As if wildlife didn’t have it hard enough, now they’re caught in the crossfire between those who wish to protect them, such as Protect Our Wildlife, and those who only see value in how many bobcats, beavers, otters and other species they can trap and kill for recreation. What POW encountered with a Vermont trapping lobbyist negatively impacts not only wildlife but communities and biodiversity.
Protect Our Wildlife works with private landowners and towns by granting funds to install high-quality water flow control devices that protect beavers from trapping and roads from flooding, as well as promoting lush habitat that’s enjoyed by herons, moose, turtles, fish and other species. Beaver-created habitat provides residents with more fruitful ponds to fish from, a more lush habitat from which to bird watch and, in the era of drought, a bountiful water supply. Beavers have been extensively written about lately, with articles referring to them as “environmental engineers,” especially as it relates to mitigating the effects of climate change. Too often, the first line of defense is to trap and kill beaver families, and this often occurs during times of the year when beavers are birthing/nursing their young.
A Vermont trapping lobbyist tried to sabotage our work by contacting towns that POW seeks to partner with, spreading untruths about our organization in an attempt to dissuade towns from working with us. A Vermont resident who has been working with POW to obtain grant funding for a water flow device raised her concern about this same lobbyist at a recent Fish & Wildlife Board meeting. Why would anyone, trapper or not, seek to discourage towns from receiving free money to help mitigate beaver conflicts in a humane, sustainable and non-lethal fashion? It seems that when one can’t win in other arenas (e.g., the Legislature and the court of public opinion), resorting to underhanded and divisive tactics may feel like winning. What may seem like “winning” to one person comes at a cost — both personal and financial — to towns and their select board members who are trying their best to do right by their communities and end up engulfed in an unnecessary political firestorm that’s fueled only by ego.
This same lobbyist also tried to get a volunteer wildlife rehabber in trouble with the state due to a water structure the rehabber used to care for beaver kits (who were likely orphaned by trapping activity — the irony). This volunteer rehabber also happens to be a POW Board member. He has dedicated his life and has spent his own money caring for orphaned beavers and other wildlife, only to be unfairly attacked.
Our mission is simple: Working to make Vermont a more humane place for wildlife. Our all-volunteer team provides outreach and education on coyotes, bears, beavers and other wildlife to schools, camps, libraries, and museums. We offer online resources to help reduce human-wildlife conflicts, including bear conflicts. We support Vermont’s volunteer wildlife rehabilitators with funds and supplies. Hundreds of Vermonters reach out to us each year to report injured animals and possible poaching cases. We are proud to represent broad stakeholders from 7th-generation Vermonters to NYC transplants, to vegans to deer hunters. Trapping lobbyists can try and tarnish our good name, but at what cost?