Anti-trapping, hunting groups seek last minute changes in proposed regs

By Michael Bielawski

This Thursday a third public hearing on new rules for trapping and coyote hunting will take place, at least 34 speakers will give their take. A proponent of trapping says his opponents want “death by a thousand cuts” for the practice.

The Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules (LCAR), which is tasked with writing up the new rules due to legislation signed into law in 2022, will host. The current proposals for trapping can be read here.

Trapping in particular elicits strong sentiments from both proponents and opposition. Chris Bradley, president of the Vermont Federation of Sportsman Club, is on the list and he spoke with VDC by phone on Monday morning. He suggested the opponents of trapping are chipping away from the practice.

“As my opposition would say, their goal is death by a thousand cuts, and every time they can make a cut or establish a rule that didn’t exist previously they feel that they are winning,” Bradley said.

Bradley said that he remains confident that LCAR will focus the rules to allow for trapping to continue, which is the legislative intent of Act 159 passed by lawmakers last year.

“The fact of the matter is trapping continues and what started as a ban is the legislature’s acknowledgement that trapping is an integral part of population management, there are benefits and it’s necessary,” Bradley said.

More than a dozen anti-trapping speakers are lined up to speak first on Thursday, Bradley noted. He said that they can make their statements but LCAR is bound by legislative intent to make sure that trapping is allowed to continue.

“So that raised concern from our side,” Bradley said. “We were like wow what’s going on here? Someone made the wrong conclusion that they were invited in, they weren’t. This was in my opinion my opposition’s last gasp at having a forum to attack trapping and to a lesser extent coyote hunting with dogs.”

A concern is that some of the current proposals include rules that could become confusing and/or prohibitive. For example, they will attempt to regulate where traps can be placed in relation to trails.

Bradley noted that just to define what accounts for a “trail” in Vermont’s vast wilderness could prove to be a dubious task. The current proposal is traps must be 50 feet from trails that appear on the Vermont Agency of Transportation highway maps.

The current language notes the challenges of addressing the trail policy.

“There is no existing research to dictate the appropriate distance, and different user groups have different opinions on what constitutes an appropriate setback distance. This makes the issue more complex than simply applying an existing standard or asking the stakeholders to find consensus among themselves,” the proposed rules state.

Another issue the rules may tackle will concern the threat that these traps pose to pets.

“A lot of those rules really came from those opposed to trapping, they wanted to end trapping so they were using any argument they could come up with including trapping of pets,” Bradley said.

He said estimates ranging from 12 to 18 pets have been captured by traps, of which at least three have died. Bradey said it’s important to keep in perspective the millions of hours that traps collectively are set in Vermont.

He said that cars or coyotes each likely kill significantly more pets than traps do. He also said it’s important to consider if the pet was unsupervised at the time and/or if the trap was set improperly.

Massachusetts has banned trapping, but the result may not be what was intended. Instead of trapping going away, it continues in The Bay State only now it’s less regulated than before.

“They banned trapping and there’s now more animals being taken by traps because they [the animals] are doing damage than there ever was under legal trapping,” Bradley said. “And one of the bad things about this is we are trapping nuisance animals off-season instead of reducing the numbers in season, it amounts to wanton waste.”

The author is a reporter for the Vermont Daily Chronicle

Categories: Outdoors, State Government

10 replies »

  1. Thank you Chris Bradley for all you, and your associated clubs, and advocates do for sportsmen and women .

  2. Leghold traps are not sportsmanship. Leghold traps are lying-in-wait. Leghold traps are to hunting what date-rape with a roofie is to romance. There is no contest, no battle of wills and wits, nothing except an unpleasant surprise and an animal writhing in agony: sometimes a pet, sometimes a bird with all its bones crushed. Years ago, in the course of doing research on deer, I made friends with a big-game hunter who was the real thing. He had, for example, shot the largest brown bear ever taken in that province of Canada. More than once, he was nearly killed by his target animals (e.g., an elk who was “busy” during mating season and charged at him.) No, he was not my boyfriend: he had a very nice wife who kept winning on scratch tickets (as much as $20,000 on one play). They had a red-deer farm and butchery and I concluded that they both had some kind of odd supernatural intuition, like the hunting shamans of old.

    The Hunter

    By Ellin Anderson

    He welcomes you so heartily,
    So deeply do his eyes engage
    His guests, you’d think your host could be
    An envoy from another age

    When all the bounty of the herd
    Was sacrament and sacred rite:
    Hunter and rancher, to whose word
    The great king stag submits his might.

    The running of the red roe deer
    Is seen each day in his domain.
    He is their lord — and lord of fear
    In lands where fiercer things are slain:

    The bear who towers against the sky,
    Enraged and keen to be your doom;
    The elk who charged when marked to die
    Rears up inside his living room,

    And while three-score glass eyes looked on,
    We drank our beer and watched TV;
    He called me “Honey” — that was Sean,
    Tamer of beasts, and even me:

    Stark proof he was a Magic Man,
    And when the moon rose in our eyes,
    I was Diana, he was Pan,
    No longer dancing in disguise.

    • To: Ellin Anderson
      Your anecdote regarding someone you met “years ago” has absolutely no bearing on the topic, nor your opening statement nor does the poem you post. With the possible exception that you think the person you met, who you obviously coveted, was a hunter and may have opposed trapping.
      It’s your constitutional right to speak and write, within the limits of the law, and I have and will defend your right, but if you are going to take the time to tout your opinion, maybe next time you could be more succinct and cogent.
      Pam Baker

    • Ellin Anderson, I would challenge you to go ahead and set a foothold set for fox and coyote, then tell me how easily these animals unsuspectingly stepped into these traps….I won’t hold my breath. Coyotes and fox are incredibly intuitive to traps and unless everything is perfectly setup (read “skillfully) you will get nothing, or maybe you’ll find your set sprung, buried up and pooped on. Yeah, so go on I can’t wait to see the photo of your first catch.

    • Trapping isn’t a sport. It’s a means to catch an animal for its worth, mostly fur. FYI in sitting in a small wooden shack in the woods lying in wait for a black bear to come by as it often does in the late afternoon so I can kill it for food with a rifle whose ammunition is a caliber that has been used in warfare. Is that sportsmanship?

  3. The anti-trapping speakers are the same ones that can use a mouse trap at their properties and think it’s OK, as they are just a pest………….. Liberal minds running rampant in Vermont…….. wake up people !!

  4. Last year, it was supporting surgically altering children’s private parts, turning them inside out figuratively and literally, and encouraging assisted suicide. This session, they shall rail against human hunters and protect wildlife bodies at all costs. The irony.

      • Yes, they allow minors to underground sexual reassignment surgery without parental content. From my perspective, doing this to a 10 year old is sexual mutilation. The school and our politicians effirm this activity, as well as the United Nations. I was talking to a gay man and the surgery doesn’t provide sexual parts that work. Anyone who disagrees with this policy is deemed a hater, discriminating against trans people, according to the United Nations.