Letters to the paper are not fact-checked and do not necessarily represent the views of The Bridge.
The Realities of Trapping
I would like to take a moment to address the pro-trapping propaganda that’s routinely promoted by Vermont Fish & Wildlife, as seen most recently in Commissioner Louis Porter’s interview with your paper from March 16th. It would benefit all Vermonters to have a transparent and honest conversation about the realities of trapping with Fish & Wildlife, but that’s just not possible. Fish & Wildlife is so deeply entrenched in catering to trapping interests, that they manipulate facts to justify their steadfast allegiance to trappers, who directly fund their Department.
Let’s start off by acknowledging that other states have severely restricted or banned trapping, including Colorado and Massachusetts, and there’s no overpopulation of foxes, raccoons and other furbearing animals. Fish & Wildlife would like us to believe that without trapping, we’d be at the mercy of population explosions. That is fear mongering rhetoric that’s lapped up by the general public who trusts that the Department is acting in an unbiased fashion. They are not.
Commissioner Porter talks about the doom and gloom of beaver problems in areas where trapping is banned. The Department routinely oversimplifies what happened in Massachusetts as a way to further promote their position of support of trapping. Landowners and municipalities in MA are coached on humane and sustainable options to mitigate beaver damage, and if the problem persists, there are still options to use lethal means as a last resort. The way things are in Vermont is that beavers, nature’s magnificent engineers, who in most cases cause no damage, are trapped and killed for “sport.”
The most troublesome part of the interview with Porter is where he tries to convince the public that traps don’t hurt animals, that traps just cause the animals stress. There is no way that someone in Porter’s position can pretend that they don’t know of the immense suffering animals endure while trapped. It is fact that trapped animals suffer from: broken teeth and bloodied gums as they desperately chew at the trap to free themselves; dislocated joints, broken bones and torn tendons from fighting against the trap; suffer from predation by other animals while they are immobilized in the trap and many self-amputate, which is common if the animal’s paw goes numb from the trap. If the animal is “lucky” enough to free itself, that luck will soon run out as the animal will likely perish from blood loss, infection, and the inability to hunt. The suffering doesn’t end when the trapper checks his/her traps. Trapped animals are bludgeoned, stomped on, strangled, drowned, or if they’re lucky, they’re shot with a .22. All of these details were missed from Porter’s interview. I think we know why.
If we’re going to talk about trapping, let’s start having honest conversations led by the Fish & Wildlife Department. To avoid the harsh realities of trapping and gloss it over is irresponsible and self-serving. The gruesome photos and videos of trapped animals (that trappers themselves share on social media and elsewhere) don’t lie and tell quite a different story from what Commissioner would like us to believe.
Brenna Galdenzi, President, Protect Our Wildlife POW , A Vermont Non-Profit Organization
The Right to Trap
Here it is again, “75 percent of Vermonters oppose leg-hold and body gripping traps.” Mr. Kelley in his opinion piece omitted to tell you that out of 2,900 people called only 509 actually responded, and of these 385 had a negative response to the two trapping questions in the poll. Three hundred and eighty-five respondents is a long way from 75 percent of Vermonters no matter hold you juggle the numbers.
Public Lands are just that, some donated to the state or towns, some purchased by our Fish and Wildlife Department using funds from license fees and some federal funds. Those lands were obtained without encumbrances so they could be open to all to enjoy so long as their actions were legal. Mr. Kelley also mentions sharing. Land trapping starts the last week of October and runs through the end of December. In most cases land trapping stops by mid December due to weather conditions. This means that those public lands are open to hikers, bird-watchers, snowshoers, cross country skiers, and dog walkers for the better part of ten months out of the year without traps being on the land.
Now, you and your group of “I don’t like your recreation” want to take away our right to trap public lands. I think the concept of sharing is one that you may not have a good grasp of at this time. What is the next “I don’t like”? Deer hunting because it’s too dangerous to have people with guns in the woods while other people are hiking or walking their dogs? Maybe it will be rabbit hunting because the dogs make too much noise while chasing the rabbit, and it breaks the tranquility of your walk in the woods.
I’m willing to share but not willing to be booted off because you don’t agree with what I can legally do per the State of Vermont Constitution, which states, “The inhabitants of this State shall have liberty in seasonable times, to hunt and fowl on lands they hold and on other lands not enclosed…under proper regulations, to be made and provided by the General Assembly”.
