Abenaki Tribe Councilman: Trapping is a way of life for indigenous people

By Michael Bielawski

Many Vermonters spoke regarding concerns over new trapping rules developed by the Department of Fish & Wildlife on Thursday evening – including a voice from the state’s indigenous population stating that trapping is “a way of life” for their people.

This was the third public hearing on the subject hosted by the Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules (LCAR). Next LCAR must vote on the final proposals based on Acts 159 and 165 concerning trapping and coyote hunting respectively.

An Indigenous person speaks

Of 39 speakers, the last scheduled to speak was Jaime Taylor, an Elnu Abenaki Tribal Councilman. He detailed how his people have a long history of trapping.

Jaime Taylor

“We have fought for our hunting rights, fishing rights, and trapping rights,” Taylor said. “As of recently we were given our trapping rights. I’m here today to speak to the fact about trapping as from an indigenous perspective. As the gentleman before me said, this has been going on for generations. My ancestors did this, I do this, my people do this. And now we have the right to do it.

“And now we’re about to lose it. We haven’t even had a chance to do it yet. Trapping is a form of hunting, whether anyone wants to believe it or not. It’s a way of life for indigenous people.”

Traps must be 100 feet away from trails

First to speak was Catherine Gjessing who is general counsel for the Department of Fish & Wildlife. She addressed new setback requirements for traps in regard to Vermont’s numerous trails.

“We expanded the definition to include not just a pedestrian path, multi-uses such as hiking, biking, horseback riding, and the like,” she said. “We also included in that definition the Vermont Rail Trail, The Long Trail, and The Appalachian Trail, all of which have really good websites that really show where those trails are. All of those would be subject to a 50-foot setback.”

Opposition says rules “do not protect” animals, pets, or people

JoAnne Bourbeau, the Northeast Regional Director for Humane Society of the United States spoke in favor of strong restrictions on trapping.

“While the HSUS appreciated being at the table for these conversations, the recommended rule largely ignores the inputs and recommendations of the humane groups that were involved,” she said. “And instead just proposes that trappers and hounders [coyote hunters] use ineffectual self-imposed modifications.”

She continued, “The Fish and Wildlife’s proposed recommendations do not protect wildlife, pets, or the public. And we don’t believe they meet the legislative intent of Acts 159 and 165.”

She suggested that the current proposals are not adequate for assuring that animals are released or killed using the most humane methods.

A Vermont native speaks in favor of trapping

Vermont resident Courtney Ferenc spoke in favor of protecting hunting and trapping rights. She talked about how families that practice hunting and trapping are taught over generations to do these things with care.

“Hunting and trapping is a fundamental part of our lifestyle,” she said. “Our family spends countless hours outside in the woods enjoying this beautiful state, doing all sorts of recreation. Our children have been taught responsibility, ethics, compassion, and many other valuable life lessons while hunting with hounds and while trapping.

“These lifestyles are long-standing family traditions passed from generation to generation. My grandfathers were avid hunters and trappers, my father is an avid hunter and trapper as well, my husband’s family is the same.”

A copy of the proposed rules can be read here.

The author is a reporter for the Vermont Daily Chronicle

Categories: Outdoors

18 replies »

  1. Trapping is a way of life for most people who enjoy taking wildlife, especially the indigenous people, who understand the way of the outdoors as a way of life, the only ones who have an issue with trapping are the BMW-driving, Latte-drinking liberals, they don’t see any reason on killing an animal, but it’s Ok, when they flatten an animal with their vehicle, Oh that’s different…… hypocrites !!

    • So long as its a hybrid flattener! Didn’t you know that Henry Ford was only trying to make a squirrel-flattener?

      • As noted in another post here, I am a native Vermonter with a history going back to 1760 with my forebears. I am an avowed conservative, I’d bet more conservative than you. And I drive a hybrid. Why? Not because I’m trying to save the planet. The climate change nonsense is the biggest hoax perpetrated on us since the invention of hoaxes, IMO. But, I went from a Subaru getting 22 mpg on a good day to a Ford pickup getting 39 mpg on average. That cuts my fuel cost by nearly 50%, and the cost of the vehicle was no more than any other decent vehicle currently available. You should think more before making sound bite posts that make you feel good but contribute nothing.

