Posted: Dec 16, 2012 9:37 AM by Beth Beechie
Updated: Dec 16, 2012 9:38 AM
GREAT FALLS - Despite Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks extending last year's wolf season, only 75% of the quota was met.
This year there is no set quota and for the first time in decades, wolf trapping is allowed in the state.
Saturday marked the first day of wolf trapping season, and that has drawn opposition from some Montana residents.
Members and supporters of Footloose Montana gathered in Gibson Park on Saturday to work toward their mission of eliminating trapping on public lands.
Footloose Montana is a non-profit organization based in Missoula that aims to have trap-free public lands in Montana.
Members said they hoped Saturday's rally would raise awareness about the dangers they see in trapping on public lands.
Group supporters said trapping is a cruel way to catch any sought after animal.
Footloose member Sue Ann Stephenson-Love said, "The other problem with trapping on public land is that traps don't discriminate, you know, they're hidden, there's no warning for them and they're baited, so family pets can get and do get into them all the time."
Stephenson-Love said Footloose chose Saturday to rally because it's the first opening day of wolf trapping since the 20s.
But experienced trappers said there's a common misconception of traps and trappers.
"When the trap is sized appropriately for the animal, it's nothing more than a set of handcuffs," said Jim Muscat, a former trapper from Bozeman. "And that's why, like I've said, I've caught my own dogs, which are the same size as the animal I was after, at that time it was probably a coyote or a bobcat. And not to say it doesn't startle them. I've caught myself and it startles me. But it doesn't crush my bones or cut my skin or anything like that."
Montana has no requirements for how frequently traps must be checked. But Muscat said he, and most trappers he knows, set their traps and frequently check to see if any if they've had any luck.
About 2,400 people have been certified by Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks to trap wolves in the state this year.
FWP encourages dog owners to minimize risks by staying on well-used routes and keeping pets close by.
They also encourage trappers to avoid setting any traps in heavily-used areas.
Montana's wolf trapping season runs until February 28th.