Letters to the Editor: Hunting rules reflect ‘wanton waste’

UVM’s Center for Rural Studies included the following question in their 2017 Vermonter Poll:“Vermont wildlife policies allow certain species, including coyotes, crows, porcupines, skunks and weasels to be killed without limit even when there is no intent to consume or use the remains. This is called “wanton waste” killing. Should Vermont wildlife policies prohibit the “wanton waste” of wildlife, except when these animals are causing damage to property or agricultural products?”  The result of the survey indicates that 70.5% of Vermonters who responded opposed the intentional and wasteful destruction of Vermont’s wildlife. You can learn more on Protect Our Wildlife Vermont’s website.
Killing wildlife for no reason other than target practice or recreation is authorized by the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Board in a blatant disregard for ethics and responsible hunting practices. Killing wildlife with no intent to utilize the animal is referred to as ‘wanton waste,’ since animals are often left to rot where they‘re killed. Coyote carcasses are found each year across Vermont — their war torn bodies strewn like garbage for the unsuspecting hiker to stumble upon. Gruesome photos of dead coyotes captioned with comments like, “kill ‘em all” and “the only good coyote is a dead coyote” are omnipresent on social media.
This speaks to the deeply rooted culture of hatred and loathing towards these intelligent canids. Both hunters and non-hunters alike should be able to come together on activities like these and condemn them. The current policies and regulations of the Fish & Wildlife Board do nothing to discourage wasteful killing of wildlife and actually may encourage it with open hunting seasons on many animals, including opossums and coyotes, who both play vital roles in Vermont’s ecosystems.
Vermont law requires “The State, through the Commissioner of Fish and Wildlife, [to] safeguard the fish, wildlife, and fur-bearing animals of the State for the people of the State.” There is a growing contingency of people who want better protections for wildlife, yet feel as though their voices fall on deaf ears. It remains to be seen whether the Fish & Wildlife Department and Board will embrace an evolved culture that seeks more humane wildlife management with a greater focus on compassionate conservation, and abundant populations of watchable wildlife that all can enjoy.
Leslie Blow

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