Anja Heister


Thomas Zwick’s June 15 guest column in response to mine “Under massive extinction threat, recreational trapping must end” (May 25) was misleading and false, and needs the following corrections:

1. He willfully misreads my statement of 1 million plant and animal species in danger of extinction to be about Montana only. However, it is clear I meant globally. The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystems Services (found that "around 1 million species already face extinction, many within decades, unless action is taken to reduce the intensity of drivers of biodiversity loss." 

2. His dismissal of my estimate of 60 million beaver in North America in 1492 because Columbus didn't hit shore is asinine. In fact, a USDA APHIS study claims that 60 million to 400 million beaver were here before European settlement of North America. 

3. I referred to recreational trapping of beaver. Trapping is managed solely as recreational by FWP.

4. Zwick claims that over 10 years only 3,081 fur bearers were trapped. This is completely false. Fact is that in 2013-14, trapped fur bearers, predators and nongame animals was a total of 53,000 animals — reported by only one-third of trappers.

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5. Glacier Park is, in fact, an apex watershed, feeding the Pacific, the Gulf of Mexico (which feeds the Atlantic), and Hudson Bay, which feeds the Arctic Ocean.

6. Evidently, Zwick did not read the story about the hiker in Montana who stumbled into a serrated leg hold trap, which luckily caught the edge of her boot and not her toes, nor about the Helena teen who got caught in a trap. He ignores the fate of a woman who had a near heart attack while trying to free her dog from two traps, and had to be airlifted to the Bozeman hospital. An unknown number of dogs and cats are caught and not reported each year, including dogs on leash.

7. By claiming that trappers have a right to endanger people and pets on public lands, he confirms that trappers are elite and exalted above all other public land users to the point that they can keep the majority of people off our public lands due to the threat of traps. No one is allowed to leave a trip wire that activates a gun, or even a fishing rod with a hook on it on public lands. Trappers have a sense of entitlement that is unjustified and would be illegal in every other instance.

8. I do agree with Zwick that all public lands users should support FWP. Please contact your congressional representatives and ask them to support the Recovering America's Wildlife Act. We all deserve a say in management of our publicly owned wildlife and public lands.

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Editor's note: According to an FWP report online, over a 10-year period, the total number of fur bearer, predator and nongame species harvested by trappers in Montana ranged from 37,201 animals in the lowest year to 72,591 animals in the highest year. Anja Heister, PhD, lives in Missoula and is a co-founder of Footloose Montana, which promotes trap-free public lands.