By Guy Page
Gov. Phil Scott is adopting a ‘wait and see’ stance on three controversial anti-hunting bills now under review by the Senate Natural Resources & Energy Committee.
The committee is dominated by senators who are receptive to the argument that traditional hunting and trapping is cruel, unnecessary, and reflects an outdated “dominion” philosophy that ignores animals’ rights. Bills under consideration are:
• S.129, transferring rule-making authority from the Fish & Wildlife Board to the Dept. of Fish & Wildlife, and de-emphasizing the more rural makeup of the board;
• S.201, prohibiting the use of leghold traps; and
• S.281, severely restricting the hunting of coyotes with dogs.
Last week, the Senate committee proposed one, highly regulated exception to an outright ban on the use of dogs to hunt coyotes. With state permission, a landowner could allow a coyote hunter with no more than two dogs to take a coyote. The permit would have a short duration of time, and could be renewed only once.
The concession was discussed in the same meeting in which a Fish & Wildlife expert said the cessation of hunting will lead to coyotes becoming “habituated” to humans and developing an appetite for their pets and livestock. Once a coyote is habituated, it’s hard to un-habituate them, the expert said.
Senate Chair Chris Bray promised a committee vote after the Town Meeting week break. He also said legislation that doesn’t meet the March ‘crossover’ deadline can be worked into other bills that have met the deadline already. Bills that don’t ‘cross over’ from their original committee of jurisdiction by mid-March are typically unable to advance for further review for the rest of the session.
Yesterday, Vermont Daily Chronicle asked Gov. Scott at a press conference: “Senate Natural Resources is likely to pass three bills opposed by many hunters and trappers, including a reorganization of the Fish and Wildlife Board, a ban on leg hold traps, and severe restriction on hunting coyotes with dogs. What’s your view on these bills?”
“We’ll see how the debate goes. This is one one body, the Senate, taking up the bill. We’ll see what they do with it, and how it ends up, if it gets to the house, and where it goes from there. I don’t mind taking a look at some of our laws in that regard, and make changes where necessary, but by and large I think our regulations are working.”
Regarding three bills (S129, S201, & S281) All of these bills are being proposed by an anti-hunting group (Protect Our Wildlife) that wants to end sport hunting, and trapping in the State of Vermont. If that takes time, and is painfully incremental, that is what they will do. They realize that they are not going to get their wish list filled in one Legislative session. Let’s say that each of these bills on the anti-hunter’s wish list is granted, do you suppose that they will not be back next year with a new improved wish list ? Don’t let the instigators of these bills, some of whom claim to be “hunters” fool you. More often than not, they don’t know a pump shotgun from an AR, or a Brittany from a Bluetick. They would like you to believe that this renewable natural resource is being mismanaged, but if this is the case, why do we have more whitetail deer, turkeys, black bear and moose, (which were not even present in Vermont when you and I were kids) than ever ? There are even more of the invasive, non native coyotes than ever before. If this is an example of mismanagement, I wish we had more mismanagers like these when it comes to my tax dollars ! They’d be making more money than they spend, and we’d all be getting rebates every year ! In closing I would say keep these people off of the Fish and Wildlife Board, and anything else that they bring to you, please view it with, not just a grain of salt, but a shaker full, and rule in favor of those that have been managing our resources so well that it is now a threat to those that oppose them. Don’t let anybody tell you this is not about Vermont tradition vs. Flatland ideals, it is, and it really is that simple.
I still have no clear concept of what a “flatlander” actually refers to, as I’ve heard “native” Vermonters (or so they like to be called, but of course these “natives” are essentially all comprised of European ancestry) refer to transplants to VT from Colorado & Washington State as “flatlanders”, but whatever. The phrase holds merely a vague connotation for many & not one necessarily derogatory.
