Montana: Opportunity for Public Comment Regarding Trapping Regulations

Contact: Ellary TuckerWilliams, Inter-Mountain Western States Coordinator

On August 15, the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission will be holding a final opportunity for public comment, before making decisions on numerous topics which included nine proposed changes to trapping regulations.

The proposed regulation changes include:

  1. Change language for setbacks on public land roads and trails to: “Roads and Trails – Ground sets including snares require a 50-foot setback from the edge of roads and hiking trails that are designated by administrative signs or numbers. Exception: Roads closed year-round to motor vehicle and OHV use are not subject to these setbacks, for instance, Kelly-humped roads that are inaccessible to motor vehicle and OHV use but are lawfully accessible by snowmobile.” [Note: snares would not be mentioned in the wolf regulations because they are not legal for wolves, and the setback for wolves would be 150 feet]. To be consistent and better avoid conflict, the 50-foot setback would also apply to ground sets using 7X7-inch and larger body-gripping traps along county roads with no defined right of way. The current setback is 30 feet from the center of the road.
  2. Change pelt-tagging requirement for fisher, otter, bobcat and swift fox from within ten days of harvest to within ten days of the calendar close of season.
  3. Require furbearer and wolf trappers to report all non-target captures. Define “non-target capture” as: “The capture of any animal that cannot be lawfully trapped, including domestic animals, must be reported to FWP [Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks] within 24 hours. Any such animal that is uninjured must be released prior to the trapper leaving the trap site. If unable to safely release the animal, call FWP. Exception: Any such animal that is injured or dead must promptly (with little or no delay) be reported to FWP to determine disposition and/or collection of the animal.” Animals that may be lawfully trapped are furbearers or wolves for which the season is open and an individual possession limit has not been reached, nongame wildlife and predators. A trapper may not trap any game animal, game bird or migratory bird.
  4. Remove the word “incidental” from the regulations and replace with the more accurate “excess take” which is defined as the take of a legally harvestable species after the season is closed or an individual’s possession limit has been met.
  5. Formally adopt the current language for ground set, water set and relaxing snares.
  6. Clarify the definition of a center swivel to be: “A swivel located on the underside of the trap as near the center of the base plate as reasonably possible. The swivel can be attached directly to the base plate at the center, attached to a D-ring centered on the base plate, or can be included in the chain at a point no more than five normal chain links from a centered D-ring or base plate attachment point at the center.”
  7. Lower fisher quota in the Cabinet Fisher Management Unit from one to zero.
  8. Create a personal marten quota in Region 1 of ten per trapper.
  9. Lower bobcat quota in Region 2 from 200 to 150.

The public meeting will be held at Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) Headquarters in Missoula at 3210 Spurgin Road. The meeting will begin at 8:30 am, with the discussion on trapping regulations occurring sometime after 1:00 pm, according to the agenda.

Individuals who are unable to attend the meeting in Missoula can watch via a live stream. Additionally, members of the public will be able to view a live television feed of the meeting at all FWP regional offices and FWP Headquarters at 1420 E. 6th Ave., Helena.

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