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State trapping-education workgroup meets Friday

by JOHN MCLAUGHLIN
Daily Inter Lake | February 9, 2022 1:00 AM

A workgroup of trappers and wildlife officials will resume work Friday in Polson to produce the state’s newly required trapping education program.

State legislative action last year, Senate Bill 60, required the program effective March 1. Mainly, new trappers and those with fewer than three seasons of state licensed trapping are required to take the course. It also will encompass the state's required wolf trapping certification.

Coursework will include trapping ethics, best practices, equipment, regulations and avoidance of trapping non-target species, according to Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks.

​​”The main goal of the trapper education program is to impart the knowledge and skills to be an ethical, humane, responsible, legal, and safe trapper,” the department said in a recent release.

In Polson, the workgroup developing the program consists of three trappers — two of the Montana Trappers Association and another from Montana Fur Harvesters — and three FWP staff members. The Friday meeting will be their fourth, all held in Polson.

Wayde Cooperider, FWP’s outdoors skills and safety supervisor, and group facilitator, said the panel is working to get the program up and running by late summer.

“The Fur Harvesters, Montana Trappers Association and FWP coming together to put together a much needed program; we’re all pretty excited about it,” Cooperider said. “I’ve been very enthused about how hard-working this group is.”

Montana’s many furbearer seasons — which include beaver, bobcat, otter, swift fox, fisher, marten and others — largely start in November with varied end dates through May.

Cooperider said the group has been focused on submitting for web publication the online component of the education requirement. The program also includes a mandatory field day.

“So they would take our online courses, for example, pass that, and then sign up for one of our field days,” Cooperider said. “That’s where we go through, do the hands-on activities, show them about the different traps, and trap types, and sets and types of sets — ways to be safe.”

On Friday, Cooperider said the group will walk through an initial draft of its field day presentations, which should cover most of the meeting.

The meeting starts at 9 a.m. Friday in Polson at the Red Lion Inn and Suites, 209 Ridgewater Drive.

The public is invited to attend. A period for public comment on agenda items will be provided toward the end of the meeting. FWP is now looking for volunteers to help teach the program.

Reporter John McLaughlin can be reached at 758-4439 or jmclaughlin@dailyinterlake.com

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