Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Montana mulls proposal to keep wildlife trappers' identities secret

Officials say proposal was prompted by hunters and trappers who complained about harassment and threats from public

theguardian.com, Tuesday 7 October 2014 23.00 BST

Wildlife officials are proposing to keep confidential the names of hunters and trappers who kill any wildlife in Montana, saying that information that can be obtained under the state’s right-to-know laws is being used to threaten and harass.

An existing state law already bars Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks from disclosing identifying information about hunters who kill bears, mountain lions or wolves. This proposal would expand that confidentiality to trappers and include all game animals, furbearers or other species under the department’s management.

The Fish, Wildlife and Parks plans to introduce a bill in the 2015 legislative session. The confidential information would include just those who have taken an animal, not all licensed hunters and trappers, Fish, Wildlife and Parks spokesman Ron Aasheim said. The state agency tabulates information such as the name and address of the hunter or trapper and the location of the kill, which is now public information except in the case of bears, mountain lions and wolves.

The proposal comes after Montana lawmakers in 2013 made confidential the previously public information of people with concealed weapons permits, a move made by many other states across the nation. Aasheim said the passage of the concealed-carry bill did not influence the decision of the wildlife agency to introduce its bill.

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