A Local Trapper's Education

Jordan P. Ingram

The debate over animal trapping for sport has created sharp differences of opinion in the outdoor community and probably won’t be resolved any time soon. The Rocky Mountains have long been an abundant source of fur both at home and abroad and for now, will continue that role. 

And amid all the controversy, trapping is still quite prevalent today. But whether it’s for sport, commerce or population control, trapper safety and education is paramount in preventing careless and dangerous practices from spilling over and affecting the general public’s enjoyment of the outdoors.   

The Montana Trapper’s Association, in partnership with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks department, will hold a trapping education course in Bozeman. The class is free and open to the general public, and attendees will receive a certificate upon completion of the course along with a trapping handbook and supplemental materials.

 The class will include regional biologists and local game wardens to address everything from animal health and safety, rules and regulations, traps and equipment, fur handling, the history of trapping and ethical trapping practices. 

“We want trappers of all skill sets to be better trappers as far as understanding the animals and trapping in the most humane way possible,” said Brian Stoner, a longtime hobbyist trapper and committee chairman of the Montana Trapper’s Association. “We want people to use the right equipment and to go after targeted animals in the proper manner.”

While fur prices are on the rise, a sizable portion of modern trapping serves the utilitarian purpose of pest control for area ranchers. 

Coyotes present a threat to ranchers with sheep and livestock, beavers can cause flooding in farm fields and horse pastures, and badger holes can injure grazing livestock, Stoner said. 

 Nesting birds and deer fawns can also fall prey to unchecked coyote, raccoon, skunk, beaver and badger populations, he said. 

Trapping also helps prevent the spread of diseases such as distemper from raccoons and foxes to household pets.

“The biggest hurdle that trappers have is dealing with an uneducated general public,” Stoner said. “We are out there to enjoy the outdoors, recreation, keep people and pets safe, and trapping is very useful in helping manage predators and animals that can’t be managed through hunting.”

The class will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 13 at the Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks Regional Headquarters, 1400 S. 19th Ave. in Bozeman. 

For more information on the education course, contact Brian Stoner or Fran Buell with the Montana Trappers Association at education@montanatrappers.org or Claire Gower at MFWP at cgower@m.gov.