Montana’s Initiative 177 was soundly rejected by voters in the Gem State on the Nov. 8 ballot. The initiative would have banned trapping on the state’s public lands and forced private landowners to document the used of non-lethal means for at least a month before using traps to resolve nuisance wildlife issues. While the final tally is still being determined, a vast majority of precincts have already reported and sportsmen are winning by a wide margin, 63 – 36 percent.
After years of failing to qualify a trapping ban for the state’s ballot, anti-hunting organizations turned to paid signature gatherers in order to do so – qualifying the initiative at the last moment in July.
“Initiative 177 was a bad measure. It was bad for wildlife management and bad Montana in general. It was unsafe, expensive and would have forced Montanans to suffer severe losses before rectifying a situation,” said Evan Heusinkveld, president and CEO of Sportsmen’s Alliance. “Today, sportsmen, ranchers and everyone concerned with scientific wildlife management protected the state, its citizens, resources and, most of all, wildlife by defeating this initiative by a landslide.”
Had the initiative passed, local communities and the state would have had to pony up millions of dollars to deal with nuisance wildlife issues such as beavers and raccoons, as well as depredation upon livestock and decimation of deer, elk and moose herds by wolves, mountain lions and coyotes.
The only states that have enacted a ban on trapping are Arizona, California, Colorado, Massachusetts and Washington. Similar to the Montana initiative, these bans claim to allow trapping by the state if necessary. In reality, I-177 only allowed trapping to take place once a problem existed and after demonstrating that non-lethal means had been unsuccessful.
The Sportsmen’s Alliance led a group of the most prominent sportsmen and wildlife organizations in Montana in the effort to defeat I-177. The group, called Montanan’s for Wildlife and Public Lands Access (MWPLA), was made up of the Sportsmen’s Alliance, Montana Trappers Association, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Big Game Forever, Montana Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, the Montana Outfitters and Guides Association, the Montana Bowhunters Association, the Montana Shooting Sports Association and the Montana State Houndsmen Association, along with other conservation and agricultural groups.
About the Sportsmen’s Alliance: The Sportsmen’s Alliance protects and defends America’s wildlife conservation programs and the pursuits – hunting, fishing and trapping – that generate the money to pay for them. Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation is responsible for public education, legal defense and research. Its mission is accomplished through several distinct programs coordinated to provide the most complete defense capability possible. Stay connected to Sportsmen’s Alliance: Online, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.