Legislation 

2022 Legislative Session

S.201, Ban on Leghold Traps


S.281, Ban on Coyote Hounding


S.129, Make VT Fish & Wildlife Board Advisory Only

H.172, An act relating to trapping and hunting This is the bill that sought to ban recreational trapping and bear hounding, which was obviously a huge lift. We were advised by the bill sponsor, Rep. Jim McCullough, that there won't be enough time this year to continue testimony and move this bill. It'll be interesting if any new bills are introduced this year addressing components of McCullough's bill. All of your hard work advocating for this bill last year was not lost. Legislators know that this is an issue that is important to Vermonters and we aren't going away! 


H.411, An act relating to the retrieval and disposal of wild animals We are excited that this bill that seeks to ban wanton waste of wildlife will be taken up soon and put out for a vote! If this legislation passes it'll be one of the strongest in the country! Learn more about the bill here. 

H.316, An act relating to control over hunting dogs While we prefer to see bear hounding banned altogether, H.316 seeks to better define what control of dogs means and would require bear hound hunters to be within visual and verbal command of their hounds. Currently, hounders are often miles away in their trucks monitoring the hounds' activity with a handheld GPS device. We are not sure if this bill will be taken up. 

S.129,  An act relating to the management of fish and wildlife  Our members know that we have long had concerns with the insular and undemocratic way in which the Fish & Wildlife Board (FWB) operates—this bill seeks to fix that! The bill would require broader representation on the FWB, as well as make it an advisory body only. If you haven't listened to our podcast yet on this topic, you can tune in here. Stay tuned for future alerts on this vital piece of legislation as we suspect there will be a hearing.

• S.151, An act relating to the posting of land with paint markings. This legislation sponsored by Senator Pollina eases the burden of landowners posting their land. The legislation mirrors Maine's purple paint law and would only require landowners to "post" their land once and it's done! No more signs being torn down and annual posting requirements that are oftentimes impossible for many landowners to adhere to. If passed, Vermont would join 15 other states that have this law. 

• (No number yet) Legislation sponsored by Rep Satcowicz prohibits the poisoning of wildlife and also better defines when landowners can kill wildlife on their property. The way the law currently reads under title 10 V.S.A. §4828, allows for an open season on foxes, bobcats, otters and other furbearers. No bill number yet, but stay tuned! Learn more here.

If you would like more information on any of these bills, please email us at info@protectourwildlifevt.org

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Above: Vermont Statehouse, Montpelier, April 8, 2015 

 
POW Correspondence/Testimony on Legislation

December 09, 2018

Protect Our Wildlife Urges Governor to Appoint Non-Hunters/Trappers to the Fish & Wildlife Board

April 20, 2018

POW Testimony on bill H.636 4.20.2018...

February 09, 2017

POW Letter to the Interagency Committee on Administrative Rules

Re: Concerns we have with the application entitled Furbearer Species Rule.

September 01, 2016

POW Letter Regarding Trapping Petition

June 02, 2016

Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department

Bobcat season extension follow-up

May 18, 2016

Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department

Bobcat season extension

February 09, 2016

Fish and Wildlife Committee

Please reload

 
Taped Fish and Wildlife Department Board Meetings

September 21, 2016 and October 19, 2016

December 21, 2016

February 22, 2017

February 21, 2018 Fox Petition Presented

POW commentary on Otter & Bobcat Trapping Extension Proposal

 
Talking Points for Discussions with Legislators

Trapping

Coyotes

Nuisance Wildlife Trapping

Hounding

Bear Hounding

 

Trapping

  • Traps are inherently indiscriminate and are responsible for injuring and/or killing protected and endangered species each year in Vermont, as well as dogs and cats. 

  • Traps inflict prolonged suffering including broken bones and teeth, torn tendons and dislocated joints, caused by the animals trying to desperately free themselves from the trap. Animals may also "wring off" their limbs, leaving nothing but a foot left in the trap.

  • Animals are subjected to harsh elements, fear, pain, and predation by other animals while immobilized in the trap. 

  • There are no standards that dictate how trapped animals must be killed. They are  bludgeoned, stomped on (to crush the animal's heart and lungs), drowned, strangled and killed by other inhumane methods. If the animal is "lucky", s/he is shot.

  • Traps may be set on public land, including National Wildlife Refuges, with no required signage or set backs from trails or entry points.

  • Trappers are likely losing money from trapping since the fur market has been on a steady decline.

  • Trappers admit that they'll still trap, despite the poor fur market, for recreation and sport. 

  • There are humane and sustainable ways to handle wildlife conflicts without having to trap animals.

  • Because steel-jaw leghold traps are inherently cruel, they have been banned in 88 countries. Their use is banned or restricted in several U.S. states, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Washington. The European Union has banned the use of steel-jaw traps in Europe and banned the importation of pelts from countries that use these cruel devices to trap and kill fur-bearing animals.

  • 75% of Vermont residents recently polled by University of Vermont's Center for Rural Studies want to ban trapping. Read more here.