    • No, you are wrong. My forebears came to Vermont in 1760. I am not a BMW-driving, latte-drinking liberal. I am a strong supporter of the Second Amendment and heartily endorse hunting and fishing, and am a dyed-in-the-wool conservative. But the leg-hold trap is a cruel, barbaric method to harvest fur. If I were to ever come across a leg-hold trap in the woods, I’d disable it and remove it, and feel great about so doing. No sentient being could possibly argue that the leghold trap is humane and appropriate. Shame on you and shame on anyone using such an inhumane and barbaric animal killing device. Totally disgusting.

  2. We are apparently living on land stolen from indigenous people. Should not Vermont cede all State lands to the Abenaki Tribe and let them make the land-use decisions?

  3. Thank you Mr. Taylor. I find it unfathomable that these “animals rights” people try to make their case at a time when fish, and wildlife populations are (no thanks to them) at, or near all time highs even non native coyotes. I just have a issue with the disingenuous arguement by these people that the populations of our wildlife are in bad, or untrustworthy hands.
    Oh, and if you don’t want your pet to get caught in a trap, keep it on a leash ! If your unleashed dog runs out in the road, and gets hit by a car is it the motorists fault ? The dog would not have been hit if properly leashed. So who’s fault is it when a free ranging dog, or cat gets caught in a trap ? And to those who would counter by saying that there are no leash laws in my town, therefor ….. There are a lot of stupid things that are not against the law. Just try and be the brains in the human/pet dichotomy . Your pet is your responsibility, not the “village”.

  4. Well, well, well – I await the DEI activitists to come out in force to cancel, mean tweet, and publically denounce this indigenous elder immediately. Is that crickets I hear? What a great week of boxing the charlatans into the corners of their own deceit and fraud.

  5. No issue supporting indigenous peoples traditional way of life.

    I have a problem with the cultural appropriation of steel legs traps or rifled weapons in support of traditional ways.. can’t have it both ways and selectively go in and out of a culture when you play the culture card.

  6. I’m curious – since some had ancestors from the eighteenth century here in the Colonies (not truly certain what significance that has under ANY application under the US or VT Constitution or State law or under the Right of Movement Amendment or anything else as an American is an American is an American. Period.) but can you ALSO then proclaim you have a “traditional” “right” to keep slaves, or a tradition to dominate women & “lash” them if they are “disobedient”? Golly, I was under the impression that most posters on here are abashedly critical of those who don’t follow the law. And having your canine companion accompany you as long as they are under voice control, isn’t “stupid”. It is: The. Law. Torturing animals is what is stupid.

  7. Tolerance of other traditions and cultures, foreign and domestic, is key to achieving respect. Nothing is more true when traveling internationally, or relocating to Vermont from a metro area.

    Thirty years ago my business travels took me to Asian industrial centers, far from any tourist destination. Was not uncommon to see starving dogs in tiny cages awaiting fur processing and consumption. Grilled cats being hawked by street vendors were seen as well. My local counterpart detailed how in the not so distant past, enemy occupation and famine were a realty. That older citizens had maintained a taste for the foods they grew up with.

    Yes, the sights were unsettling to my frame of reference. But to insult my host with cries of “I’m Offended!” would only gain me the reputation of one more, ugly American.

    Trapping, hounding, hunting, and fishing are a way of life in Vermont since the first Indigenous people set foot here, perhaps 18,000 year ago. To virtue signal, insult and attack the value system of the very people you live among and rely on, reeks of a selfish, ugly, intolerant existence. Keep in mind, these are the very people that staff your fire department, ambulance, police departments, fix your cold furnace, deliver your fuel oil, fix your neglected car, plow your driveway in a blizzard, and march with the VFW in the Memorial Day Parade. May want to reflect on just how selfish you choose to be in a small, Vermont community.

    • Indeed, indiscriminate killing of anything is abhorrent.

      But I stand with NEK’s sentiment in this case. I mean no disrespect to those who don’t. But letting the ‘animals’ fend for themselves is a far less noble virtue than most of us who grew up watching Walt Disney’s wholly unrealistic version of life on earth (e.g., Bambi or Perri the Red Squirrel) apparently believe.

