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Letters: HB-138 unnecessary and harmful to many

For private landowners in Montana, please consider these facts in opposition to HB-138 which would allow trapping on private land without written permission of the landowner.

It would be quite easy for a trapper to claim they had, “Spoken to someone,” as a claim they got permission, with no real proof the property owner actually gave consent.

In the meantime, trappers could sneak onto private land, set traps that present a clear and present danger, without the land owner ever being aware of what was happening.

People sneak.  People lie. HB-138 would put private property owners and law enforcement in a terrible “he said/she said” position.

HB-138 also makes a Conservation License optional. A Conservation License is legally required for all resident and non-resident licenses to hunt, fish and trap. They only cost $8.00

A telephone number and a conservation tag are important so that landowners can find (and report) trappers who are trespassing. HB-138 would shield trappers from liability and culpability for actions on land they had no right to be on.

This bill is unnecessary and harmful to many, benefiting only a few. Currently, all that is required is getting written permission to trap on private land. For individuals who have respect for the rights of others, it is a piece of paper. That’s not hard to do and it is the right thing to do.

Who is liable if something happened—the land owner? They might want to check to make sure their insurance coverage is up to date. Trappers could take over private property just like they have public lands.

Quite frankly, I’m amazed at the audacity of the sponsor of this bill to even propose such an aggressive move to trample on the property rights of Montana land owners.

This bill is currently being debated at the legislature.

Please contact your state representative immediately to vote NO on HB-138 to protect your children, property, pets, livestock and native (possibly endangered) species.

Dorothy Filson, Bozeman