By Joey Avocados
HIDE PARK, VT- They say that life imitates art, and that truth is stranger than fiction. These old adages seem to be coming to bear in this small Vermont village in the heart of the Green Mountain State.
The occasional sighting of a bear has not been uncommon in Vermont neighborhoods. But since food scrap composting bins became mandatory on July 1, 2020, bears have become a formidable problem for Hide Park residents. No longer content with the occasional nighttime foray out of the woods to raid garbage cans and bird feeders, marauding bands of bruins have literally taken over the streets.
House Speaker Nancy Lugosi’s Ursa Initiative – a resolution disparagingly referred to by opponents as the “Goldilocks Resolution”—seeks to re-home this bear population. To where would she re-home the bold bears?
Lugosi stated, “Let’s face it: the bears have the right of eminent domain; they were here long before we were. These fur-bearing members of our global community are stressed enough without making an already difficult situation completely unbearable. We’ve already destroyed their habitats with burgeoning human overpopulation, and this is just one step we can take in the right direction.”
Rep. Mike Bayer of Barre, who disagrees with Lugosi’s proposal, said, “No, this is actually a step in the left direction. A huge step, really. Where does it go from here?”
Bayer’s remark alludes to another resolution now being drafted which would expand re-homing to deer and coyotes. Critics call it yet one more dab of bear grease on their already tenuous hold on property rights.
Lifelong Hide Park resident, Bill Bering, recently posted his comments on Back Door Quorum. “Look, I love and appreciate wildlife as much as the next guy. I’ve been hunting for my entire life, and have enjoyed many an autumn day in the woods with my sons, teaching them to be responsible and ethical hunters. But when they outlawed hunting in 2022, that was the last straw. Excuse me, but the only time Bambi is allowed in my living room is with his horns hanging on the wall. If Roadrunner sticks his head in this house, he’s going to find himself in my wife’s closet hanging up with her other winter coats.”
If passed into law, the resolution would be known as the Homeless Wildlife Protection Act.
“A great disservice was done to our wildlife family through widespread use of derogatory terms such as ‘predators’ and ‘nuisance animals.’ Such public shaming will no longer be tolerated in a community that thrives on tolerance, regardless of the color of one’s skin or fur,” said wildlife biologist Patricia Deere. Deere said she is seeing a paradigm shift in public attitudes towards bears.
“You know, I grew up hearing the saying, ‘A fed bear is a dead bear,’ but I’m seeing people’s attitude about this changing. I think our brave little state can lead the way in evolving a completely new public perception towards our ursine family members, choosing to focus on bears’ self-esteem concerning food, rather than prejudicing the dialog with references to death. We must find solutions and do better to more intentionally protect our precious state treasure.”
When asked about how bears were treated by19th century westward-traveling “rugged individualists,” Deere replied, “These so-called ‘pioneers’ actually displaced bears from their homes, in many instances even using guns to shoot them. Historical documentation has recently uncovered evidence which shows that in many cases, the guns used were assault muskets. In addition, it is now common knowledge that a disproportionate number of these bears were targeted because of their color.”
“This would be a completely unsustainable model today. Science clearly supports the data, and historians agree that the majority of these so-called pioneers were rich white racist American males who, frankly, had no business venturing off into areas with which they were unfamiliar. The damage they did is incalculable.
“It is also a well-known fact that Thomas Jefferson had early-onset Alzheimer’s disease due to nicotine-induced brain damage from his excessive smoking of tobacco grown on his slave-owning plantation. When he drafted the Second Amendment, he was under the influence of brain fog and had intended to pen the words, ‘The right to arm bears shall not be infringed.’ The error was never caught in the final draft by the proofreader, who was a Republican.
“This was an egregious, if not intentional error, and since then bears have never stood a chance.”
ACLU attorneys have petitioned the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to amend the Second Amendment to contain its original wording, and thereby revise history back to what it was intended by our founding persons.
Moving forward, de-homing the human population in Vermont will not be so easy, however. It’s really a two-phase process. Here’s how it will work:
Phase One is based on composting violations, and takes a “three strikes and you’re out” (of your home) approach. But in order for Phase One to be enforced, Phase Two contains certain criteria homeowners will have to meet to forfeit their homes.
“We think this is a very equitable and workable solution for everyone. There are some fairly rigorous criteria that must first be met,” said Lugosi.
Phase Two in a nutshell:
1.) Your household income must exceed 50K per year.
2.) You own more than one fossil fuel-burning vehicle.
3.) You have more than two children.
This then raises the question: Where will these de-homed humans be re- homed?
No permanent solutions have been finalized, but a joint resolution is also before the House calling for the allocation of $450 billion from taxpayers to provide government subsidized housing for those forfeiting their homes to bears.
Protests in front of the statehouse in Montpelier have become more frequent. In a show of solidarity with the bears, four buses arrived from Oregon on Monday packed with picketers from the group “Black Bears Matter.”