Coyotes

  • Coyotes are the most abused animals in Vermont as evidenced by photos and videos shared by Vermont hound hunters. See report here compiled by the Vermont Coyote Coexistence Coalition: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1ypz507WgJFdVmamQxw1lRnqlUxF8tLax

  • They may be "hunted" all year long, day and night, which means pups are left behind to starve.

  • Hunters admit to taking non-lethal shots to purposely injure the coyote and allow their hounds to descend on the injured animal – it is akin to animal fighting.

  • This kind of killing represents wanton waste since the coyote carcasses are dumped.

  • Vermont's image is being tarnished as tourists view piles of bloodied dead coyotes on truck beds.

  • Packs of dogs run down a single coyote to the point of exhaustion. The coyote is cornered, often times injured, where the dogs then attack the coyote (that is their reward). This is a form of legalized dog-fighting. View VT coyote here.

  • An open season on coyotes does nothing to manage populations, rather it actually causes increased breeding and upsets the pack hierarchy, which may lead to the very problems coyote killers are trying to solve. Learn more about compensatory response here

  • There is a culture of hatred and loathing towards coyotes in Vermont. No other animal is persecuted with such violence - the photos and comments seen on social media by Vermont coyote hunters depict gratuitous violence and torture.

  • There is an open killing season in Vermont on coyotes - they are killed during times of the year when mothers are rearing and nursing pups, leaving pups to starve to death.

  • Hunters claim that any hunting season is coyote season. Coyotes who are minding their business in the spring, tending to their pups, are killed by hunters for no justifiable reason. 

  • Coyote hunters kill coyotes with no intent of using the animal ("resource") in any way, which is wasteful killing. Their bodies are often left to rot where they were killed. This is known as wanton waste and is condemned by wildlife biologists and conservationists, yet VT Fish & Wildlife still supports an open season.

  • 70.5% of Vermont residents recently polled by UVM's Center for Rural Studies want to ban the wasteful killing of wildlife. Read more here.

  • When coyote packs are stable, coyotes hunt wild prey and teach their young to hunt wild prey. They settle into their territory and learn the patterns and habits of their wild prey, and their diet consists largely of rodents. 

  • Over the last 10 years, there's only been 69 incidents reported of coyotes killing livestock in Vermont. Often times coyotes are blamed when the culprit is actually domestic dogs or other predators.

 

"Nuisance" wildlife trapping

  • Trapping out of season in defense of property is completely unregulated. Nuisance Wildlife Control Operators (NWCOs) are for-profit businesses that trap and kill animals and are not even required to be permitted by the state or be trained in non-lethal, humane solutions. Thanks to legislation we helped pass in 2018, they now have to possess a trapping license. We urge the public to use extreme caution when hiring NWCOs since they do not always disclose their protocols to their customers. For example, much to the public's surprise, NWCOs often drown trapped animals offsite. 

  • The definition of what constitutes a "nuisance" animal is dangerously vague. The animal does not even have to be caught in the act of causing damage to property. The animal may be trapped and killed if the animal is simply suspected to cause damage in the future!

  • Like coyote hunting, "nuisance" animals can be killed at any time of the year which results in animals being killed when they are tending to their young.

  • There are no laws protecting wild animals causing damage. The "damage" can be as benign as a raccoon raiding your garden. 

  • There are no standards by which a "nuisance" animal must be killed--they are drowned, bludgeoned and subjected to a host of other gruesome methods.

  • Learn more here.

Hounding

  • It is a cruel, unfair, and violent way to "hunt."

  • Packs of radio collared hounds are let loose to pursue coyotes, bears, bobcats and other wild animals. The hounds' owners are often miles away in their trucks. They have no control over their marauding animals.

  • Hounds are allowed to maul the cornered, injured wild animal as a reward. The hounds themselves sustain injuries.

  • The hounds violate landowner rights and cause conflicts with landowners.

  • Hounds present a danger to people and their pets as evidenced in October 2019 when bear hounds attacked a couple and their dog who were hiking VT public land.

  • The hound training season starts on June 1st for most species and runs right through September. This causes mother animals to be separated from their young and places young animals in danger of being killed. 

 

Bear hounding

  • Hounding orphans cubs; those under a year old will likely die from slow starvation and predation. Hunters frequently fail to check for the presence of dependent young in a nearby tree, which could alert them that they are pursuing a mother bear. Biologists have also found that hunters misidentify the gender of approximately one-third of treed bears. And in some pursuits, hounds confront bears while they are on the ground; in the melee, hunters may not take the time to try to determine the bear’s gender before shooting.

  • Especially during hot weather, pursuit stresses both hounds and bears. Bears who have been chased for a prolonged period can experience severe physical stress due to their thick fur and fat layer, which they build to survive during hibernation. Overheated bears can die and pregnant bears can lose embryos.

  • Altercations with hounds can result in injuries or death to bears, particularly cubs. In turn, hounds mauled by bears can suffer broken bones, punctured lungs or other serious injuries. Hounds may chase bears into roadways, where oncoming vehicles could strike either animal. Hounds are frequently dumped at municipal animal shelters or left in the woods if they do not perform adequately.

  • Because hounds track bears across large spaces, they invariably pursue and stress non-target animals including deer, moose, small mammals and birds.