A petition to expand trapping seasons on bobcats and otters has sparked the attention of Vermonters statewide. What has become apparent is the failure of the Fish & Wildlife Board to acknowledge the views of those who oppose an extension to trapping seasons.

The Board is lacking representation by unbiased people. The chairman of the Board is quoted as saying, “If someone is totally against something, how can they work to support it?” This ironic statement begs the question, i.e., if someone is totally for something, it is unlikely that they will consider incorporating opposing views. We’ve seen the consequences of a Board that’s only comprised of those who pay fees for the license to kill — “Pay to play,” if you will.

Hundreds of Vermonters emailed the Board opposing the proposed measures, and upwards of 75 people showed up at the September Board meeting to make their objections known. During that meeting, I was interested to learn that several hunters did not favor trapping extensions; they see no sport in setting a trap and returning days later to check if an animal is clamped in it. It was clear that those who hunt with firearms do not want to be lumped in with the trappers.

Many have lived in Vermont for years without ever seeing an otter or a bobcat. Even those who spend their summers on Vermont’s waterways kayaking never catch a glimpse of an otter. Countless others who spend time outdoors tracking and watching wildlife have yet to see even a bobcat paw print. There’s a lot of work to be done to protect wildlife. Perhaps it would be a good start to make this Board only an advisory, and not allow them to have the huge responsibility of regulating the wildlife that we all treasure.

Zach DeStefano


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