Contact: Brent Miller, Senior Director, Northeastern States and States Program Administrator
Why it Matters: Vermont’s sportsmen and women – who are undoubtedly the most important voices that must be heard on these issues – can help kill this bad legislation by weighing in through written testimony. It’s critical that residents of the Green Mountain State provide their opposition to H. 167, H.172, H. 316 and H. 411, as these bills pose to have overreaching and adverse impacts on Vermont’s sporting traditions which are celebrated components of the state’s cultural fabric and enshrined and protected in the State Constitution. The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) submitted a formal letter of opposition to these bills and will continue to oppose them throughout the process.
Vermont’s sportsmen and women must stand together to fight H. 167, H. 172, H. 316, and H. 411 – anti-sportsmen bills that reflect a complete disregard for the crucial roles that sportsmen and women play as our nation’s most stalwart conservationists. Equally as concerning is the fact that, in some form or fashion, all of these bills usurp the decision-making authority of the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department (F&W) – the recognized experts of wildlife and their habitats in the state, whose good work has resulted in today’s burgeoning wildlife populations.
H. 167 would create an Environmental Stewardship Board, which would allow those with no familiarity or working knowledge of fish and wildlife management principles to block the Fish and Wildlife Board from implementing rules and regulations impacting hunting, fishing, and trapping.
H. 172 would institute a total ban on recreational trapping and the use of bear hounds. The many instruments used by trappers have all been rigorously evaluated for their efficiency, selectivity, practicality, safety, and animal welfare. Both trapping and hound hunting can also uniquely address a wide breadth of wildlife management challenges in Vermont. Similarly, the use of hounds in bear hunting provides an opportunity for hunters to carefully evaluate their quarry which inserts a level of selectivity not commonly present in many hunting scenarios. Both practices are highly regulated activities, and their respective communities have supported both the vigorous enforcement of the relevant laws and the implementation of severe penalties for any illegalities. The loss of trapping will take a financial toll on homeowners, farmers, and gardeners, as trapping keeps furbearer populations at healthy levels that reduce human conflicts, disease transmission, and habitat degradation. Summarily, H. 172 reflects a sheer ignorance for the benefits that trapping and hound hunting provide and runs counter to F&W’s management strategies.
H. 316 is a similar attack on the hound hunting community as it would require bear hunters to constantly maintain their hounds in both visual and vocal command distance – something that is nearly impossible – or face heavy fines and the loss of hunting privileges. It’s entirely impracticable for hound hunters to pursue game while complying with this bill, thus proving its intent to serve as a de-facto ban on bear hunting with hounds in Vermont.
H. 411 is a wanton waste bill that creates a high-level of definitional uncertainty as to what qualifies as a hunter “recklessly” failing to retrieve and dispose of the animal. For those of you who have searched far-and-wide when recovering wounded game, only to come up empty-handed, this bill would create a shroud of ambiguity as to whether the unfruitful attempt was “reckless.” Writing legislation with vague terminology shows a sheer disrespect for those who will be subjugated to it, and for that reason must be rejected.
CSF is calling all resident sportsmen and women in Vermont to make their voices heard by contacting the Speaker of the House and the House Natural Resource, Fish, and Wildlife Committee Members urging them to oppose these four bills.
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?