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senators who are receptive to the argument that traditional hunting and trapping is cruel, unnecessary, and reflects an outdated “dominion” philosophy that ignores animals’ rights.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.”