We need everybodyís engagement again! Please make sure to email, and understand that this is as crucial as our last alert. Share it widely and help us send the message to the Senate committee, The President Pro Tempore, and your Senators that there is no value in this type of legislation.
There has been a bill sitting in the Senate that is being taken up. It seems our community will get no respite from these legislative attacks despite still not having proper access to our legislators, and it is frankly infuriating. They started discussion on the bill today with testimony from Rob Mullen of Richmond representing the the Vermont Wildlife Coalition, and Vincent Illuzi former state senator, current Essex County States Attorney, Vermont State Employees Association lobbyist, and a Derby resident. Both witnesses voiced strong support for this most recent attack on wildlife management in Vermont. They will be taking more input tomorrow, but no hunting advocates have been asked to weigh in.. This bill, S.129, is yet another sly attempt to legislate anti-hunters onto the Fish and Wildlife Board. It removes the current system in favor of a system that allows legislators to appoint a full 2/3 of a new board that would be established. As we are all too unfortunately aware, very few of our legislators hunt or trap, or for that matter understand hunting and trapping.
The current system includes representation from each of our fourteen counties. The new proposal could draw all of it's representation from Burlington if they so chose.
The Governor currently appoints board members, and as this is a statewide office, it is inherently more inclusive. Over 20% of Vermonters hold a sporting license, and that is a significant voting block. Legislators from urban districts have no reason to care about the interests of rural Vermonters as they can throw the sporting community under the bus with no concern about being voted out. Indeed, that is the very problem we are faced with currently. The Senate Natural Resources Committee committee seems quite fond of the concept, and they need to hear from you now. Please send your emails to the following senators, and if your own senators are not on the list, you may look them up here and include them. Find a Legislator
The legislature assured us as the Covid Pandemic descended upon Vermonters that they would only be taking up legislation to address the budget and the crisis in this remote format. Instead of holding to that promise, the last two weeks have brought about a multi-pronged attack on the sporting community and wildlife management of our state, with additional disruption of Vermonter's lives appearing to now be a priority. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!
The Fish and Wildlife Board has a very narrow purview. The Board does not allow us to hunt, the legislature and Vermont Constitution do that. All the board does is regulate seasons and means of take. In order to serve that function well, they have to be familiar with hunting, trapping, and fishing. Bills such at this that intend to displace hunters on the Fish and Wildlife Board only serve one function, that of forwarding an anti-hunting agenda.
The opponents of hunting and trapping tell you they are concerned the board is not informed by science. Iím not going to mince words. That is an explicit lie. The board is informed by the biologists directly working with each species at the Vermont Fish and wildlife Department. I can say with an almost absolute degree of certainty, that nobody is more well-equipped to inform these boards then the wildlife professionals who have dedicated themselves to stewarding the Fish and wildlife of our state.
Finally, the anti-hunting groups commonly state that there is not enough access to the Fish and Wildlife Board and that they donít have a voice there. Again, this is a fallacy. Actions taken at the Board level are some of the most transparent within government. The Fish and Wildlife Board provides an opportunity for public input and allows anybody two minutes at the beginning of their meetings to speak. They do not limit the number of speakers. This is just at their monthly business meetings.
Once an issue is taken up for a regulation change, that access grows exponentially. The board generally sets multiple public hearings, and takes both written and verbal public comment. They hear from the department leadership and biologists, and their decision, ultimately, is well informed. What this board should be, and ultimately has a track record of doing, is making decisions based on the science they are offered. We cannot escape the irony of groups who first state a desire for scientifically formed decisions, and subsequently criticize the board for not placing the personal values of those opposed to hunting and trapping above the science.
Ultimately, we have a very functional, very transparent process that is scientifically founded and exercised by those with an understanding of how hunting occurs. This allows them to make not only ecologically sound, but practically applicable regulations. A process and format that ultimately stewards our wildlife populations in concert with the varied benefits that Vermonters derive from the wildlife we enjoy upon the landscape.
I want to stress that our supporters, when you engage, ultimately give us our voice. Thank you to all who answer the call, it is more crucial these days than ever.
My Best Regards,
Vermont Traditions Coalition