Utilizing the truths in trapping, the best available science, ethics, & responsible stewardship to achieve trapping reform.

MT 2017 Trapping Proposals

UPDATE: On August 10, 2017, the Montana Wildlife Commissioners voted in favor of FWP and the trappers.

  • Mandatory Trapper education – approved. It will be run by trappers, applies only to some trappers and will be reviewed at times by trappers and some FWP personnel.
  • Mandatory Leghold Trap Modifications were deleted. A single center swivel under the trap is all that will be required.
  • Trappers in Region 1 & 2 will each be able to trap and kill 3 instead of 2 otters within the quotas.
  • Denied for public comment was a 24 hr trap check requirement. Roughly 200 signatures, almost 90% Montanans, plus numerous pro-wildlife/animal organizations, a dozen of which were from Montana, and together represented tens of thousands of supporters, signed on to a well documented letter compiled by Zack Strong of NRDC! TFMPL helped circulate the letter and we wish to thank all those that signed on!

FWP reported receiving 282 comments. 43, i.e. 15%, were from trappers.  Here is FWP's summation of the comments.  Reminiscent of 2016, they failed to acknowledge the aforementioned letter. It remains quite evident who is driving the bus. TFMPL, however, is not getting out of the road and we’ll continue to fight for ethical, responsible, science based management of our wildlife.

The Montana Wildlife Commissioners voted to open the following trapping proposals for public comment:


Mandatory trap modifications, mandatory trapper education, increase otter/trapper in regions 1 & 2.
Not included were: Mandatory 24 hour trap checks; tagging/quotas for beaver.


At the June 7, 2017 public meeting, a Montana Trapper’s Association trapping instructor and a few FWP personnel presented a working session about trapping to the Wildlife Commissioners. Contributions trappers make to science and how highly regulated trapping is in Montana were emphasized. Afterwards, the hearing was open to the public for the discussion on Fish Wildlife and Park’s (FWP) 2017 trapping proposals.

It is no secret we oppose trapping, but it is important we all advocate for trapping reform, not be silent or ignored.

PUBLIC COMMENT CLOSES SUNDAY, JULY 16, 2017 AT 5PM MST.   Link to submit comment is below. 

Here are Trap Free Montana Public Lands’ position on the 2017 trapping proposals and our requests:

    We support any trapping modifications and regulations that might help ease pain, suffering and injury.

    When the welfare of the animal takes priority, as in research and relocation efforts, more expensive but less damaging traps and frequent trap checks are utilized by wildlife professionals. Many trappers, including Montana trapping instructors, oppose requiring improvements, i.e. leghold traps with offset, laminated jaws, extra swivels.  FWP states the trap modifications would be costly to trappers. Trappers trap by choice, not to eat, or to survive. The costs should not trump the need for mandatory trap modifications evident in the scientific findings.


     From a comprehensive review of animal welfare standards of killing and restraining traps, “We conclude that many of the practices  commonly used to trap mammals cannot be considered humane. Current legislation fails to ensure an acceptable level of welfare for a  large number of captured animals. New welfare standards for trapping wild mammals need to be established so that in future a  minimum level of welfare is guaranteed for all trapped individuals.”    

     According to the American Veterinary Medical Association“Any sanctioned use of leg hold traps should be accompanied by evidence that their use is necessary and the most humane option that meets the needs of the research or other sanctioned use.” 

    The type of trap and modifications are rather insignificant when animals can legally be left trapped for days, weeks, a month ….  in Montana.

    Trapping season is in the winter to obtain the finest furs. Trapped animals are exposed to the elements, dehydration, starvation, frostbite, leg dislocations, mouth injuries, and predation. The research shows the longer the animal is trapped the greater the injury and less chance for future survival. Trapping is added mortality to rare, protected, and endangered species. The majority of the other states require daily trap checks.

    “Reducing the time in traps by either checking more frequently (Proulx et al 1993) or monitoring traps with electronic devices can reduce the number of serious injuries (Kaczensky et al 2002; Potočnik et al 2002; Larkin et al 2003).

    Twice, Zack Strong, of NRDC, has submitted proposals for mandated 24 hour trap checks. In 2016, FWP claimed 24 hour trap checks was too much to ask of trappers. However, the Wildlife Commissioners encouraged FWP to work with all on trap check intervals and said they looked forward to it for 2017.

