One World wrong to support trapping
I recently learned that Bennington's One World Conservation Center has teamed up with the VT Fish and Wildlife Department to offer youth hunter and trapping education programs and is, therefore, supporting trapping in Vermont. I am a conservation biologist who worked at OWCC for several years in a variety of capacities from interpreter and exhibit designer, to ecosystem researcher. The stated mission of OWCC was to promote environmental education about issues related to conservation of native plants, animals, and ecosystems. Apparently this mission has changed and is no longer closely tied to responsible concepts of conservation. In addition to promoting trapping, hunting is now allowed in the reserve.
On Sept. 21, a group of wildlife advocates — veterinarians, wildlife biologists, wildlife rehabilitators, ecologists, and other concerned nature lovers — attended a meeting of the Board of the Fish and Wildlife Department to protest a petition to extend trapping seasons of bobcats and otters. This controversial meeting was filmed and taped by VPR because the protest voiced passionate and informed complaints against the inhumane and ecologically dangerous nature of trapping.
The indiscriminate aspect of fur trapping threatens domestic animals and non-target wildlife, as well as protected and endangered species. It can have a devastating impact on ecosystems and is condemned by most wildlife biologists as a scientifically unsound manner to manage wildlife. As people recognize the many problems, ecological as well as regulatory, associated with this obsolete and barbaric activity, trapping is becoming less popular in Vermont. Essentially, it benefits no one other than the trapper and the fur industry. And yet trapping is promoted by the F&W Dept. and now by OWCC.
Thousands of acres of public lands are available to trappers and hunters. Most of us who do not hunt avoid the woods in deer season although this is one of the most beautiful times of year to enjoy them. It is a shame that OWCC, a small, privately funded, and favorite local spot for many nature lovers, is now also off-limits during hunting season. With its remarkably diverse habitats, this is the perfect spot for educating the public about native plants and animals and the critical roles these species play in the environment. Apparently, I was under the false assumption that OWCC was a place that encouraged compassion, co-existence, and informed decisions about habitat and wildlife policy. I am heartbroken to see that this is no longer the case.
— Jennifer Lovett Stamford