Rewards Offered in Illegal Trapping Death of Eagle in Clinton

by jhwygirl

Several rewards are available to anyone that has information concerning the illegal trapping of a healthy adult male Golden Eagle near Clinton last month. The damage to the eagle resulted in necessary euthanization.

Kate Davis, executive director of Raptors of the Rockies said “It’s very sad. He was a beautiful bird. There’s no reason this had to happen.”

The illegal trap was without the required ID tags and was also not anchored. The federally-protected Golden carried the 3-pound trap for several days before it was found in Clinton. Its leg, injured beyond repair, resulted in the majestic bird having to be euthanized.

Footloose Montana is offering $500. The Humane Society of the United States is offering $2,500. The Montana Trapper’s Association recently increased its reward to $300. $3,300 is a lot of cash. If you have information on this incident, you can contact the FWP poaching tip line at 1-800-TIP-MONT (1-800-847-6668.)

State wildlife officials fluffed over this criminally negligent tragedy:

State officials said the trap appeared to have been set by an inexperienced trapper because it was not properly anchored and it had its original steel finish, which experienced trappers turn brown with dye and wax so it blends into the environment.The trap did not have a tag with the trapper’s name, as is required by law.

State trapping law prohibits using large bait that can be seen by soaring raptors. When large bait is used, traps must not be put within 30 feet of the bait, in part, to avoid catching raptors.

FWP does not track the number of protected species or “non-targeted” species that are caught in traps. That, in and of itself, is negligent. Jeff Darah, warden captain at FWP estimates that 15 eagles are killed in Region 2 of Western Montana each year, with trapping being one of the causes.

Bob Shepard, vice-president of the Montana Trappers Association, also glossed over the criminally negligent tragedy:

“This sounds like a rank, rank beginner, probably a kid” or a poacher, said Bob Sheppard, a vice president of the Montana Trappers Association. “It’s not something an experienced, conscientious trapper would do.”


I’m not sure that last month’s tragedy in Clinton is negligent. A friend who owns a home in Clinton, who is an avid outdoorsman, tells me that the Golden is the THIRD eagle killed as the result of a similar trapping situations in as many years – the two others were Bald Eagles. Similarities include an untethered Conibear trap, un-weathered or dyed, with bait set on the trap. My friend’s theory is that someone is wanting to trap wandering dogs.


I’m not against hunting – most Montanans hunt for the meat, I believe. Hell, I know many that do it primarily, it seems, to just wander the woods – and a whole bunch of them don’t take their tag until the very last days. Gives them excuse to not miss their last camping before deep winter sets in.

Trapping, on the other hand, seems to me to be a chicken-shit way of conquering wildlife. The hunter doesn’t hunt – he sets a trap and walks away. In Montana, he doesn’t even have to check it. Wildlife deserves a much more noble ending – and man should offer at least that much respect.

Now, to be fair, I can see certain situations where trapping might be needed. About the only thing I can come up with is in situations where beaver wreak havoc on lands and streams. Beavers are industrious fellows, and can realign streams and channels, creating expensive problems in areas where man has impinged on natural habitat.

Not all of those situations have to be solved with trapping, though – there are other alternatives, especially at bridge crossings, where wired fencing has produced successful results.


There is no shortage of local stories. Last March, Filip Panusz and his wife Aneta lost their beloved border collie cross Cupcake in the Rock Creek drainage at the USFS Valley of the Moon trail. The story is tragic.

Liz Kehr, of Kalispell, recounts the horrible death of her Newfoundland cross Buddy.

Victor couple Brian Cherry and Peg Klouda recount the murder of their Great Pyrenees Tio – who was shot twice in the head by a trapper when he became caught in a trap. The couple had permission to have their dogs on the land.

Footloose Montana has a wealth of information on its website concerning the legal issues surrounding trapping and detailing its attempts towards education the public. They also have a very unique way you can both support their organization and save money on phone service, high-speed internet and long distance calling. Essen Communications Corporation, located in Florence, has been offering phone service across Montana since 1996. If you sign on with Essen and mention Footloose Montana (which saves you money right off the bat), the organization receives a $25.00 signing bonus. Call Nicole at (406) 642-3333 to get started.

  1. Trapping, on the other hand, seems to me to be a chicken-shit way of conquering wildlife.

    Woo! Go, jhwygirl!

  2. More chicken-shit ways to conquer wildlife:

    One of the worst-case scenarios I observed was in the Ross Fork of Rock Creek while elk hunting. A trapper had secured a steel cable to a tree limb. On this cable was an aluminum pie plate. Below the pie tin was a chicken wing with an extra-large treble hook secured in the wing. The wing was about 5 feet from the ground. The plate was the attractor. The animal would jump up to get the wing and become impaled on the hook, thus it could not escape. It would hang there and strangle in its own blood.

    A pine marten will investigate any hole it finds. This trapper had built a box, drilled a hole in the box, drove nails in a funnel position pointing inward, cut the heads from the nails and sharpened them. The marten would stick his head in the hole and when he could get no further, try to back out. The sharp nails would impale the Marten in the head, or at least that was the theory.

    Frankly, it all sounds too Jeffrey Dahmer-eque to me. The list goes on, in that regards.

  1. 1 FWP Seeking Input on Trapping Reg Changes « 4&20 blackbirds

    […] My view hasn’t changed on this subject, so let me first just get this out of the way: Trapping, on the other hand, seems to me to be a chicken-shit way of conquering wildlife. The hunter doesn’t hunt – he sets a trap and walks away. In Montana, he doesn’t even have to check it. Wildlife deserves a much more noble ending – and man should offer at least that much respect. […]

  2. 2 Footloose Montana FUNdraiser Thursday at Ten Spoons Winery « 4&20 blackbirds

    […] – the words MTFWP uses – are also meet horrible deaths in traps. I first blogged about Footloose here, when a eagle was killed when it was caught in an illegal trap. It was the 3rd eagle killed out […]

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