Most people care about wildlife and assume that the Vermont Fish & Wildlife (VFW) Department is working to protect all wildlife on behalf of all Vermonters. Some biologists are doing important work, but other folks at VFW are only working on behalf of hunters, trappers, and anglers. VFW should be working to protect wildlife for their own sake – especially during spring and summer months when wild animals have young and should not be killed. Sadly, a lot of so-called “nuisance” animals are killed outside of hunting and trapping seasons. Killing them may also result in the deaths of more wild animals, as young animals can be orphaned. Furthermore, the “nuisance” behavior – seeking food or a den site or building a dam to create a pond – may simply be an animal’s attempt to care for her young. Killing a “nuisance” animal won’t prevent another animal from engaging in the same behavior, either. To make matters worse, VFW does not regulate “nuisance” trapping, so they don’t know how many animals are killed, where, why, whether the problem was solved, or any biological information about those animals. For an agency that should base its decisions on science, that’s pretty unscientific.
Fortunately, there is a group of people working to protect wildlife in Vermont. Protect Our Wildlife (POW) is a non-profit organization that has secured grant funding for a new “Living With Wildlife” campaign to help municipalities and the public humanely address wildlife conflicts; you can learn more online at www.protectourwildlifevt.org/conflicts.