From Footloose Montana 

Footloose Montana reminds you that trapping season for most furbearers—beaver, otter, muskrat, mink and swift fox—started November 1 and lasts 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 most 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. Wolf trapping runs from December 15 through February 29.

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 zip ties or 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. Wolf traps must be set back 500 feet from high recreational-use trails and roads. Please see Fish, Wildlife and Parks 2019 Furbearers & Trapping Regulations (http://fwp.mt.gov) for a list of these trails near Bozeman.

On trails not listed as high-use traps can be set only 50 feet away from trails and roads, and 300 feet from trailheads.

Please note that roads closed year-round to vehicles (but not snowmobiles or 4-wheelers) have no setback requirements. Traps can be set right on the roads.

Be aware that no restrictions apply to conibear or other traps placed in water or on land covered by high water when the trap was set, including creeks, rivers and lakes. 

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, migratory birds, 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 (info@footloosemontana.org; 406-282-1482 so they can be posted on a map at www.footloosemontana.org for people to reference in order to avoid trapped areas.

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