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September 20th, 2017

Rule Change favors Trapper Convenience?

Dear Editor,

Protect Our Wildlife opposes a trapper’s petition that seeks to extend the season in which otters can be killed in inhumane, body-gripping traps for their pelts. The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department has proposed a rule that would grant the trapper’s request, yet the Department has still not provided adequate justification for their support of the proposal.

When asked to provide justification for this particular rule change, the Department has admitted that their position is based solely on anecdotal information from trappers – hardly a reason to support extending trapping season on one of Vermont’s most cherished animals. The Department offers the flimsy explanation that they want to extend otter season so that the pelts of otters who are killed out of season accidentally in beaver traps, can be sold by the trappers. Yet when we asked the Department how many otters are killed out of season, they tell us the average is 0-1! This is a “solution” in search of a problem.

It’s evident that the Department supports this trapping extension for trapper convenience. Currently, trappers have to modify their beaver traps in March in order to avoid trapping otter out of season. Even though the trapper who submitted the petition claims that these trap modifications are “cumbersome,” the Department denies that trapper convenience is the motivation for their decision to support the proposal, yet has been unable to put forth any other basis that meets the “smell test.”

To elevate wildlife management into the 21st century, and to actually align it with the perils these animals face due to the effects of climate change, water pollution and other threats, the Department would be well-advised to proceed with caution. The Department should also consider the views of all stakeholders, including those who recognize the intrinsic value of Vermont’s wildlife, alive versus dead. 75% of Vermonters who were recently polled by the University of Vermont’s Center for Rural Studies want to ban trapping altogether. Fish & Wildlife, are you listening?

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