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Remember public safety during trapping season

From Footloose Montana

Footloose Montana reminds you that trapping season for most furbearers—beaver, otter, muskrat and mink—started November 1 and lasts throughout the winter until April 15. Traps are not signed. They are anchored underwater next to stream banks for beavers and muskrats, as well as hidden and baited on the great majority of Montana’s public lands. Traps are indiscriminate and can hurt, maim and kill any animal including domestic pets and livestock that happen to step or nose into them.

On Dec. 1, trapping for bobcat, marten and fisher begins.

Be cautious. If your pet is attracted by smell toward anything, it could be a trap that is baited or laced with a scented lure. Call your companion animal back immediately. Carry extra leashes to release pets from conibear traps and cable cutters for snares. A blanket or extra jacket is useful to cover the panicked animal while working to open the trap. Hiking in pairs is recommended.

Trap ground sets—leg holds and snares—must be 1,000 feet from designated campgrounds and improved fishing access sites. However, roads closed year-round to autos (but not snowmobiles or 4-wheelers) have no setback requirements.

Ground sets must be set back 50 feet from the edge of roads and hiking trails, and 300 feet from trailheads.

Lethal ground sets must be 1,000 feet from designated trailheads accessible by vehicle.

Be aware that no restrictions apply to conibear or other traps placed in water, including creeks, rivers and lakes.

Along high recreational-use trails and roads near Bozeman, the setback has been extended from 50 feet to 300 feet. Please see Fish, Wildlife and Parks 2017 Furbearers & Trapping Regulations ( for a list of these trails.

Near Missoula, trapping is banned in Pattee Canyon, Blue Mountain, Rattlesnake Recreation Area and Bass Creek. Ground sets are prohibited Dec. 1- March 31 at the Lake Como Ski Area in the Bitterroot valley.

Furbearer trappers are required to report dogs captured in traps within 24 hours of finding the dog. There is no trap-check time requirement, however.

Also, trappers setting traps for predators and non-game animals do not have to report dogs caught in their traps. Predators and non-game animals include coyote, weasel, skunk, red fox, badger and raccoon.

It is illegal to tamper with traps or release an animal from a trap. All animals—including pets, livestock, owls, game animals or endangered species—caught in traps belong to the trapper. Footloose Montana has a small fund to pay for citations for saving the life of your companion animal.

Please report sightings of traps and trap incidents to Footloose Montana so they can be posted on a map at for people to reference in order to avoid trapped areas.

 Footloose Montana will present the following free trap-release workshops:

• Kalispell, Nov 10, Friday, 5:30-7:30 p.m. Flathead Valley Community College, Arts & Technology Building, Room 144.
• Whitefish, Nov. 11, Saturday, 1-3 p.m. Whitefish Community Center, 121 E. 2nd St.
• Livingston, Nov. 18, Saturday, 1-3 p.m. Shane Center, 415 E. Lewis St.
• Bozeman, Nov. 19, Sunday, 2-4 p.m. Bozeman Public Library, 626 E. Main.
• Missoula, Nov. 26, Sunday, 1-3 p.m. St. Anthony’s Parish Center, 217 Tremont St.
Missoula, Dec. 3, Sunday, 3:30-5:30 p.m. Humane Society of Western Montana, 5930 Hwy 93 S.

For more information please contact Footloose Montana,, or call 406-282-1482.
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