Tuesday, October 11, 2016

After decade of work, Montanans will consider banning trapping on public lands

A call to the phone number for Footloose Montana, the organization behind the initiative to ban trapping on Montana’s public lands, yields only an automated voice requesting you state your name for the party’s approval. Only if Footloose accepts your call will you be directed to organizer Chris Justice. The system was implemented after a series of anonymous death threats. The phone security is one of the first hints of the intensity of the debate over the initiative, I-177. It’s also a fight that has been going on since a couple founded Footloose in 2007. The group has mounted two failed attempts to get I-177 on the ballot. This year, after nearly a decade, Justice and the group gathered enough signatures to qualify for the ballot. Although a central argument against trapping is the negative effect on protected and endangered species, Footloose’s campaign has focused less on wild animals, and more on domesticated ones. Just how big of a threat traps pose to pets is a point of contention between the two sides, but many proponents of the issue are people who have had their own pets injured in traps. Betsy Brandborg, who investigates complaints against lawyers for the Montana State Bar Association, is one of those advocates. Brandborg’s Airdale, Polly, had her trapped by leg-hold snares on three separate occasions near Helena. The first time was what sparked her interest in the issue. The second was what solidified it...more

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