We interviewed one of the protesters who is angered that evicted homeowners will still be required to pay property taxes on homes they no longer live in. Walter Behrman of St. Johnsbury is organizing a grassroots campaign called “Take Back our Homes”. When asked for his opinion on the proposed resolution, Behrman said, “My wife and I built this house, lived here for forty-two years, raised all six of our children in it, paid off the mortgage twelve years ago. I can’t believe they’re even suggesting we’d have to leave because a stray piece of Saran Wrap accidentally got mixed in with the food scraps in my compost a couple of times. I have a difficult time imagining that this is what our forebears had in mind when our nation was founded.”
Sharp disagreement has also arisen even among legislators within the newly-formed Demmunist party. Those opposed to the proposed resolution have been referring to their colleagues who have voiced support for it as “Re-cublicans.”
“While admittedly bears do leave a large track, the size of their carbon paw print is proportionately far smaller than that of humans,” argues Lugosi. “There really is no better time than right now to embrace homeless wildlife and to be a voice for inclusion for all members of the global community, human and otherwise.”
A similar resolution was recently passed in California. One notable difference in legislation between the two states, however, is that face masks for bears will not be required in Vermont as they are now in California.
“We’re trying to take a gradual approach here and don’t want to overwhelm our citizens with extraordinarily burdensome regulations,” explained Lugosi.
As for now, proponents of the bill in Vermont are content for bears to agree to voluntary compliance.
“They’ve got the social distancing thing down, no problem,” said Rep. Lucy Barry of West Dummerston. “Face masks may present a bit more of a challenge for them, however. But we are hopeful that the re- homed bears will eventually come to accept wearing face masks out of respect for their new neighbors.”
One final provision of the bill yet to be decided on is whether or not contact tracing will be required as bears move into their new homes.
How will the new law be enforced?
Responsibility has been given to the LRSWGCEIMD, which stands for Lamoille Regional Solid Waste Garbage Composting Environmental Impact Management District. The purview of this agency, nicknamed the “Kompost Kops,” has been expanded to the authority equivalent to that of the Department of Fish and Wildlife, and like game wardens, agents are fully-armed. They will be taking a three-pronged approach to enforcement of composting violations.
The newly appointed composting czar, Steve Baird, said, “We prefer to define our mission simply as ‘The Three I’s,’ which stands for Instigate, Investigate, and Incarcerate.”
When asked asked her opinion about the formation of the new environmental enforcement arm of the state government, Rep. Susan Bayer-Lee commented: ”Vermont has needed this for a long time. Rising global temperatures caused by irresponsible composting has threatened to destroy the very heart and soul of Vermont, which is our vast network of cross-country skiing, rail trails, and microbrewery tours. These laws need to be rigidly enforced.”
Rep. Max Baer strongly disagrees with Bayer-Lee’s comments. “They should shorten the name of this new agency to SW, which very accurately describes the Solid Waste my colleagues across the aisle are full of.”
Rep. Baer went on to further explain his frustration with the changes. “How do you reconcile the fact that Vermont has introduced more climate change legislation than any other state combined, yet we have the highest unemployment rate in the nation? While no new industry has been allowed in Vermont for the last eight years, not a single one of these climate change initiatives has ever been proven effective at lowering Vermont’s mean temperature even one degree.”
Mother handcuffed and tased in front of her four young children
When the Recycling Police—KK for short—found a 1”x1” piece of plastic wrap in her kitchen food scrap compost bin, Duxbury mom Shelly LaBaire tried to explain, but instead was immediately tased, handcuffed, and taken into custody. This all took place while her four children witnessed her arrest.
LaBaire’s children were removed from their home and taken into the custody of the Child Protection Oversight Committee, chaired by Rep. Ann Barren, who was the chief sponsor of HR.57 in 2019.
Apparently, one of LaBaire’s neighbors happened to see her bringing her food scraps out to the compost bin one evening.
“I noticed the sun glinting off of something shiny. Upon closer inspection, I saw part of a Snickers wrapper and decided to call the authorities. They arrived within minutes.”
Tearfully, the mother insisted in court that she had been teaching her children how to sort, and her youngest must have missed separating the wrapper from the organic matter.
It has been twelve weeks since the incident, and she has still not been allowed to FaceTime, Zoom, or even call her children. She will be permitted no contact with them until she completes an environmental impact rehabilitation training course which lasts for twelve weeks.
The House resolution is supposed to hit the Governor’s desk this week, and he is expected to sign it into law. Once that happens, the answer to the question that has always been regarded as a metaphor to denote something obvious —“Does a bear defecate in the woods?” — may no longer necessarily be true. At least not in Hide Park, Vermont.
Joey Avocados is the less-talented cousin of Johnny Bananas. He was raised in Isle LaMotte by seagulls. Nothing he writes about actually happened.