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Legislature passes bill to require trapper education course

| March 30, 2021 7:00 AM

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The Montana Legislature has passed a bill to require a trapper education course for most people before they purchase a license to trap animals.

The bill by Democratic Rep. Pat Flowers of Bozeman would require course completion unless the person has purchased a trapping license in three prior trapping seasons or was being issued a license to trap for livestock protection.

The course must include instruction in trapping ethics, best practices, equipment, regulations and avoiding non-target species.

The bill has not yet been forwarded to Gov. Greg Gianforte for his signature.

The legislation would also help eliminate an issue in the state's licensing system that allowed Gianforte to buy a license to trap a wolf without completing the state's mandatory wolf trapping educational course.

In most cases, the state's Automated Licensing Service tracks a person's purchase history and education certifications with the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks and automatically prevents users who don't have proper certifications from buying licenses.

Completing the wolf trapping course currently isn't a prerequisite for buying a general trapping license because the license can be used to harvest a number of species, FWP spokesman Greg Lemon told the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.

Gianforte had all the required licenses and tags and reported trapping and shooting the wolf outside Yellowstone National Park in mid-February, the wildlife agency said.

Gianforte said he completed the three-hour course this week after receiving a warning for having not taken the mandatory educational course. The violation was first reported by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration among regional public radio stations.