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.
“We’re extremely pleased that the voters in Montana have seen through the shallow rhetoric from anti-trapping organizations about Initiative 177. This initiative would have had a devastating impact on Montana’s abundant wildlife populations, and posed a serious safety risk to pets and people. Worse, it would have forced Montanans to suffer severe losses before being able to deal with problem wildlife,” 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.”
Had the initiative passed, local communities and the state would have had to spend millions of taxpayer dollars to deal with nuisance wildlife issues, such as beavers, skunks and raccoons, as well as depredation upon livestock and decimation of deer, elk and moose herds by wolves 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 dozens of other wildlife, conservation and agricultural groups from across the country.