      Perhaps when the surrealistic self-righteous come across a deer carcass while ‘hiking’ in the woods, half eaten by coyotes from the hind quarters while it was likely still alive (tortured?), they will be equally offended. Never mind the starvation that occurs when the balance between predator and prey is distorted. Life can be brutal at times. But there is a balance in nature, and we are all part of it.

      That doesn’t mean the coyote is any more ‘evil’ than are those of us who hunt and fish in order to put food on the table. Sometimes we’re just unsure of what ‘additives’ are found in the food processed by others, even when it comes from a ‘Whole Foods’ market.

    • I’m sorry, but you don’t appear to understand the significance the US motto of “Though many, One.” You don’t seem to be able to comprehend that a person who arrived in the USA legally & has become a citizen herein for one minute has the exact same rights as does any other American whose family arrived at these shores during the colonial era. You don’t seem to want to admit the reality that the US CONSTITUTIONAL LAW GUARANTEES the lawful & legal right to freedom of movement within the states for ALL citizens and that you & your ancestors don’t have now, nor never had 200 plus years ago, any MORE or any ADDITIONAL rights than any US citizen who relocated to VT one minute ago. That’s the LAW. That’s the VT Constitution. That’s the US Constitution. I have as much right as do you and your forebearers did (who came here from elsewhere – presumably EUROPE) to be here whether YOU like it or not, whether you respect AMERICAN tradition or not, and whether you respect US law & the US Constitution or not.

      I also have every right to have my opinion heard and will continue to speak out against this cruel, primitive, heartless, inhumane “sport” and there is nothing you or anyone else can do about it except to continue to empower me and encourage my opposition through your anti-Constitutional diatribes and clannish, pedestrian, discriminatory, and insular attitudes.

      Your sickening accounts of domestic dogs & cats being eaten by foreigners & your equally sickening diatribes of how you “respect” the “tradition” of their acquiring a “taste” for this “tradition” is nauseating. But we’ve been through all this before and as long as you repeat the same imbecilic ideas of what you believe it is to be a “real Vermont resident” _ I’ll very simply continue to reiterate, in order to remind the readers, that TWO-THIRDS of Vermonters OPPOSE trapping based upon a poll taken, in part, by the Department of Fish & Wildlife, and continue to voice my opposition even louder than before to make my voice heard within the State within which I choose to reside.

      And I’ll repeat my query again, as you devotion & adoration to “tradition” runs so deep – do you still believe in the once long-term tradition of holding slaves or the especially long-term tradition of subordinating females – both (and many other once fully LEGAL traditions in the USA) of which a portion of the constituency of the USA valiantly fought to change based upon moral, righteous, & humane grounds. And whilst we’re on the topic of the “imperativeness” of “tradition” – I guess you must ALSO support female circumcision as well – an ancient “tradition” that mutilates young girls and imperils them for life; after all – it is but tradition!

  8. Hunting and fishing is fine. The very small minority of Vermont residents who trap intentionally & conspiratorially include the words “hunting” and “fishing” in this very specific opposition to trapping specifically. Using traps that (yet once again) randomly imperil non-targeted species and kill (according to Nat. Geo) hundreds of thousands of protected & endangered species annually on a national basis is not. Neither is inadvertently domestic animals in the process & neither is having any living & breathing mammal writhing for hours or days (as testified to recently in the VT legislature accompanied by videographic & photographic proof) in pain and fear until it is finally & mercifully killed. Responsible hunters and fisherman have every moral, ethical, & financial reason to continue to hunt and fish — those who “choose” to kill for trophy sport or use inhumane & torturous devices to slowly annihilate is not.

    • Ms. Gaffney, yours are false equivalents all. The hunters, fishers, and trappers I know don’t do any of the activities you cite inadvertently. They do so for food, skins, furs, and responsible wildlife management, as, I expect did most of the so-called indigenous folks in New England over the millennia. And, occasionally, they take pictures of their catch. But while you speak to the Constitution and the rule of law, your citations smack of liberal progressivism. On one hand you say: responsible hunters and fisherman have every moral, ethical, & financial reason to continue to hunt and fish — and in the next breath you condemn the practice as using inhumane & torturous devices to slowly annihilate mammals. If it’s hunting, fishing, or trapping for mere sport, trophy, or sadistic satisfaction, show us who the guilty parties are and condemn them. But don’t throw responsible hunters, fishers, and trappers under the same bus. You might as well characterize all of us as boorish, fascist, right-wing, supremacists, and get it over with.

