More Vermonters need to weigh in on wildlife issues — Lark Shields

I recently attended the Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules meeting in Montpelier in regard to allowing extending otter season for trappers.

I really wanted to see how the process works. Protect Our Wildlife has been on the forefront of calling out the Fish and Wildlife Department for allowing trappers to put forth frivolous petitions to extend bobcat and otter season.

After much public outcry and advice against the petition from their own fur biologist the Fish and Wildlife Board did vote against the bobcat season extension however they continued to press forward with extending the otter season. They were rebuked in a 4-3 vote by the Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules to not grant the extension of the otter season which was one component of the rule, however it takes a 5-7 vote to object to the rule or any part of the rule. Therefore, Vermont’s otter season will be extended.

The public needs to understand that the Fish and Wildlife Department is not accountable to anyone. Even if the legislative committee voted to not allow the rule the Fish and Wildlife Department could still allow the petition to extend otter season. Even the Department of Fish and Wildlife can only advise the board. The board has ultimate authority. They cannot be voted out because the governor appoints them.

It is clear to all that have followed these issues that they are all powerful and have been doing the bidding of the special interests of trappers and hunters. Even one of the senators on the rules committee commented that if the board had just said in the beginning that the petition was for trapper convenience then he would have to vote to allow the petition because that was the job of the Fish and Wildlife Board but the fact that they put forth other reasons such as animal welfare it became apparent that he couldn’t vote to allow the extension of the otter season.

There is much more I would like to say but my words are limited and my only hope is that the public will become more involved and make their own decisions. All Vermonters should have a voice about the wildlife and not just a few special interests that are represented on the board that now are reflected by only hunters and trappers.

Lark Shields

3 Responses to "More Vermonters need to weigh in on wildlife issues — Lark Shields"

  1. Ron Cahen   September 4, 2017 at 11:21 am

    I agree with the letter writer that there is no accountability on the part of the Fish and Wildlife Commission. It is up to the citizens of Vermont to get involved and make sure that there is fairness in their decisions.

  2. Bonnie Rowell   September 4, 2017 at 12:34 pm

    The F&W Board, supported by the Fish and Wildlife Department recently decided to extend the otter trapping season for a month to coincide with the conclusion of the beaver trapping season at the end of March. At the recent meeting of the Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules on the extension,Mr. Porter, the commissioner of Fish and Wildlife was asked how he justified this with the Department’s own Otter webpage that states that “the young are born in late March to May” and that, “In Vermont, it is protected from over hunting with the season only lasting about four months, from the end of October through the middle of February. This time of year is chosen to protect against mothers or newborns being harvested.” Leaving aside that the current season goes to the end of February, at the meeting, he replied by turning to Mark Scott, the Department’s Director of Wildlife who claimed that the website hadn’t been updated in a long time and that old information was represented. OLD INFORMATION!!! It seems that the data is changed to fit their agenda… Alternative facts perhaps???

  3. Kerry Edmunds   September 4, 2017 at 8:13 pm

    I totally agree. Nonhunters/nontrappers are the majority, but we are not being represented. Even the ethical hunters are not being represented. The squeaky wheel gets the grease and the guys who just want to kill, kill, kill are the ones getting the grease. Landowners, who pay the taxes, are not being represented at all. We have asked hunters with hounds not to hunt around us for 20 years. Some have respected our wishes, but even as recently as last winter hounds chased a coyote into our yard, 30 feet away from our house. The coyote was injured, terrified and exhausted and tried to hide under our shed, but could not fit and the hounds mauled him 3 times before the hunters gathered them, when my husband told them to get off our land. When we went out, they were standing in our yard with rifles, right out our door. They had walked right between our no hunting signs, about 10 feet away from one. Fish and Wildlife keep telling us they are doing nothing illegal.


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