By Mike Covey
I want to discuss the root cause of the recent attacks on hunters in Vermont. This type of violence against community members who hunt is a direct result of the way anti-hunting groups in the state have chosen to vilify their neighbors who hunt. This is the natural result of seven years of propaganda and misinformation, and it is entirely predictable.
With terms like sadist, psychopath, and abuser used to describe community members, it is no wonder that such an event has now occurred twice. The surprise, perhaps, is that it took so long. This event and last year’s attack on another member of the community should send a message to everyone associated with these groups, even peripherally, that it is time to step back and re-evaluate their support.
The folks who were attacked were victims, but the perpetrators of the recent attacks were also victims. Victims of an ongoing misinformation campaign that lead them to make conscious decisions to harm fellow citizens. Neighbors who were engaged in lawful activities and were harming nobody.
This event further highlights the need for enhanced penalties to be levied against individuals who choose to harass community members who engage in these outdoor pursuits. We need better deterrents to this type of unwarranted violence.
The facts support the value of hunting as it is carried out across the landscape of our state. Hunters are the single greatest contributor to the security of our wildlife through their financial and on-the-ground support of quality habitat and stewardship; and the value of the locally sourced, naturally occurring, organic food that is represented by hunted game cannot be overstated.
It is undeniable to anyone who can set aside their personal bias and take a look at the whole picture. This is why those opposed to hunting feel such a desperate need to control the narrative – they use emotional appeals to cloud people’s judgment and drive folks down a path, and they know that if they lose that control they lose the audience. Meanwhile people on both “sides” are left dealing with the anxiety created by this manufactured conflict.
The author is a Williamstown resident and Executive Director of the Vermont Traditions Coalition, an umbrella organization representing Vermont’s sporting, snowmobile, forestry, and other traditional interests in the halls of government.