Finnie: Hunters, anglers led historic restoration of Vermont wildlife

…..before the advent of non-consumptive users

In 1969, Biologist Bill Drake live-trapped 31 wild turkeys in southwestern New York and stocked them in Pawlet and Castleton Рpart of more than a century of sportsmen-funded wildlife restoration made necessary by late 19th century deforestation and over-hunting.

by Patrick Finnie

In response to a local Protect Our Wildlife representative, I’d like to offer a timeline as to how we sportsmen and women lived without their help before the advent of non-consumptive users. This information is available to the public on the Fish and Wildlife Department’s timeline page:

Here are a few entries on that timeline I have chosen; 

In 1876, Legislature gave the fish commissioner’s authority over game as well as fish.   

In 1878, 17 white-tailed deer were brought in from New York and stocked in Bennington and Rutland Counties.

In 1906, The Fish & Game Department was created with one commissioner.    

In 1909, The first resident hunting license was created at a fee of 50 cents.    

In 1920, Six county wardens were added as full-time personnel with a yearly salary.    

In 1937, Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration (PittmanRobertson) Act (an excise tax proposed by sportsmen, and women) was passed, providing funding to wildlife restoration   efforts in the states.The funding source is a federal tax on the manufacture of sporting arms and ammunition.    

In 1941, Beavers were again found in all 14 counties.    

In 1955, a bull moose was spotted in Reading and another in Plymouth in 1956. Estimated to be 10 in the state. (how many are there now ?)  

In 1969-1970, Biologist Bill Drake live-trapped 31 wild turkeys in southwestern New York and stocked them in Pawlet and Castleton. (Again, how many are there now ?)    

In 1971, the Department gains support for deer management after the movie “Winter Bottleneck” showing deer die off in winter produced, and the last of Vermont’s bounties (on bobcats and rattlesnakes) were repealed 

In 1977, First reintroduction of peregrine falcons in Groton.   

In 1988, Ospreys nested on an artificial nesting platform near the mouth of Otter Creek.   In 2005, Common Loon, Peregrine Falcon and Osprey were removed from the State Threatened and Endangered Species List.

I could not find any data about the historical numbers of black bears, but did find current data which states that “currently estimated at between 4,600 and 5,700 bears” and that “Their numbers are higher today than they have been in 200 years.” 

Sportsmen, and women, and the Fish and Wildlife Department have brought this renewable resource to where it is today, since it was all almost wiped out by land clearing for farming in the mid to late 1800s. All this before the advent of activist groups that oppose the science of wildlife management .Yes, we did it without their help, and we still are !  In closing I would like to say that if you are interested in wildlife, and supporting a whole ecosystem agenda, you can’t do better than investing your  money in the people that have brought Vermont from a condition of one big pasture in the late 1800s, to the healthy, diverse ecosystem that we can enjoy today. You don’t hunt, or fish ? You can still put your money where your mouth is. Contribute to the Non-game tax check off,  buy a habitat stamp, or buy conservation license plates. Protesting those who brought us to where we are today is in this case not a sound investment in the future of our environment. Support sound, proven management practices. Support our Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department.

The author a resident of Calais and a former State of Vermont security officer.

Categories: Commentary, Outdoors

1 reply »

  1. An excellent reminder to those who moved here to run our lives, forget it! People came to Vermont initially to live with nature and the beauty of our surroundings, our mountains, rivers and lakes.

    And now, we have the political class that has come here to line our field with solar panels made in China, rip our mountains apart which took eons to form for monolithic useless windmills and dot the highways with unreliable electric vehicle with batteries made in China. All this, to line their pockets with dark money supplied by those who will construct the damage to our state, bank their billions and leave the mess for us to clean up at some point in the future.

    I am so glad that I had an opportunity to live and grow up as a young man in Vermont. Hunting, fishing and able to go where there was no one else to be one with nature. I personally despise the political class of which 2/3rds are not from Vermont. They bring with them a destructive agenda based on a fallacy, fake science and fear mongering. If these people in the political class are allowed to continue in their overlord positions you will one day look out your windows and nature will be gone. Your mountains will be unsightly monoliths and your fields scattered with fried birds that flew over sheets of cheap glass from China. Vermont as I remember it as a young man, will be no more!

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