As the last day for legislation to advance in the first chamber wound down, Vermont sportsmen emerged largely intact and victorious over anti-hunting groups that had launched the most widespread legislative attack on hunting, trapping and wildlife management in state history. As of last week, the Vermont Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee was poised to approve three absolutely terrible bills. Fortunately, an outpouring of opposition from sportsmen prevented this from happening.
Senate Bill 129, which would neuter the Fish and Wildlife Board and remove the voice of sportsmen, has been set aside. While the bill is not dead, it now will require much more study, giving sportsmen a better chance to fight it.
Originally Senate Bill 281 would have banned coyote hunting with hounds. Instead, should the bill pass, the state will impose a moratorium until the Fish and Wildlife Department creates new rules to prevent conflicts between landowners and hunters. Those who want to hunt coyotes would have to purchase a permit. Sportsmen also successfully convinced the committee not to require hunters to secure written permission before hunting coyotes with hounds.
As introduced, Senate Bill 201 would have banned foothold traps. Instead, the committee approved a bill that requires trappers to adhere to national Best Management Practices (BMPs) that were created by the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies with input from trapping groups. Many trappers already utilize the BMPs, and the bill will give other trappers time to obtain traps that are in line with the guidelines.
None of these outcomes would have been possible without a tremendous effort by sportsmen, including the Vermont Traditions Coalition, Vermont Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs, Vermont Trappers Association, and, of course, Sportsmen’s Alliance volunteers. Committee members reported being deluged with contacts by sportsmen, and this undoubtedly played a key role.
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.