Letter: Trapping supporter is wrong about POW

To the editor:

As a conservation biologist who supports the important work of Vermont's only wildlife advocacy group, Protect Our Wildlife (POW), I would like to address some of the more egregious and misleading statements made by Kevin Hoyt in his recent letter to the editor.

First of all, POW, a group with close to 5000 followers/likes on its Facebook page, clearly represents the majority of Vermonters (75 percent according to a recent UVM poll) who oppose trapping. They embody a powerful voice of opposition to the remarkably biased and often irresponsible directives of the Fish & Wildlife Board, who are all trappers and hunters, one individual is a taxidermist. In fact, POW is the only Vermont group that challenges their often ill-informed decisions and policies.

POW's stated mission is, "to create a more humane environment for wildlife, including animals trapped or confined on farms for their fur." The website contains an enormous amount of well-documented and current information on the benefits of co-existence, protection, and respect for wildlife. The Board of Directors and members consist of biologists, wildlife rehabilitators, educators, veterinarians, environmental scientists, and other professionals who seek better protections for wildlife.

POW acts as an effective counter to those who choose to violently exploit wildlife for their own interests. Their work consists of educating the public about issues relating to wildlife, supporting Vermont's licensed wildlife rehabilitators, monitoring wildlife legislation, advocating for humane laws, working to repeal inhumane laws, and ensuring enforcement of existing laws and rules. They also provide referrals to people who are looking for humane ways to address wildlife conflicts.

Trapping is an indiscriminate means of killing and results in the deaths of many non-target species including protected/ endangered animals, domestic pets, and non-target wildlife. It is a sadistic and wasteful way for individuals to exploit wildlife for personal gain. Ecosystems balance themselves through cycles in which populations fluctuate according to available food/prey sources. If these cycles are not disrupted by human activity (like trapping) predators, as well furbearers, will self-regulate their own numbers.

Trappers kill robust animals with lush pelts, not sickly individuals. These are often mothers whose orphaned offspring are left to die of predation or starvation. The claim that trapping controls rabies is nonsensical hyperbole — rabid animals are not hungry and not attracted to bait in a trap, and trappers cannot target individual animals.

The year round persecution of coyotes is particularly counter-productive as "management." These highly adapted animals respond to hunting/trapping stresses by increasing litter sizes, reproducing as juveniles, and becoming more aggressive toward non-typical prey such as livestock and pets. Plus, coyotes, foxes, and opossums are impressive rodent consumers and should be viewed as allies in fighting the growing public health crisis related to tick borne disease.

The obsolete and cruel traditions that define trapping are dangerous ingredients in our fragile landscape. