A proposed initiative to ban trapping on all U.S. public lands is unconstitutional, according to Gary Marbut, president of the Montana Shooting Sports Association.

Marbut has sent a letter to Jon Bennion with the Montana Department of Justice detailing the reasons why the proposed public trapping ban would violate the Montana Constitution. Marbut said on Friday, January 24, that the right to hunt, fish and trap is guaranteed under the Montana Constitution in Article IX.

"The Montana Shooting Sports Association, of which I am president, pressed a measure before the 2003 legislature in House Bill 306, to put a constitutional referendum on the ballot to amend the constitution to put the right to harvest wild fish and game animals into the constitution, and protect it forever from this kind of assault," Marbut said. "So, I have suggested to the Montana Department of Justice that they need to reject this initiative, send it back for reworking to see if it can be made to be constitutional, although I suspect it cannot be consistent with the constitution and accomplish what the proponents want."

Marbut said this anti-trapping initiative is simply a stepping stone to banning sport hunting altogether.

"This is not just a Montana issue," Marbut said. "We've seen attempts like this to end any kind of harvest, especially of large predators throughout the Northwest, including in California, and this is just part of the same playbook. Their goal, of course, is to eliminate hunting altogether eventually. However, what they will do right now is just try to fill the woods with predators, so there won't be anything left for the rest of us to hunt."

Marbut is confident that the constitutional argument will convince the Montana Department of Justice to back off from its support of the anti-trapping initiative.

"The handwriting is on the wall," Marbut said, "The message is clear enough that this initiative will not pass constitutional muster, s the Montana Department of Justice should simply reject it."

Montana Shooting Sports Association President Gary Marbut