Thursday, January 8, 2009

House Bill Would Require Classes for Trappers

Thomas Ticknor, 9, of Helena, testifies against a bill that would make training for trappers mandatory in Montana. (Photo by Molly Priddy)

HELENA – The Ticknor brothers enjoy trapping together near Helena during Christmas time. What they don’t need, they say, is a law that would require them to pass a class to do it.

“It’s just more restrictions on trapping that make it easier to outlaw it,” 19-year-old Greg Ticknor told legislators today. “I think that trapper education is great, but I don’t think it needs to be mandatory.”

Ticknor and two younger brothers showed up at the statehouse today as the only opponents of House Bill 62, sponsored by Rep. Robin Hamilton, D-Missoula. The bill would make a trapping education program mandatory for trappers older than 12.

The bill follows complaints in Missoula and elsewhere of pets being caught in traps set near hiking trails and residential areas.

“We’re going to have trapping in Montana in the near future,” Hamilton told the House Fish and Game Committee. “We would like all our trappers to be educated, safe and responsible.”

The state’s current trapping education program is voluntary. Making it mandatory would align it with programs like hunter education. The Montana Trappers Association and the state Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks supported the bill.

But 9-year-old Thomas Ticknor, already a veteran trapper, wasn’t convinced.

“By the time that I am 12 years old and I have to take this class, I will have been trapping for seven years,” he said. “Laws are supposed to keep us free, not give us more rules than there already are.”

— CNS correspondent Molly Priddy

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