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I-177: Bad for Montana agriculture, recreation, hunters & more.

Don’t miss I-177 on the ballot Nov. 8. The measure proposes to ban trapping on public land throughout Montana. Purported by animal rights activists, it has huge ramifications for Montana agriculture when it comes to protecting our livestock and water resources.

The ballot language allows trapping on public lands by either Montana FWP or U.S. Fish and Wildlife.  It alleges that livestock producers would have due recourse in dealing with predators, but as usual, the devil is in the details.

There is a myriad of hoops a rancher must jump through before a government official can set a trap on public land. First, a rancher must provide on-site evidence of predators causing habitual injury to livestock. Next, non-lethal predator control methods like guard dogs, range riders, fencing, carcass removal and herd relocation are required by I-177 before a trapping permit may be issued. These methods take time, cost money and there is no guarantee they will be successful at preventing livestock loss. If a rancher does secure a permit, traps may only be set by an employee of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services or the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks. Traps are only allowed on public land for no more than 30 days in any calendar year.

There are potential consequences for irrigators as well. I-177 limits the ability to trap and remove beaver from Montana waterways on public lands. Bear in mind that, below the high water mark, stream beds of navigable waterways are considered public land in Montana. Before a beaver may be removed, flow devices must be installed and maintained. All of this takes place at the expense of Montana tax payers.

Trapping is an effective and necessary tool when it comes to controlling predators and preventing livestock loss. According to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services data from 2015, 959 predators associated with livestock predation were removed via trapping. Defeating I-177 in November is crucial to protecting Montana agriculture—vote ‘NO’.

You can find the complete ballot language here: http://sos.mt.gov/Elections/2016/BallotIssues/assets/I-177.pdf

For more information on I-177 visit http://www.mwpla.com/.