Anti-hunting activists oppose Vermont tradition, conservation

by Mike Covey

I take a great deal of offense to the characterization of Vermont’s outdoor community as having simple “bloodlust” and “killing for pleasure,” yet members of our communities are attacked with this false hyperbole at every turn by agenda-driven activists.

Bear and beaver are both excellent table fare, otter and coyote are beautiful furs, and all the species we pursue by lawful, regulated means have ubiquitous populations that are well managed and healthy. Hunting and trapping are not negative population drivers, and therefore the VT F&W Department has a legal obligation to both steward these species and provide access to them for the public.

The idea that hunting and trapping somehow adversely impact the ability of the non-hunting public to enjoy wildlife is a simple lie. Despite the wild accusations of belligerent anti-hunting activists, the fact remains that our wildlife are healthy, widespread, and available to all citizens to interact with in the manner that suits them… including hunters and trappers.

This assertion that we don’t need to hunt and trap to manage wildlife is arguably false. More important, it is irrelevant.

In the absence of an ecological or biological imperative to reduce hunting, fishing, or trapping, we have a constitutionally protected right to enjoy our lifestyles whether or not it offends the sensibilities of a few extremists. These anti-hunting activists have decided their fellow citizens merit no regard, including even the simple courtesy of a civil debate as is evidenced by elitist, segregationist statements such as, “Less than 14% of Vermonters hunt and less than 1% of Vermonters trap.”, that are perennially used as justification for attempts to eliminate our lifestyles and identities.

Rather than discuss the merits and metrics of the activities they have decided should be banned, they have embarked on a campaign of mudslinging, rhetoric, and sensationalism that should be treated as the appalling attack on our fellow citizens that it is.

I place some faith in the general public to see through these tactics and be mindful enough to really look at the issue; to understand that the few examples of bad apples or bad outcomes do not represent the 2,000,000 trap-hours annually in Vermont, or the incalculable hours Vermonters spend hunting by firearm and bow or with their canine companions. The fact of the matter is that in any activity, there are occasionally poor outcomes, and these are NEVER the rule. Why then do anti-hunting activists continually propagandize the small number of poor outcomes that do occur by repeatedly recycling the same few pictures and video clips? The answer is simple- their position holds no legitimacy or merit, so the only way they can achieve their ends is by driving people’s emotional response beyond the desire to know the truth and straight to blind action.

If all you saw of deer hunting were the photos or videos of the occasional deer that is hit poorly and loses a limb, dies a lingering death, or is caught and literally eaten alive by coyotes because of a wound that slowed them down, would you decide to campaign for an end to deer hunting, or understand that these are rare and unfortunate outcomes that hunters seek to avoid? If you watched fish floundering upon release because they had been played too long on lightweight tackle or dragged from the depths too quickly to adjust, would you determine that fishing is all evil and sadistic, or would you understand that occasionally dynamics in the field simply become unfavorable despite the best of intentions?

The hunting community is not as well funded as these activists. They cannot spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on media buys, FPF campaigns, and social media advertisements. The hunting, trapping, and fishing community is, however, a fundamental root of life in rural Vermont. It binds families, communities, and our state in camaraderie, heritage, and even a degree of spirituality. Outdoor enthusiasts spend an incredible amount of time and money working with the Fish and Wildlife Department to steward wildlife, protect and enhance wildlife habitat, and ensure that we are all able to enjoy the intrinsic value these resources provide our neighbors with long into the future.

Have you ever seen an anti-hunting organization donate money or manpower to protect habitat or partner with a Fish and Wildlife Department, USDA, Forest Service, or a university to identify or research potential problems within a wild population? Do anti-hunting activists collectively pour millions into the state’s rural economy and general fund each year as they go about their pursuit of happiness?

The outdoor community values wildlife and a healthy landscape, and that is where we expend our resources. Anti-hunting activists value propaganda and their agenda and their expenditures show it.

Their approach does nothing to actually benefit wildlife, while the hunting, trapping, and fishing community prioritizes the health and welfare of our wildlife over even defending their own lifestyle. I know which group I see adding value to Vermont for everyone. This is your opportunity to think critically about the question being posed and answer it for yourself.

The author is Executive Director of the Vermont Traditions Coalition.

Categories: Commentary

12 replies »

  1. I have never shot a deer but I have a license and have gone hunting. My family have hunted for generations, my brother trapped for years starting as a child in Vermont. For many years towns sponsored a Hunter’s Breakfast for opening weekend for many out of state and resident hunters. Most families grew up on wild game meat in the rural areas and non-rural too it went a long way in feeding families large and small. It also went a long way in controlling animal population and disease as it does today. People need to be more tolerant of Vermont Traditions like they are telling us we need to be with people or they may fall under the heading hyprocrites!

  2. I have also been noticing quite a few posts that are anti-trapping/hunting in nature. This is very concerning to me as a consumptive user if you will of the environment that our creator has left us to manage. I do not believe that all that was put here for us was merely to admire from afar. Are there occasional misuses of these resources? Aren’t there people who abuse or misuse almost every freedom that we enjoy? Those folks should be dealt with individually. These traditions that we Vermonters and the Native Americans before us have respected and enjoyed and relied upon are under attack from groups that do not share our interests in these traditions and would see them eliminated. Be suspicious of those that suggest that they know better than our Fish and Wildlife Biologists. Our professionals’ very livelihoods depend on their knowledge, and real world experience. Also beware of the “divide and conquer” tactic. They start with the easiest marks, the ones with the least participants, trapping. They will then attack bow hunting or divide up hunters by the animal species that they hunt. (Moose, predators, etc.) In New Jersey it was bears, but then again we ain’t “Joisey” are we ? With all the other freedoms that we have been able to enjoy traditionally that are under attack from outside the state and others with the money provided by out of state interests, we need to be vigilant. Don’t let your guard down by believing that the interest that is being attacked is not relevant because you do not partake in that particular interest. Your interest could, and eventually will be their next target. Your voice matters. Use it.

    • No, “we ain’t Joisey”, but we have invited Joisey into our midst…into our colleges and universities, and ultimately into our legislature, statewide offices and city councils through the voting habits of like-minded interlopers and out-of-state funded campaign warchests. They have brought the joisey to us, along with the california and the massachusetts… We voted for this.

  3. Don’t you know these people know everything.
    The problem isn’t them. The problem is more than half the state voted them into office. They have no regard for Vermont traditions.

  4. Those who make the outrageous comments Mike describes have no respect for the traditional rural lifestyle and should be called what they are: bigots.

  5. These anti-hunting activists have decided that, “Less than 14% of Vermonters hunt and less than 1% of Vermonters trap”.
    Ergo, they maintain that this is justification to eliminate our lifestyles and identities. Vermont topped a ranking of states by the portion of adults in 2015 and 2016 who identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) at 5.3%. If we were to base policies on the numbers, would that be justification to eliminate those lifestyles and identities?
    hope you aren’t drinking coffee at the moment, lest you spit it all over your device.

    • Great point. The moonbats pretend to advocate for the “marginalized”…no one in Vermont is more marginalized these days than the self-sufficient, old-time conservatives.

  6. Don’t you have to justify trapping with something other than “it’s a Vermont tradition.” Who cares? Tell me why unregulated trapping should be allowed.

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