Op/Ed

Letter to the editor: Scott’s history of vetoes threatens animal legislation

There are two bills currently in the Vermont legislature, Bill H.626 — An Act Related to Animal Welfare — and S.258 — An Act Relating to the Management of Fish and Wildlife. S.258 has passed the senate, and H.626 has been stalled in the House Appropriations Committee. The governor is opposed to these two pieces of legislation.

Gov. Scott so far has vetoed 47 pieces of legislation passed by the legislature. These bills took an enormous amount of time and resources for people to pass. How much taxpayer money has Scott wasted and how many people, who have worked tirelessly on these bills, has he thumbed his nose at?

The governor has been in power for seven years. He hasn’t had competition when it comes to reelection, at least when it comes to the financial clout of his opponents. Scott thinks he’s untouchable. But it’s time he step aside.

Phil Scott is a lot like former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, who vetoed bills that prohibited the use of gestation crates on pregnant pigs (also known as the “pig crate ban”) in 2013 and 2014. These bills overwhelmingly passed the New Jersey legislature. God forbid a female pig should have the right to stand up, lie down, turn around, or extend her limbs while she lives in filthy conditions with no light provided or kindness given to her. The pork producers had Christie’s loyalty, and there were “only” 9,000-ish pigs in New Jersey who would have been affected. Such an infinitesimally small welfare improvement, but Christie wanted his bacon with as much suffering as possible.

Gov. Scott is no different. Apparently, Scott believes that hounds do not need justice and baby goats do not need food. He believes that female bears should be shot for recreation and cubs don’t need mothers (Fish and Wildlife denied a petition to ban the intentional killing of sows).

Animal abuse is rampant in Vermont. People have tried to fix a ridiculously inept and broken system that operates more like backwoods Arkansas than any progressive state when it comes to animal protection laws and wildlife reform. Goats were starved for months on end and, ultimately, died of starvation in Charlotte in 2023, which prompted H.626. Animals are routinely abused, but if the “owner” voluntarily relinquishes that animal, s/he faces no charges.

Wild and farmed animals are at the bottom of the barrel when it comes to empathy and consideration given to them. The Fish and Wildlife Department’s definition of “humane” is taking five minutes for a beaver or muskrat to die from intentional drowning. It’s time to reform the archaic non-educated wildlife board and bring wildlife policy into the 21st century. It’s time for the department to follow science for real, instead of pretending to or preaching about it when it’s convenient for them.

Gov. Scott is directly responsible for how VT Fish and Wildlife manages wildlife. He chooses the board — hand-picked by him according to his personal whims and friends list. He chooses board members who don’t submit applications. Those who submit applications and have backgrounds in science are ignored. The commissioner doesn’t need any training or background in science. Gov. Scott chooses the commissioner. Gov. Scott knows how to play his hand but, at some point, he’s going to fail.

Dogs and other animals (including protected and endangered ones) have been killed and injured by body-gripping traps. It’s only a matter of time before a person or a child gets caught in one. It may have already happened since VT Fish and Wildlife buries these reports. Gov. Scott is against body-gripping traps having setbacks or being marked for public safety.

A woman and her dog were attacked and chased for miles by coyote hounds, and it was buried and hushed by the department. A couple and their dog were attacked by a pack of bear hounds for 45 minutes — all suffered injuries. No laws were broken in Vermont. No apologies from Scott to the victims. It’s his policies that were directly responsible.

Scott supports hounding. He does not side with property owners who repeatedly deal with hounders trespassing on their property or the victims of hound attacks.

Media and news outlets don’t report much on wildlife policy or animal cruelty even after serious issues are brought to their attention. So, many Vermonters have no idea how backwards Vermont really is when it comes to these issues.

If you care about wildlife and want to see science-based environmental policies implemented in Vermont; if you care about your dog, animal welfare, and want perpetrators of animal abuse to face some kind of consequence; then Scott needs to go. Your dog wants a new governor, and so do I.

Alana Stevenson

Charlotte

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