Montana Trapping Ban on Public Lands Initiative (2014)

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The Montana Trapping Ban on Public Lands, Initiative 167 may appear on the November 4, 2014 ballot in Montana as an initiated state statute. The measure, upon voter approval, would prohibit trapping “fur-bearing animals, game animals, migratory game birds, upland game birds, large predators, predatory animals and certain non-game wildlife” by non-authorized individuals on any public lands within the state, including public land leased to private parties.[1]

Text of measure

The proposed ballot question would read as follows:[2]

This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.

I-167 makes unlawful the trapping of fur-bearing animals, game animals, migratory game birds, upland game birds, large predators, predatory animals, and certain non-game wildlife by any means on any public lands within Montana, including public lands leased to private parties, subject to limited exceptions. I-167 allows trapping for scientific purposes, migratory game bird propagation, and falconry, and also allows trapping by state and local officials to protect public health and safety. However, the commercial use of any animal or bird trapped on public land for any allowable purpose is prohibited.

I-167 will result in the loss of approximately $65,040 in trapping license revenue to the state. In addition, the state would incur financial expenses for state employees to conduct trapping of nuisance and conflict animals. These costs cannot be reasonably determined.
[ ] YES on Constitutional Initiative I-167.
[ ] NO on Constitutional Initiative I-167.



  • Trap Free Montana Public Lands[3]
  • Footloose Montana[4]


KC York, chairperson of the Trap Free Montana Public Lands ballot initiative committee, provided the following reasons to support the initiative campaign:

  • "Many Montanans want trap free public lands for their safe use, for their companion animals, for treatment of wildlife consistent with the principles of ethical hunting, to restore beaver ponds increasing riparian habitat, trout habitat, big game browse and natural fire breaks, to increase the wildlife and rare species we value and which many people come to see adding a further sustaining boast to our economy."[5]
  • "I-169 only affects trapping and only on public lands. According to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, nearly 65% of the state is held in private ownership. The rights of the private land owner, as well as hunting and fishing rights, remain protected. There are exceptions for trapping on public land for public health and safety, scientific research, migratory bird propagation, falconry, relocation, medical treatment or if the nuisance and conflict animal problem has not been or cannot be abated by reasonable nonlethal methods. Rodents, other than beaver and muskrat, can continue to be trapped. Our initiative is fair, reasonable and good for Montana."
  • "One thousand six hundred and thirty-five bobcat were reported trapped in Montana this season. Cost to the trapper, a mere $29 trapping fee. As usual, four out of seven districts exceeded their quota — this time by an additional 62. Guess what? The trapper still gets to keep them! Sixty-two amounts to $18,600 to $62,000 added blood money, and those pelts are sent to China and Russia, predominantly."[6]

Other arguments in support of the initiative include:

  • Rancher Steve Clevidence said, “I happen to be a member of a seven generation Montana ranching family. I extend my endorsement to Trap Free Montana Public Land’s initiative, as I and my family feel that even though trapping may have once been part of our state’s history, it does not need to be a part of Montana’s future. Our public lands are just that, public lands and therefore every citizen has as much right to use those lands in relative safety without fear of traps and snares strewn across the landscape waiting for unsuspecting victims. Trapping needs to be recognized as cruel and unethical treatment of animals and should be abolished on our Montana public lands.”[5]



  • Montanans for Effective Wildlife Management[7]
  • Montana Trappers Association[8]
  • Montana Shooting Sports Association[9]
  • Montana Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife


  • Keith Kubista, president of Montana Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, argued, "As Montanans, we must protect our rights to public land use and guard against those who wish to eliminate our way of life just because they don’t agree with what we do. The long-standing tradition of trapping lives large across our treasured state. I urge you to reject Initiative 169 and ponder this question — what outdoor activity prohibition is next on the animal rights activists agenda?."[10]

Path to the ballot

See also: Laws governing the initiative process in Montana

Supporters need to collect 24,174 valid signatures and submit them to the Office of the Secretary of State by June 20, 2014 in order to place the initiative on the November ballot.

See also

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