Covey: Hunting & trapping good for families, communities and wildlife

.…..and a low-carbon producing food source

By Mike Covey

In the middle of broad concerns about a climate crisis, can you imagine anyone wanting to deprive Vermonters of what is perhaps the least carbon-polluting and most organic food source? Wanting to force dependence on a polluting and often poisoned industrial food supply chain? Denying their neighbors the health and mental benefits of their connections to the outdoors? Discriminating against, what are for many, spiritual rituals?

We keep hearing from anti-hunting activists that the general public is somehow injured by the fact that hunters, anglers, and trappers harvest wildlife. I would like to see that defined. Exactly what is the injury to the general public when portions of that very public are allowed to engage in hunting, fishing, and trapping?

Meat harvested by hunting is local, organic, and has a tiny carbon footprint compared to industrial food production.

If the injury is simply that some dislike the idea of the activities, then the conversation becomes moot. Their recourse, in a civil society, for disliking these activities is to simply not partake in them. Instead, what we often see is the public doxxing and virulent attacking of community members by toxic social media presences that decry hunters and others as sadistic, evil, abusive, perverse, and worse. Anti-hunting organizations have on more than one occasion directed their followers to leave poor reviews on Yelp and Google for businesses they felt should be punished for the “atrocities” of supporting hunting or selling fur. 

Why would we accept the idea that outdoor enthusiasts are acceptable to vilify and cancel as some seem to believe? It’s frankly perverse and has no place in a mature discussion. 

These people are not “wildlife advocates” as they try to brand themselves, they are animal rights activists and it’s time we got that language straight. Their position isn’t rooted so much in any concern for wildlife welfare as it is in a deep-seated hatred for those of us who pursue wildlife. How do we teach our children to be kind even in disagreement if we are going to accept this behavior in public discourse?

If you want reliable information from a true wildlife advocate, go to the Fish and Wildlife Department or go find a hunter, a trapper, or an angler. 

The benefits of having wildlife accessible to those who wish to enjoy pursuing and utilizing it cannot be overstated, and while we see regular opinion pieces from the acolytes of the anti-hunting groups pontificating on how they want to see this or that activity banned, here is an equally strong argument: I don’t, and I speak for a great number of people who feel the same. Hunting and trapping are good for the families who engage in them, the communities they live in, and the wildlife resource itself. The mere fact that some people simply don’t like it is the worst possible argument for doing away with the lifestyle that so many Vermonters enjoy. 

Beyond the spiritual, mental, and health benefits to the individual, the link to carbon reduction, hunters and trappers provide the best tool to manage our wildlife populations and work toward keeping them in balance with their habitat. Furthermore, the sporting community contributes 70-80% of our Fish and Wildlife Department’s funding, and hunting and trapping are the second largest sector of Vermont’s outdoor economy.

How would we replace all of those added values that the hunting and trapping community currently happily pay to provide the state and all of its citizens with? 

We hear complaints from these radicals that too much of the Fish and Wildlife Department staff engages in these activities. One might more properly contemplate that perhaps the reason many of our wildlife specialists pursued a career in conservation was because they grew to care about the environment at a very young age through hunting, fishing, or trapping.

Finally, and this is important, we hear classist statements about how only x% of Vermonters engage in practice A or B, and therefore those folks, their pursuit of happiness, and their lifestyle should be deemed irrelevant and done away with. This is abhorrent to the concept of a free society. Would we accept that type of biased dismissal of any other demographic or are we seeking to be a more enlightened society with a space for all?

The wildlife we pursue is ubiquitous and secure for all uses, so prejudiced laws that exclude citizens from hunting and trapping do not merit a moment’s discussion. This is especially true when the entire impetus is a group of activists with an axe to grind and a questionable degree of morality in how they grind it. In a time where we are striving to reach a standard of inclusivity, the only thing we should be legislating against in Vermont is hypocrisy and hate, not a healthy self-sufficiency in harmony with the renewable lifecycle of nature.

The author is a lifelong resident of Williamstown, outdoor enthusiast, and Executive Director of the Vermont Traditions Coalition.

