Readers got fired up about last week's news story "Hunting Foes Want to Snare Seats on Vermont's Fish & Wildlife Board," about whether nonhunters should be represented on the group of sportsmen that currently decides how Vermont manages its game. Those willing to use their names were mostly so-called "nonconsumptives." Here's a taste.
I am a veterinarian who has treated injuries and removed limbs from pet dogs and cats caught in leghold traps. I could not save the cat from Hinesburg who must have been in the trap for days, considering the dehydration she suffered. I have four issues with leghold traps: 1. They are exceedingly inhumane and cause a tremendous amount of pain to the animal. 2. For every target animal trapped, there are two nontarget species caught 3. The trapped animal is not killed humanely. 4. Trappers do not check their traps often enough.
We need members on the board who, based on their training and knowledge, can present differing opinions on trapping. This will better serve the public and the animals.
Peggy W. Larson
Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department's mission is "to protect and conserve our fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the people of Vermont." That means all people, not just consumptive groups such as trappers or hunters.
Shouldn't we be asking Fish & Wildlife Board chair Kevin Lawrence and the rest of the board members: How does a group of trappers, taxidermists and hunters not hold bias and discriminate voting based on their own interests and hobbies?
Lawrence said: "If someone is totally against something, how can they work to support it?" Conversely, how is someone who is invested both personally and financially in a particular consumptive activity such as trapping able to adequately, equitably and ethically make a decision that represents all people and supports the tenets of "protect and conserve" wildlife, fish, plants and their habitats?
As for experience, there are many environmental biologists, veterinarians, veterinary technicians and wildlife rehabilitators who could be Vermont Fish & Wildlife Board members.
It is time that nonconsumptive Vermonters have an equitable and representative seat at the table.
I would like to thank all of the trapping opponents for clarifying one point: The reason that we need sporting conservationists on the board is that they understand the issues. If you read the comments opposed to the makeup of the board, you will note that nowhere did they discuss actual wildlife management issues. They engage in a great deal of hyperbole and conjecture but never mention the issues generated by excessive populations of any animal: Habitat degradation, increased disease transmission, negative population impacts on other species and starvation due to excessive competition are all real issues which have been observed by scientists to occur in the absence of active management such as hunting and trapping.
One opponent states that they will no longer support the nongame wildlife fund. So you will penalize nongame species because you are mad that their predators are managed? Statements like those clarify that the concern is for the agenda, not the health and welfare of our wild populations.
Covey is conservation director for the Vermont Trappers Association.
I attended the September 21 Fish & Wildlife Board meeting and was astounded to witness the members attempt to vote down the recommendation of their own wildlife biologist and ignore folks requesting that they deny the trapping petition under consideration. Vermont's wildlife does not belong exclusively to consumptive users, but because I do not hunt or trap, I am not allowed to have a voice in how public lands are managed. The discussion surrounding the issue of trapping should be about ethical and responsible conservation of public resources. Trapping is inherently indiscriminate, a fact that should negate its effectiveness as a management tool.
We exist in the 21st century, not the 18th. Science is rapidly providing a wealth of information on wildlife biology and behavior. Unlike our ancestors, we confront the daunting and challenging effects of climate change. The protection and support of plant and animal species and biodiversity must be a priority for any conservation agency in today's world. The Fish & Wildlife Department's current promotion of wanton, indiscriminate and reckless killing of wildlife by trappers is immoral, irresponsible and ecologically dangerous.
It's revealing that Fish & Wildlife Board chair Kevin Lawrence reduces attitudes toward trapping and hunting to "for" or "against." That defensiveness captures the board's inability to interact with the wider public. Some oppose all hunting and trapping. But there are Vermonters who oppose trapping, not hunting. Or they oppose the all-year, anything-goes season on coyotes, but not regulated deer season. (Why can't coyote season be regulated?) Others are fine with hunting to obtain food.
The motives behind hunting and trapping are varied, too: food on the table, getting out in nature or making a profit. A few have darker motives (see Facebook). Many, like Patrick Berry relishing his woodcock canapés, are driven by feel-good reasons.
To be clear — hunting and trapping are about human needs. Current knowledge of animals goes well beyond their game characteristics.
The article references the need for hunting and trapping experience in board members. Actually, the experience that's most vital now for wildlife management is science-based and grounded in data expertise. That experience doesn't land on the board, because such people are shut out unless they are gung-ho trappers or hunters. That expertise exists in the department and should be expanded, and board members recruited who actually embrace its value. If the board can't open up to a changing society, it deserves to become the department's dead end.
So we should select board members who are, for the most part, 100 percent against the activity that the board votes on? This doesn't make sense to me.
["Shumlin's Unlikely Legacy: A Judiciary of His Appointees," October 12] states that Beth Robinson argued before the Vermont Supreme Court "successfully for the legalization of civil unions." Robinson argued not for civil unions, but for full access to marriage. The civil union law was created by the General Assembly as an effort to create a legal status parallel to civil marriage, around two years after she presented her arguments to the court.
The same article states that a legislative board reviews and "almost always reappoints" Vermont judges. Strictly speaking, the joint legislative committee on judicial retention does not reappoint the judges; rather, it makes recommendations to the General Assembly, which meets in joint session and votes by secret ballot whether to retain each judge whose term of office is expiring. A judge was last "un-retained" in the 1993-94 biennium. A bit more often, a judge who is at risk of not being retained will retire in lieu of going through the retention process.
Little is a lawyer and former legislator who served on the joint legislative committee on judicial retention. He is also general counsel for Seven Days.
Kevin J. Kelley's article ["Moran on Main? Officials Seek Solutions for Memorial Auditorium," September 21] reminds us that in the flurry to build, build, build, we can't forget about our old buildings and their needs. I'm sure developers would love to build something massive on the Welcome Block, but what makes Burlington interesting is not ugly new buildings, but our historic human-scale buildings.
I agree with Alan Abair that rehabbing Memorial Auditorium is "absolutely worth it." It's a crime that city officials have for decades deferred maintenance on Memorial, and as far as this administration goes, I can't help but wonder if letting it decay is part of a bigger plan. I would rather see TIF money go to Memorial along with a reimagined public use than to Burlington Town Center developer Don Sinex's streets.
Our historic buildings are what make Burlington truly welcoming, and we need to keep an eye on how the push to develop is threatening some real treasures: Bove's art-deco façade, the Victorian houses on Bank Street that Sinex mentioned removing and repositioning, and Memorial Auditorium. Style is subjective, of course, and not everyone likes Memorial. Regardless, this building has so much history, and they don't build 'em like this anymore.
Nothing Xenophobic About It
[Re "Rutland Bound: Volunteers Ready for Syrian Refugees," October 5]: The authors characterize questions about sharia law, community safety and imported diseases as "ignorant, xenophobic comments." In fact, these questions and others like them are legitimate and are the same we would ask about new neighbors, new students in our children's school, new coworkers and the like. If the authors want to characterize such questions as ignorant and xenophobic, they should do so in an editorial or letter to the editor — not in a news story. I would also suggest that the reason the U.S. vets incoming refugees is to answer questions exactly like these. And lest I be thought of as anti-refugee, I have worked in a refugee resettlement agency for the past eight years.