Our wildlife board won’t act in wildlife’s interests

Vermont’s Fish & Wildlife Board is entirely made up of hunters, trappers, and anglers — the regulated regulating themselves. What could possibly go wrong?

WESTMINSTER — Who's in on bludgeoning animals? Do you support the inhumane treatment of wildlife? Gov. Phil Scott wants you to apply to the Fish & Wildlife Board!

During a recent Fish & Wildlife Board meeting where the board was required by the Legislature to come up with regulations on how to humanely trap and kill animals, one of Gov. Scott's board-appointed members representing Chittenden County recommended "bludgeoning" trapped animals.

Some of you might recall those anti-fur commercials from the 1980s showing baby seals being clubbed to death. Can you believe that that is happening right now in Vermont to trapped foxes, raccoons, bobcats, and other wildlife?

Not bad enough?

That same board appointee at the same meeting suggested, "Remove the word 'humane'" from the proposed trapping recommendations.

Not enough?

OK, one more. This same appointee ultimately said, "I'll make a motion to amend 4.16 to dispatch trapped animals to include [...] manually applied blunt force."

What do the good people of Chittenden County think of their board representative talking about our cherished wildlife in such a callous, coldhearted way?

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This volunteer Fish & Wildlife Board is entirely made up of hunters, trappers, and anglers who don't represent most Vermonters who care deeply about animal welfare. It is the regulated regulating themselves. What could possibly go wrong?

For people who care about the humane treatment of animals, beware when listening to the board's discussions during the meetings. It can be hard to hear them talk about living, feeling animals in such an uncaring manner.

It's also hard witnessing their total disregard - I'd even say disdain - for those who care about humane treatment of animals. It's no wonder Vermonters are taking their concerns to the Legislature. This board cannot be trusted to act in the best interest of wildlife.

It's solely due to wildlife advocates bringing these issues to the Legislature that Fish & Wildlife is finally being tasked with addressing the inherent cruelties of trapping.

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But the problems don't end with the Fish & Wildlife Board. Gov. Scott also appointed a commissioner of the Department of Fish and Wildlife who has no - repeat, no - credentials in wildlife sciences or biology.

Clearly, the governor believes that Vermont Fish and Wildlife is so unimportant that the personnel, and the mission, do not deserve a wildlife professional calling the shots.

Gov. Scott has polished his image as a guy you want to have a beer with. However, his choice of Fish and Wildlife board members and commissioner reveal a person who is out of touch with most Vermonters' view of wildlife.

When his hand-picked representatives advocate for bludgeoning and the inhumane treatment of wild animals, it shows a dark and ugly trait or monstrous blind spot that should worry all of us.

Annie Smith has described herself in legislative testimony as an animal activist. "We do this all in our free time and push other things aside because it is so important to us, others, and the planet as a whole," she said to the House Committee on Natural Resources, Fish, and Wildlife.

This Voices Viewpoint was submitted to The Commons.

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