What is Wanton Waste?

In general, the term “wanton waste” describes behavior that intentionally wastes something negligently or inappropriately. With respect to hunting/trapping/fishing, if refers to killing, or attempting to kill, a wild animal and failing to remove that animal from the land and utilize it for a useful purpose , such as consumption of the meat or use of the fur.

Because our state’s wildlife is considered a public resource, behavior that results in wanton or needless killing of wildlife should be opposed by all Vermonters. In a 2017 poll conducted by University of Vermont's Center for Rural Studies, 70.5% of Vermonters polled oppose wanton waste.

Wasteful killing happens year-round in Vermont. The evidence is in the piles of dead crows or coyotes killed for recreation or target practice and left to rot where they died.

Wanton waste clearly violates the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation’s prohibition against the casual killing of wildlife for reasons other than food and fur, self-defense and property protection.

This wanton waste is compounded by an open, year-round season on coyotes and no bag limits for coyotes, bobcats, fisher, otter, mink, weasel, red fox, gray fox, muskrat, beaver and other furbearers. As a result, there is no disincentive in law or regulation to discourage the potential killing and discarding of these species.

Wanton waste clearly violates the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation’s prohibition against the casual killing of wildlife for reasons other than food and fur, self-defense and property protection.

The failure to remove killed wildlife from the land also creates problems for other wild animals by allowing bodies that are often riddled with lead bullet fragments to be consumed by raptors and other wildlife, exposing them to the deadly effects of lead poisoning.

In 2009, a survey of Vermont game wardens revealed that "hunters and anglers are not consistent in their efforts to retrieve fish and wildlife.” The Department estimated that as many as 60 to 100 wanton waste events occurred each year — many of which are very apparent to the public. In response, the Department supported the enactment of a rule against wanton waste, but it was blocked by the Fish and Wildlife Board. Still, the Department expressed support in their most recent 2017-20 Strategic Plan for programs to ensure “ethical harvest techniques are employed to ensure animal welfare and preclude the wanton waste of fish and wildlife resources.”

H.357 would not prohibit or curtail lawful hunting/trapping/fishing in Vermont or prevent landowners from protecting their property against wild animals causing damage. Instead, it prohibits unethical, wasteful practices that undermine efforts to promote appropriate hunting behavior.

Specifically, H.357 would prohibit a person from killing or crippling wildlife life and;

  1. Failing to make a reasonable effort to retrieve an animal and process it for consumption or utilization of its fur;

  2. Dumping or abandoning a wildlife carcass on or near a public highway, on public property (including wildlife management areas or state parks), or on private property without the permission of the owner; or

  3. Detaching or removing only the head, hide, claws, teeth, antlers, horns, internal organs, or feathers or any or all of such parts with the intent to abandon the carcass or body.

How You Can Help

Email your legislators found here and also email the Fish & Wildlife Committee by cutting/pasting their email addresses below and ask them to support bill H.357. In the subject line write: Please support bill H.357, a ban on wanton waste. You can choose some of the talking points below if you'd like  - the most important thing is that legislators hear from you! 












Talking Points:
  • Wanton Waste is unethical and shows disrespect towards wildlife.

  • Vermonters need to uphold its image as a state that hunts responsibly and ethically and does not tolerate wasteful killing.

  • Killing animals with no intent to use them in any way sets a poor example for youth that wildlife has no value.

  • Carcasses that are left to rot in the woods endanger protected species, including eagles and Canada lynx who scavenge on the carrion that may be riddled with lead ammunition fragments.

  • In a world that's faced with the real effects of climate change, proper stewardship of wildlife should be paramount. 

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