House Endorses Trapping Bills

By Beacon Staff

HELENA – The House endorsed plans Monday to require trapping education for new wildlife trappers and to tighten standards for fur dealers.

Supporters say trapping enthusiasts were seeking the education requirement as a way to make sure everyone understands how to properly follow the law. That bill was endorsed by the House on a 51-47 vote, although it needs one more vote in the House before it is sent to the state Senate.

It would require new trappers to go through a course similar to what is currently required of hunters. Current trappers would not need to take the course.

“Simply, it makes the current optional trapper education program mandatory,” said sponsor Robin Hamilton, D-Missoula. “The trapping community supports this bill.”

Opponents said the measure would just create more needless government regulations.

“It grows government,” said Rep. Ken Peterson, R-Billings. “It requires the department to take this over, to run the show and make sure everyone takes the course. I don’t think it’s that big of an issue, and I don’t think we need to do this.”

The House also endorsed a plan by a 50-49 margin that would toughen regulations on fur dealers. It would require the dealers to better track the source of the fur to make sure it was legally caught.

The trapping and fur industry originally opposed the plan, although agreed to support it after some changes were made.

Opponents worried the extra regulations might make it harder for people to get involved in the hobby, and might make it tougher on the casual trapper.