    We are in the works with all stakeholders on trap check time.”   said John Vore, Montana FWP Game Management Bureau Chief, at the 7/13/16 Wildlife Commissioners hearing. 

    Despite Mr. Strong’s request, public knowledge of TFMPL, and the highly supportive response for involving all user groups during FWP’s “15 and Forward” vision planning, FWP spent 6 months working with only two groups, i.e. Montana Trappers Association and Montana Fur Harvesters. Together they concluded no to mandatory trap checks. 48 hours is only a recommendation other than bobcat sets in designated lynx habitat and for wolf trap sets.

    Repeatedly, this proposal it is not opened for public comment. Don’t let that stop you from submitting comment insisting on 24 hour trap checks!

    The goal is to recruit new trappers, increase MTA membership, and try to improve the poor image of trapping in the public’s eye.

    On the surface mandated trapper education might appear beneficial but our concern lies with who, what, why, and potentially, where.

    The classes would be taught by trappers, i.e. Montana Trapper’s Association (MTA). In trapping classes they say they promote ethics. Trappers, among them MTA active members, directors, and volunteer trapping instructors, have publicly bullied, name called, harassed, stole from, deceived, and even threatened anti-trappers. In addition, the MTA remains under litigation/settlement for failing to disclose a minimum of $25,000 in their fight against our 2014 ballot I-169 initiative.

    Josh Bransford, depicting his prowess in the public photo, in front of the trapped bloodied wolf, had taken a mandated Trapper Education Class and was taught ethics, too. He would be exempt from needing to take the mandatory trapper education class in Montana.

    Josh Bransford, with his smiling grimace in front of the trapped bloodied wolf, took a mandated Trapper Education Class and was taught ethics, too.

    Many trappers, including the potential instructors, are opposing requiring any semblance of humanity insisting again that it be up to the trapper’s choice.

    MT - Specific trap Best Management Practices (BMPs) are not presented in the voluntary MTA course.

    Warden Captain Anderson told the Wildlife Commissioners that among trappers there is good compliance of the regulations. This raises the question why, then, is a mandated class necessary? Anyone born after 1985 and also anyone who has purchased a trapping license in the last 5 years would be exempt from taking the class. Does that mean those excluded are not breaking the law, not getting caught, or do our few and lax regulations negate any charges?

    There has been no mention of a cost to take the trapping class. Pittman Robertson funds would be used. Unlike guns and ammunition, there is no excise tax on traps. Wolf trapping certification would be included. The trappers and a few FWP staff would form a committee to provide the oversight of the classes.

    Given the behaviors, the motives, the bias, and the lack of inclusion with ALL user groups, we cannot support this proposal and believe mandated trapper education without warranted regulation is senseless.

    FWP justification for proposing trappers in these 2 regions "possession" of 3 otters writes, "it's to match opportunity with distribution." Region 1 went over quota on otters 4 of 5 years. The response was to increase the quota. Again, trapping is consumer driven and isn’t based on science.

  5. REQUIRE TAGGING OF BEAVER AND SET A QUOTA:   Include in your comment
    Your support is needed. Beaver can be trapped in unlimited numbers for recreational purposes 5 ½-9 months out of the year and trappers need not tell anyone. Outside of the beaver season, beaver can be trapped for property protection claims. We do not know how many of these critically necessary keystone species remain or how many are being trapped and killed.  This is completely contrary to science based management and change is long overdue.


    An average of 60,000 wildlife are reported trapped and killed in Montana, annually. These are just the ones reported!

    Please speak up for them!

 Respectfully in your own words, submit your comment to  Montana FWP regarding the trapping proposals.

You can also email and phone the Wildlife Commissioners: 
E-mail: fwcomm@mt.gov

Wildlife Commissioner’s decision making public hearing will be August 10, 2017, in Helena.

District 1:  Tim Aldrich: 
Phone: (406) 542-3144

District 2: Chairman Dan Vermillion
Phone: (406) 222-0624


District 3: Vice Chair Richard Stuker
Phone: (406) 357-3495


District 4:  Logan Brower
Phone: (406) 230-2188

District 5:  Shane Colton
Phone: (406) 670-2374

Map of Commission Districts

Map of Montana Commission Districts
© Trap Free Montana Public Lands 2017

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Trap Free Montana Public Lands (TFMPL)
PO Box 275
Hamilton, Montana 59840

Phone: 406-218-1170


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