Mr. Kelley admits that he knows very little about trapping but felt that he could make the statement on public TV that the MB 650 trap was the commonly used trap to catch fox in Vermont and the Conibear 330 is used to catch fisher. Having trapped in Vermont for the last forty years and met with hundreds of trappers over those years, I have yet to find anyone that uses these traps in that way. The MB 650 is used to trap coyotes but mostly in the mid-to-western states. The Conibear 330 was designed for beaver trapping and would be set in or under water.
Mr. Kelley observed a trapper in Montana; Vermont has different methods that Mr. Kelley doesn’t seem to be familiar with. You also state that hunting and trapping have nothing in common, and that there is no more skill involved in baiting a trap near where a beaver, bobcat, or fox is known to live than there is in putting peanut butter on a mouse trap.
Successful hunters and trappers study and scout the animals they are pursuing. Many years are spent learning animal habits and habitat to develop a successful trap line.
Thanks for Voter Support
On behalf of the Board of Trustees and staff of the Kellogg-Hubbard Library, I want to express deep appreciation for the positive votes of financial support from the voters in the six communities that the library serves: Berlin, Calais, East Montpelier, Middlesex, Montpelier, and Worcester. We are encouraged by and grateful for your support. It will enable the library to continue to offer its services both at its home site and in the five towns. In addition to being open for 55 hours a week, we will continue to provide extensive programming for children and adults, access to computers, electronic services for accessing and renewing materials, and are always working to expand our services in the five towns. We want to hear from our patrons and community members. Please let us know your ideas for how we can improve our services by contacting Executive Director Tom McKone or any of the library’s trustees.
Steven M. Gold, President, Kellogg-Hubbard Board
Supporting the Second Amendment and Universal Background Checks
Like most people, I have many traits that make up my identity: I am a father, a husband, and a worker. Like many Vermonters, I can also add “hunter” to that list. Hunting has been a formative part of my life; it taught me the valuable lessons of hard work, persistence, resilience, and gratitude. More concretely, it has provided sustenance for my family. Guns are a crucial tool to hunting, and they will always be a significant part of my life.
Like many responsible gun owners and hunters, I am an avid supporter of the Second Amendment.
And, like many responsible gun owners and hunters, I am also a staunch supporter of universal background checks.
Background checks will not prevent all mass shootings, homicides, or crimes with guns, but this is not an excuse to sit back and do nothing. It is not a panacea that will abolish all gun crimes in the future. There is no one single answer. Background checks are but a key piece—along with other measures such as extreme risk protection orders and removing guns from domestic violence situations—that will help keep guns away from people who should not have them.
It is our responsibility to do whatever we can to reduce violence, reduce life lost, protect children, and improve public safety. Background checks enjoy broad support in Vermont and they work. A 2016 Castleton poll showed that 84 percent of respondents support universal background checks in Vermont. Studies have shown that in states that require background checks for all handgun sales, 47 percent fewer women are shot to death by their intimate partners, 53 percent fewer law enforcement officers are shot to death with handguns, and there are 53 percent fewer suicides by gun.
How easy does it really need to be to buy a gun? I am unmoved by some gun owners’ arguments that it will add cost or inconvenience to their purchase. I am personally willing to wait just a little longer or pay a relatively small fee to increase the odds that someone who shouldn’t be buying a gun might be turned away, or, better yet, won’t even try to buy one.
Daniel Mulligan, Richmond, VT
Thanks to the Youths of America
This past weekend, I watched with tears of hope and pride as the youths of America reclaimed our government.
As a child of the ’50s and ’60s, I remember our antiwar and reproductive rights marches across the nation that brought real change. But this teen movement is even more robust. These kids are more poised, articulate, connected, and diverse than we were; their colors, dialects, and histories prove that America is, indeed, a melting pot, and that our kids are, indeed, all right.
I thank whatever gods may be that the shameful, good-old-boy white network of people cowering in Congress for fear of losing their privilege will soon be replaced by these young people. As we sang decades ago and as Jennifer Hudson so powerfully sang on Saturday, “The times, they are a’changing.” Yes, it appears they finally are.
To our teenagers: Don’t let the bastards—or the system—beat you down. They will try, mightily, and for a long time. But my generation stopped a war and brought all American women birth control (yes, really) and reproductive choice. Now we look to you for common sense gun laws and economic/gender equality.
If we needed proof that you have the stamina, intelligence, organization, and determination to justify our trust in you, we got it yesterday. Thank you.
Kathy Hollen, Montpelier
What Do You Think?
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