Op/Ed

Letter to the editor: Bray lauded for bear hound bill

I write to both thank and commend Sen. Chris Bray (D-Addison County) for his commitment to ensure that all Vermonters are represented and heard when it comes to wildlife matters. The legislation that he proposes in bill S.321 is long-overdue, especially the section on bear hounding. 
There are numerous problems with bear hounding that his legislation seeks to address, which include violations of landowner rights, mother bears and their cubs being placed in danger each year starting on June 1 during the hound “training” season, and the tightening up of the current definition of “control of dogs.”  
Currently, bear hound hunters unleash their packs of radio-collared hounds onto our lands while the hunters can be miles away in their vehicles with only their GPS transmitters tracking the dogs’ locations. Their hounds can be chasing protected wildlife like fawns or moose calves during the training season, which begins on June 1, or they could be terrorizing hikers and their pets as we saw happen in Ripton last year. 
Bears are pursued by hounds for six long months in Vermont, and given the challenges that bears and all wildlife are facing at present as a result of climate change, that time frame needs to be shortened, if not eliminated altogether.
I , along with Sen. Bray, am in support of the ban on wanton waste of wildlife, something that both hunters and non-hunters should, in my opinion, agree upon. And, very importantly, a review of the current Fish & Wildlife governance model that is both outdated and losing money each year, must take place as provided for in S.321.
While I’d love to see an outright ban on bear hound (and coyote hound) hunting, I believe Bray’s proposals to be fair. But as we see far too often, the Department of Fish & Wildlife is decidedly unwilling to compromise or even give an inch on these vital issues.
Susan Burns
Middlebury

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