Op/Ed

Letter to the editor: Fish & Wildlife debate needs to go beyond ‘us vs. them’

The debate over the Fish and Wildlife Bill S.258 seems, unfortunately, to be turning into an “us vs them” scenario. We have seen this before in Vermont (eg. “Take Back Vermont”) and certainly it is an everyday occurrence on the national political front. It doesn’t have to be this way. Common ground exists in the wildlife debate and what won’t help find it is people yelling at one another.

Animals, both wild and domestic, have always been at the heart of controversy among humans. Whether it is the neighbor’s cows getting into your garden, foxes stealing chickens, domestic dogs running deer, coyotes attacking a small pet, the smell of manure spreading — it goes on and on. When Robert Frost said, “good fences make good neighbors,” he left out the phrase “and so does good communication.” The best way to deal with these issues, in my opinion, is to talk in a civil manor to each other and really find out what the other person thinks and feels and how the issue affects their lives. 

If you are a so-called “anti,” go out on a trapline with a trapper and see what work is involved and learn more about the environment that a particular animal lives in. Go hunting with someone who loves being out in the woods. Find out how important habitat is to these folks. And if you are someone dead-set on not changing how Fish and Wildlife is run, go to a wildlife protection meeting and see where these folks are coming from. Find out that you probably agree on more things than you realize.

I recently retired from running sled dogs for almost five decades and my father was in the fur business all his life. I’ve also had some experience working with animals on farms. And I know that animals evoke passion and emotion in humans. Just look at the centuries-old conflicts with wolves.

But if we are going to somehow survive climate change and our beautiful state of Vermont can be in the future an ecological bastion for both humans and wildlife, then we are going to have to do a better job of talking and living with each other.

Tone down the rhetoric and ramp up the communication. Good talking also makes good neighbors.

Ed Blechner

Addison

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