They are a critically necessary keystone species designed to create wetlands, water reservoirs, fire breaks, slow snow melt runoff and improve our water quality. Not surprising, there is no science involved in the current trapping of this invaluable and perhaps dwindling species. Beaver can be trapped for fun and fur 5 1/2 - 9 months out of the year, dependent on the region, in unlimited numbers, telling no one, for a mere purchase of a $29 trapping license in Montana. Trapping damage permits are permitted year-round. A beaver pelt is selling now for less than $10. To trap and relocate a beaver pays, $50! We need beaver. We need safe places for them to go and where they cannot be lethally trapped. Although we know our supporters submitted comments for the beavers in the past, the Commissioners say they have no recollection. Please speak up and continue!
Your comments on the Montana trapping proposals and our recommendations can be brief and to the point and should be in your own words.
Closes July 15, 5pm mst
Subject line "Comments for 2018-2019 trapping proposals"
And BE SURE YOU SIGNED ON TO THE 24 TRAP CHECK LETTER!
TFMPL submitted signatures from over 100 Montanans, close to 50 non-residents and several organizations.
Mandatory trap check intervals again were NOT open for public comment and Commissioners did not propose or vote on it. However, Commissioner Stuker commented that something has to be done.
Simply provide us: your name, city, state
We will add you to the letter compiled by Zack Strong of NRDC urging for a 24 hour trap check time period. No, this does not mean that we condone trapping, but there is no excuse for trapped animals to linger and suffer, indefinitely as the regulations in Montana permits. The only exceptions are trap sets for bobcats in designated lynx protection zones and for traps set for wolves require a 48 hour visual trap check.