By: Randy Shelton
One of the initiatives on the Montana ballot this November was I-177. As written, I-177 would only allow trapping to take place once a problem arises, and only after determining that non-lethal means were unsuccessful. The initiative was strongly opposed by The Montana Stockgrowers Association, Montana Outfitters and Guides Association, the Montana Trappers Association, the Wild Sheep Foundation, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, the Montana Bowhunters Association, and Montanan’s for Wildlife and Public Land Access.
Many felt that I-177 would also end up costing state and federal wildlife agencies thousands of dollars in order to remove problem animals from the wild and keep predator populations in check. This is something that licensed trappers currently buy a license to do and in doing so, generates money for the state. Additionally, many felt that I-177 conflicted with two of the major tenants of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation, specifically the idea that wildlife belong to the public and that science is the proper tool for determining wildlife policy.
Montanans rejected the Initiative by voting 62% against and 37% for. So, for the time being, farmers and ranchers can continue to rely on trapping for the management of problem wildlife to protect their stock.