Categories: Commentary, Outdoors

9 replies »

  1. Wow ! Thanks, very well said Mike. We’ve already made too many concessions to the antis in my opinion. Remember when the “Department” used to be the “Fish and Game” Dept ? Why did they change it to Fish and Wildlife ? Why is it that if we were lucky enough to harvest a deer we used to have to transport it exposed so it could be seen by law enforcement. Now it’s strongly suggested that we hide it, like we are ashamed to show it. Now we are constantly forced to defend ourselves by newly arrived, holier than thou urban refugees that don’t know the difference between a conservationist and a preservationist. Welcome to Vermont Fish and Wildlife management 2.0 .

  2. Wow. Sure a lot of angry name calling there. You are entitled to your opinion and those of us who feel that hunting and trapping are not a God given right, are allowed to have ours. There are just too many bad apples in your basket and too little enforcement from VT Fish & Wildlife for me to ever agree with your misguided bellowing. I have personally witnessed your bad apples doing bad apple deeds – so preach all you want, call us whatever you want, but we will continue to trash talk bad hunters in memory of all the pets killed, all the wildlife killed and left to rot or worse, maimed and left to die a slow and painful death – all because you and your ilk want a spiritual experience. Do you have a pet Mr.Covey? Dog, cat? Imagine watching it die in an illegal leg or neck trap. Another dog was killed just this week. Why don’t you ask the animal’s owner what spiritual, mental and health benefits they experienced. BTW – I found it amusing that you used “carbon reduction” in defense of hunting. I’m curious about the carbon footprint left by the ATV’s the hunters are using these days. And I suppose all those pick up trucks that drive slowly up and down my road looking for something to shoot are all energy efficient as well. Yeah – you just keep on beating your chest Mr. Covey.

    • That vehicle driving slowly on a Vermont, back road? Could have been me. As my mother struggled with Alzheimer’s she much enjoyed riding for hours “looking for deer.” She could vividly recall the old homes and meadows she once frequented. Seeing a deer was just a bonus.

      Wildlife left to rot or suffer? Wildlife seldom dies a peaceful death. Predators, starvation and disease are the rule. Most are eaten alive as they wither and bleat in pain. Scavengers insure the remains often disappear overnight.

      Memory of pets killed? Like most native Vermonters, I grew up with cat and dog. So did my friends, cousins, and neighbors. Odd thing, of all the people I knew and know now, not one had an animal shot by a hunter. However, my adopted barn cat met his demise by a brazen fox. Of late, coyotes claim every stray cat that appears around the house within a few days.

      Spiritual experience? Yeah, pretty much. The relationship between a respected man and his son upon reaching an age to be entrusted to join on a hunt is profound. The lessons of patience and focus in spite of numbing cold, coping with disappointment season after season, learning to study and outwit a quarry all build character. Until my beloved, father’s health failed him, hunting together with my brother and I cemented a bond few young men today have the privilege of experiencing.

  3. Sorry, Pissed: You’ll have to remain pissed as you’re not convincing any of us who abhor trapping to change our passioned positions… matter how many articles are published on this site.

    As far as you not personally experiencing any neighbors of yours dogs or cats dying after being nailed by one of these barbaric, torturous devices doesn’t mean it doesn’t occur. It has, and the evidence is herein right on the internet/nightly news, & police reports for you to peruse. No one on God’s earth has the right to maim animals and make them suffer simply for you and your son’s(?) benefit.

    As far as spiritual experience? Oddly, my own folks escorted me to church and into faith wherein I learned respect for all living creatures who inhabit this world. My very favorite Saint? Yep, you likely guessed it: Saint Francis, Patron Saint of Animals, who nobly stated: “If you have men who shall exclude any of God’s creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men”.


  4. Yup..Typical. The anti hunters vilify us and then go buy meat at the grocery store neatly wrapped in plastic wrap so they don’t get their precious little hands dirty.. what a joke! Even a true holier than thou vegan kills living things in the process of growing and harvesting their food..