The fact is that hunting is of course permissible in all 50 states of the Union, not merely Vermont. New York State including parts of downstate NY as far south as Long Island – have hunting seasons. Hunting is a tradition in NJ & includes trapping season(s) seasons as well. Same with New England’s citified state of Connecticut. Hunters in Vermont might even be snickered at by the big game hunters of the much more wilder west who take down Elk, Caribou, and Grizzley every year. And Northern Vermont’s urban (Burlington) & suburban areas (Colchester, St Albans, St. Johnsbury, etc. etc.) would likely give some out-of-staters coming here from more rural environs a good case of claustrophobia given the tightly packed neighborhoods and some degree of population congestion found in those places.
Hunting remains legal within many state parks and national forests & there are approximately half a billion acres of federal lands to hunt as well as within other locales including waterways & wetlands as well as a host of other public & private lands/properties. Hunting in VT and within the “lesser 49” is not on the brink of extinction by any group from any specific state or states by any means.
Your characterization of VT as potentially one of the last, real vestiges of “vast” wildernesses where NY & NJ State residents & the like are persecuting Vermonters is discriminatory, irrational to a large degree, and clannish. Born & raised Vermonters frequently relocate to or vacation in other states and those from other states sometimes relocate here or choose to vacation here…it’s all part of that sacred “Union” thing embodied in our Constitution and emblazoned upon our currency that connotes from the Latin: “Out of many, one.”
Again, it is solely leg-hold traps that some oppose vehemently due to the already addressed issues of the pain & suffering inflicted upon the numerous mammals with whom we share this earth with which we have dominion over, yet which are owed respect and humane treatment. Many Vermonters have never hunted. Many New Jersey residents have hunted. It’s not the world against VT here but it is the world against unborn humans, a topic I’m much more engaged in from a legislative/legal standpoint.
This isn’t about where one happened by chance to have been birthed – it is yet but a difference of opinion regarding the general treatment of other living, breathing, feeling non-human animals and their fate specifically at our hands.
Ms Gaffney; when your family lines have lived in VT for as long as mine have (4 and 5 generations) then you have earned the right to be called native Vermonters. I am not the only line, there are many others, but we are becoming endangered species. Need I say more.
Yes, Jim. You might need to say more for all the reasons I already listed above. Fortunately, the USA, within its very Constitution (amendments) does not provide any type of “benefit” or special “status” in distinguishing between a resident in any state on their very “first” day of residency any more than those such as TRUE indigenous people whose ancestors have lived here not for 3 or 4 generations but for many hundreds of years.
While I realize this distinction means something to a small denomination of folks on a personal level in VT and in every other state – it again holds no distinction legally & further it has no connection specifically between the pro or anti-trapping contingent and their specific state’s of origin. I have perused the membership role of the primary organization of the wildlife organization in question here who are apparently involved in this & indeed there are, of course, those who you might term “native” Vermonters involved. And I can merely presume that there are trappers here in VT who do not fall under your definition of being “native” as well.
My family were fishermen along the south shore of L.I. for many generations, therefore I very obviously & innately know what is best for Long Island in general, know everything there is to know about the ocean, bays, and fishing industry, and believe the Constitution should be amended to reflect that I hold more rights to the region & the lifestyle than do hundreds of thousands of others. Um…….no.
BUT…..what we CAN do is set aside disparate dining tables in restaurants for those who can trace 0 to 3 generations in VT and then 4 and over here, and then TRUE natives whose ancestors pre-date colonization.
Wait…..that all sounds vaguely familiar….maybe that’s NOT such a good idea for this whole “United” States thingy.
We have 114 acres which we do not post. It too is a working landscape in the sense of birds nesting. orchids growing. coyote, raccoons, trees, gardens thriving. I do eat meat, I do not hunt. I am aware of all sorts of lifecycles around us, animals, plants humans and more living their lives out unmolested here. We humans do not own the earth, we share it. I have to say having dogs jump out of trucks, howl and run all over our yard, fields and woods is awful because I know those dogs are running some animal, bear, coyote, raccoon to exhaustion and I hate it. Hunting with dogs should be unlawful. An animal hunted with a rifle, is totally free up until the instant he or she gets shot. That life and death is better than what factory farm animals endure. Why not only eat animals that have been respected during their lives. as many locally raised and wild hunted animals are.