Get Involved with POW
Volunteer, Intern, or Be a Community Advocate
Protect Our Wildlife is an all volunteer-run wildlife protection organization. Volunteering is a great way to meet new friends who share similar values and talents, and above all, to help animals. Our volunteers contribute in a variety of ways, including writing and research projects, graphic design, fundraising for local wildlife rehabilitators, and serve as voices for the wildlife they strive to protect. Contact us!
Protect Our Wildlife is proud of our internship program. We work with several local colleges, and we value the relationships we’ve formed with faculty and students. The experience students gain from our various internship opportunities provides them with valuable information and skills they will use in the future.
Some of our internship opportunities are as follows:
Political Science/Legislative Assistant (Spring semester only)
Graphic Design & Digital Media
Our interns research topics that are important to them and write letters for publication in Vermont papers. This helps them not only learn about wildlife protection matters, but hones their skills in writing, research, and how to run a successful campaign. See examples here and here.
Our Spring 2020 University of Vermont intern chose coyotes as his animal of interest. He researched the plight of Vermont's coyotes and wrote about it here.
“I too am not a bit tamed, I too am untranslatable,
I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.”
-Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass
As any environmentalist would, I too, wonder at what point we departed this thinking. This excerpt can be found in Poem 52 of Whitman’s 1855 Leaves of Grass. In his work, Whitman prided himself in being “untranslatable”. Being “untranslatable” articulates harmony between the boundaries separating human and animal life.
With over a century of environmental progress, we should be closer to Whitman's perspective. Despite this progress, Vermont stands idle to a disturbing amount of wildlife abuse. The mismanagement, flagrantly exercised on systemic levels, is perceived as “sustainable" by the very organization that's in charge of "protecting" wildlife. In reality, it’s anything but sustainable. The mismanagement of wildlife, specifically coyotes, is evident when investigating the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department’s methods. Their position seems to be that as long as the coyote population won’t be negatively impacted by the open killing season, then they will remain unmoved by the abusive and disrespectful acts that are inflicted upon coyotes. The constant persecution of coyotes is “sustainable” in the eyes of VTFWD, so therefore there’s no reason to change it. But, of course, there are plenty of reasons to change it.
The VTFWD subscribes to the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation, which evolved in response to wildlife exploitation by hunters and trappers. It is a hunting/hunter-centric model and it possesses some admirable principles. One of them is, “wildlife can only be killed for a legitimate purpose” and another is, “science is the proper tool for discharge of wildlife policy.” The VTFWD seems to cherry pick which principles they’ll follow and which they’ll ignore. The open killing season on coyotes violates both of these principles. Research that supports Vermont’s current coyote “management” is virtually nonexistent, the exception being a small study of the Champlain Valley that was conducted in the 1980’s. Consequently, there is no modern data to evaluate current coyote populations. How effective can management policy be when the VTFWD hasn’t conducted any studies on coyotes in the past 35 years? Science informs us that the current mantra of “kill 'em all” that is spewed by many coyote killers, is not proper wildlife management. According to a 2019 report by Project Coyote, the latest peer-reviewed science indicates indiscriminate coyote killing increases population size. Overhunting disrupts pack structure and discipline, forcing juveniles and non-alpha pairs to ensure pack survival by mating at a young age. This results in larger litters, which leads to more coyotes, hence the counterproductive reasoning of current policy. (Project Coyote, 2019)
Thanks to efforts spearheaded by wildlife protection groups, coyote killing contests are banned in Vermont, but protections for coyotes are mostly absent. Rather than actually using a science-based management policy for coyotes, the VTFWD’s “management” creates a system based on a kill-all-you-can principle. Coyotes are run down and mauled by powerful radio-collared hounds year-round and are killed during the spring and summer months where they’re birthing and nursing their pups, leaving untold numbers of animals orphaned. They are slaughtered and strung up in plain view as some public statement of hatred and intolerance that runs deep. Photos shared on social media by Vermont coyote hunters depict: organs spilling out of the lifeless body, hounds attacking a cornered coyote, lifeless bodies publicly hung for all to see, and other detestable images.
Coyotes have become Vermont’s scapegoat through all of this. You didn't bag a deer this season? Kill a coyote. You hate "tree huggers?" Kill a coyote to upset them. You're angry at Vermont's politics? Kill a coyote. We must be very careful as members of a civilized society to not normalize and accept this abusive behavior.
The irony is that VTFWD claims that the open hunting season helps to reduce the villainization of coyotes and increases the public's acceptance of them. The reality is that having zero protective policies signals to the public that coyotes are worthless and it emboldens people to classify them as vermin and kill them without mercy. Rather than the remedy VTFWD seeks, their policy exacerbates the public villainization of coyotes. The quick-to-kill culture substantiates its harmful practices with the misconception that hunters must eliminate coyotes to save deer populations. Yet, many studies show that the predatory effects of coyotes on deer populations are minimal. In addition to ignoring science, the mentality of coyote hunters dangerously lusts towards an us versus them mentality. Built on hatred, imposed on the oppressed via the oppressor, this mentality works to enshrine hunters while demonizing coyotes. This relationship exacerbates the villainizing culture that VTFWD’s policy claims to defeat.
And within the ruins of decaying and decrepit wildlife "management," we are brought back to Whitman and the original pondering of our animal kinship: But can we still rise up to sound our “barbaric yawp?"
“During my time at Protect Our Wildlife I was responsible for researching hunting and trapping regulations and statistics in Vermont. I came to understand that communication between the public and legislators, such as the Fish and Wildlife Board, was essential to preserve Vermont’s wildlife. Public outreach through education critical, as it is easy for legislators to create laws without notifying the public. Our goal was to keep the public informed about the immoral treatment of wildlife. Overall, this internship has given me practical communication skills and has allowed me to become more aware of the unethical implications certain laws may possess.
This internship has been an outstanding learning experience, and I highly recommend it to students in all fields.”
University Of Vermont
• Community Advocate
You can protect animals from deadly traps by posting “No Trapping” signs on your property. By familiarizing yourself with current trapping regulations, you will recognize illegal or unethical activities.
Organize an informational session in your community to educate people about current trapping practices and how pets, endangered species, and even humans are at risk. Find out creative ways to organize your own campaign here. Let us know of any plans you have, and we'd be happy to support you any way we can!
Become a county captain with Protect Our Wildlife and help mobilize your community to become a safer place for pets, wildlife, and people. We are always seeking new candidates for our county captain role so contact us if you’re interested in learning more.
Be a voice for wildlife by attending Fish & Wildlife Board meetings. Meetings can be found here. Please let us know if you can attend any upcoming meetings so that we can properly coordinate coverage. This is a super important role that just requires a few hours of your time.
We could not make a difference in the lives of animals without our amazing volunteers!
One of our UVM interns performing outreach on campus.