Vermonters are hearing a lot about wildlife conservation these days, but often traditional conservation ideology isn’t in the best interest of our wildlife in general. It’s no doubt that Vermonters care deeply about wildlife; however, if we want better protections for our wildlife, then we must become more engaged.
Did you know that when large parcels of land are purchased by the state that commercial trapping is automatically part of the deal? When it comes to conservation, I can’t think of a greater responsibil-ity than to do everything we can to protect Vermont’s endangered species, such as the Canada Lynx, American Marten and the Bald Eagle. Trapping poses a risk to these animals who are injured and killed in traps set for other animals. Whether a kill trap or a leghold trap, traps cannot differentiate between the trapper’s target animal and other non-target animals, including endangered species, birds, and even cats and dogs.
In just one year alone, 14 American Marten were reported killed in traps set for other animals. This number may be much higher since reporting by trappers of martens injured or killed in their traps is not required by the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department. There is no way to know the impact these “incidental” trapping occurrences have had, and continue to have, on the overall American Marten population if reporting is not required, not to mention the extreme pain and suffering experienced by the animals.
I’m sure much of this information is new to people and it shouldn’t be that way. The majority of Vermont residents are left out of the decision-making process, as witnessed by the composition of the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Board, which is comprised of only consumptive users of wildlife; there are no representatives who choose to enjoy wildlife without necessarily hunting or trapping them. If wild-life is truly here for all of us to enjoy, then isn’t it time that we are given a seat at the table where decisions are being made that adversely impact our wildlife?
Executive Director, Protect Our Wildlife POW