A package of three animal-rights-promoted bills is poised to move forward in Vermont over the objections of sportsmen and leadership of the state Fish and Wildlife Department. All three bills will receive a hearing and likely votes this week before the Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee. The committee has not held meaningful hearings where sportsmen were afforded an opportunity to testify.
Senate Bill 129 reduces the Fish and Wildlife Board to an advisory body and gives majority appointing authority for board membership to the legislature. The Fish and Wildlife Commissioner could appoint four of the 12 board members with the remaining eight positions filled by legislative appointment. Hearings are scheduled for March 8 and 10.
Senate Bill 281 would prohibit the use of dogs to hunt coyotes. The committee has received no biological justification for the ban as coyotes are a prolific non-native species and a leading cause of human-wildlife conflict. The committee has ignored recommendations from sportsmen and the department to provide rules specific to coyote hound hunting. A hearing is scheduled for March 8.
Senate Bill 201 would ban foothold traps. This legislation will cause increases in furbearing animals, and with that, the potential spread of rabies, increases in crop depredation, infrastructure damage, predation of ground-nesting species such as ducks and turkeys, among other wildlife-related conflicts. A hearing has been scheduled for March 9.
“All three of these bills amount to a political takeover of Vermont’s wildlife management by the legislature. Neutering the Fish and Wildlife Board makes it clear that legislators prefer party politics over science and have no desire to hear input from sportsmen – the very citizens who fund the lion’s share of fish and wildlife conservation management,” said Dillon Barto, manager of state services for Sportsmen’s Alliance. “The current management system of scientific wildlife management has resulted in the proliferation of wildlife across Vermont and the country for more than a century.”
Act Now! Sportsmen need to contact committee members immediately and express strong opposition to all three senate bills. Contacts for committee members:
Senator Becca Balint: email@example.com (802) 257-4162 (Senate President Pro Tempore)
Senator Chris Bray: firstname.lastname@example.org (802) 453-3444 (Committee Chairman)
Senator Rich Westman: email@example.com (802) 644-2297
Senator Mark MacDonald: firstname.lastname@example.org (802) 272-1101
Senator Brian Campion: email@example.com (802) 375-4376
Senator Richard McCormack: firstname.lastname@example.org (802) 793-6417
About the Sportsmen’s Alliance: The Sportsmen’s Alliance protects and defends America’s wildlife conservation programs and the pursuits – hunting, fishing and trapping – that generate the money to pay for them. Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation is responsible for public education, legal defense and research. Its mission is accomplished through several distinct programs coordinated to provide the most complete defense capability possible. Stay connected to Sportsmen’s Alliance: Online, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.