Contact: Joe Mullin, Assistant Manager, Northeastern States
Why it Matters: Without question, fish and wildlife management authority should and must remain within the respective state agency’s purview. They are unequivocally the best entities equipped to address fish and wildlife management issues within their respective borders. Recent efforts in the northeast region, such as S. 281, have been made to undermine this authority, posing a serious threat to the future of state-based scientific fish and wildlife management, as well as hunting, fishing, and trapping.
On February 25, the Vermont Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Energy convened for what was set to be a vote on S. 281 – a bill that would prohibit sportsmen and women from pursuing coyotes “with the aid of dogs, either for the training of dogs or for the taking of coyote;” however, the introduction of last-minute, amended versions of the bill, caused further discussion. The new language would compel the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department (Department) to report back to the Committee on draft legislation that would require dogs to be “in the control of the person” while pursuing coyotes while excluding the “use of radio collars, telemetry collars, GPS collars, or similar collars that locate or track dogs as a method of complying with the control requirements.”
The Vermont Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs stood for the Green Mountain State’s hunting community and addressed significant concerns with S. 281, and the ramifications it would have on the state’s sporting community. Despite hosting a public hearing on the previous version of the bill the day prior, the Committee reviewed the new text and set a path forward for voting on March 8.
State fish and wildlife agencies have long been recognized as the primary and most well-equipped managers of public trust fish and wildlife resources in the United States. By legislatively dictating a wildlife management decision, S. 281 flies directly in the face of what makes the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department so effective. The Department is in the best position to make sound, science-based management decisions and is the driving force behind Vermont’s on-the-ground efforts that have resulted in burgeoning wildlife populations. It is equipped with a force of highly-educated and widely-experienced staff, which includes a legion of biologists, policy experts, and support and enforcement personnel – all of whom have instrumental roles in determining appropriate hunting methods.
CSF will continue to oppose restrictive, anti-sportsmen’s policies, such as S. 281, wherever they may arise. Additional updates will be provided as they are made available.
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?