    • I’ll add two cents worth of reality – the powers that be and their minions cherry pick wild animal rights(?) using emotional triggers of animal abuse and cruelty. They broad-brush hunters as “evil” and paint wildlife critters as innocent, unwitting victims. They are wild animals living in the wild among wild predators and wildly harsh elements. I find it odd the outpouring of condemnation in this instance – Yet, when it comes to child abuse, elder abuse, human trafficking, domestic animal cruelty (which there is more crimes against domesticated critters than wildlife) domesticating and trafficking exotic critters; the haters of hunters have nothing to say and do nothing to protect humans or domestic critters from abuse and cruelty. It’s a plot and a ploy that people fall for way too easily – propaganda works and the true agenda has nothing to do with hunting or trapping.

  9. 1. Marie Mechilde Matilde Pidiwammiskwa (b. 1649 d. 1720) Mi’kmaq
    2. Marie Anastasie Vincent d’Abbadie dit Ste. Castin
    3. Marie Bélisle dit Leborgne
    4. Marguerite Robichaud
    5. Fracoise Jean
    6. Louis Thaddée Couillard
    7. Zélie Couillard
    8. Amanda Cloutier
    9. Joseph Ovila Tondreau
    10. Marilyn Olivia Tondreau
    11. James “Swift Fox” C. Taylor b. 1963
    12. Ashley “Morning Dove” Taylor -and her sister- Jillian “White Shell” Taylor

    From the early School days … into the 1990’s … into 2005 … into this decade …
    Jim Taylor claims he is Cherokee through his 3rd Great-Grandfather in Kentucky who was identified as colored on the record in the book “Invisible Indians: Mixed-blood Native Americans who are Not Enrolled in Federally Recognized Tribes”
    [SOURCE: By David Arv Bragi published in August 23, 2005]

    Later still, he claims to be “Abenaki”. He is a member of the “Woodlands Re-Actor Confederacy” group that is now a member and “Elder” the El-Nu group led by Roger Longtoe Sheehan and resides in Central Falls, Rhode Island.
    “I am also inspired by my father, who was very poor growing up in rural Kentucky, and by descending from a Removal Cherokee great-grandfather.”

    What are the criteria to become a member of your tribe?
    “We Elnu have the same criteria as many other Native communities: You must provide proof of Native descent or ancestry through supporting genealogy records, documents, and the like. We do not recognize the Anglo concept of blood quantum to the extent that we would ever exclude someone based on current blood quantum.”

    [SOURCE: http://blog.nmai.si.edu/main/2016/04/meet-native-america-jim-taylor.html%5D

    [What, wait? So, the “Abenakis” in Vermont (and New Hampshire) bring in members who can prove ANY or none of Native descent, who are NOT ABENAKI from and of Vermont? That’s how Mr. Taylor is an “Abenaki” of the “Elnu group?]

    As one can see, the manipulation of external persona appearance from “White” to “Cherokee” to “Woodland’s Re-Enactor” to “El-Nu” “Abenaki” as time went along …

    300+ years later gives James Taylor of Rhode Island, a member of the Elnu group that was created out of Nancy (Millette) Doucet’s group (2006) as a sub-band later? How is this man Indigenous? So anyone with a 300 year old ancestry is now “Indigenous”? [LAUGHTER].

  10. I wish to respond to the above comment with this, the above comments and falsehoods, disparaging myself and my communities was written by a Convicted Pedophile in Washington state, who later was banished By Abenaki Chief of Missisquoi, Homer St Francis after being caught with a young under age child. He is not a licensed Genealogist and upon being banished from the Abenaki Community his documented mental psychosis is to prove there are NO Abenaki in Vermont or New Hampshire where he currently resides, which sadly he doesn’t have to register as a sex offender due in part he was convicted upon pleading guilty in 09/27/89 prior to Megan’s Law.