June 26, 2013

Vermont Sportsmen’s Act of 2013 Signed into Law

On Friday, June 14, Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus member Governor Peter Shumlin signed into law the Sportsmen’s Act of 2013 – sponsored by Vermont Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Member Representative David Deen – at a ceremonial signing at the Barre Fish and Game Club.

“This law represents the important working relationship between the Fish & Wildlife Department, the administration, legislators, and key fish and wildlife partners,” Governor Shumlin stated. “It will protect our fish and wildlife resources, provide additional recreational opportunities, and support improved administration for the department and the Fish and Wildlife Board.”  

“Key components of this year’s bill have been a priority of the Vermont Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus for the past few years and are now incorporated into HB 101,” said Representative Patrick Brennan, Co-Chair of the Vermont Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus. “We as members of the Vermont Sportsmen’s Caucus are very proud of these accomplishments and will continue to work hand in hand with the Department of Fish and Wildlife in the future.”
Among a suite of necessary administrative adjustments for the department that allow the agency greater flexibility in managing Vermont’s fish and wildlife and administering various hunting and angling licenses, the Sportsmen’s Act of 2013 also includes provisions to:

• Prohibit the importation and possession of feral hogs in Vermont. Many state fish and wildlife agencies are fully engaged in attempts to reduce or eradicate wild hog populations, which can carry various diseases and are extremely destructive to wildlife habitat.

• Allow for the possession of handguns during archery season and while training hunting dogs. Creates more consistency with rights currently afforded to hikers, wildlife watchers and others.

• Grant authority to the Fish and Wildlife Board to regulate the use of crossbows during hunting seasons. Under current statute, there is ambiguity as to whether the Board has authority to regulate the use of crossbows.

• Allow landowners the opportunity to legally post their property so that hunting, fishing and trapping would be allowed only by permission. Previously, landowners wanting to control access for these activities were forced to post against trespass by anyone, which led to an increase in the amount of inaccessible land in Vermont.

According to CSF’s report, “America’s Sporting Heritage: Fueling the American Economy,” 254,000 sportsmen and women spent 12.3 million days hunting and fishing in Vermont in 2011. Spending by sportsmen and women in Vermont supported 6,814 jobs and generated $50 million in state and local taxes – that’s enough to support the average salaries of 1,129 police and sheriff’s patrol officers. As a percent of the population, Vermont has the second highest participation rate in the nation (62%) in wildlife associated recreation; only Alaska ranks higher.

For more information on the Vermont Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus or the Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus contact Brent Miller at Brent@sportsmenslink.org.

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?

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