Vote NO on Initiative 177: Anti-Trapping

Vote NO on Initiative 177: Anti-Trapping

Dear MWGA member:

It is not often when I write to the full MWGA membership. Such times are limited only to the most pressing and important topics. This is one of those times as there is an election issue that is impacts the continued health of Montana’s domestic sheep industry. As such, I write to ask for your help.

For the last several years, agriculture production has come under attack across our country. In several states, including California, agriculture producers have lost their ability to protect their livestock from predators by means of the enactment of trapping bans. That fight has now come to Montana.

On November 8th, 2016 Montana voters, including yourself, will decide on Initiative 177, which would ban all trapping on public land. Without trapping, Montana will lose a key tool in controlling problem predators, including wolves and coyotes. If passed, I-177 would require livestock grazers to use NON LETHAL means on predators killing your livestock, contradicting what science and our professional wildlife biologists tell us. The impact on Montana’s agriculture production will be devastating as predator kills are one of the top reasons for economic loss for producers.

Equally problematic, if I-177 passes, it will send a strong message to groups that oppose multiple use of public lands that Montana is vulnerable. As we have already seen by the filing of lawsuits challenging the ability of sheep producers to graze on public lands, these types of attacks will only continue unless we are able to head them off now.

The simple truth is that we cannot let Montana’s game harvesting and agriculture heritage be further eroded. That is why the MWGA needs your help in ensuring that I-177 does not pass. You can help achieve this goal in two ways.

First, when you get your ballot, we ask you to vote against Initiative 177. We also ask you to ask your friends, family and neighbors to oppose the Initiative.

Second, we ask you to financially support the group formed to oppose the Initiative — the Montanans for Wildlife and Public Lands Access (MWPLA). This group constitutes a partnership by and between agriculture groups and Montana sportsmen and women in order to defend against this clear attack on game damage management.

MWPLA is working hard to fund an educational campaign through television and radio ads that informs Montana voters of the devastating consequences of I-177. MWPLA is crafting a message that will educate Montanans of all stripes of the fact that wildlife should be managed by professionals, such as by USDA wildlife services, for the benefit of all Montanans. Unfortunately, as we know through our advocacy efforts on behalf of MWGA’s producers, this type of voter education campaign is expensive.

It is our understanding that MWPLA is working to raise $500,000 to fund the television and radio ads.

That is where you can help by contributing to MWPLA’s voter education campaign. Your contribution will go a long way toward making sure that agriculture’s opposition to I-177 is heard by the general public in time for Election Day.

Your contribution will also help ensure that Agriculture’s voice and interests are not drowned out by the lies and half-truths spread by opponents of agriculture and game damage management. Please take a few moments out of your day to make a donation to MWPLA using MWPLA’s website. The website address is http://www.mwpla.com/donations.htm and the front page of the website is http://www.mwpla.com/.

It is MWGA’s hope that Montanans still recognize and understand the benefits of trapping as a wildlife damage management and population control tool. However, given what is at stake this election, we can’t take any chances. The ability of agriculture producers, such as yourself, to protect their livestock is being put to a state-wide vote. And now it is up to each and every one of us to do our part to defeat I-177 as it is bad public policy.

Thank you for your time and attention. On behalf of all of us at MWGA, we thank you for your continued support and efforts.

Dave McEwen
MWGA President

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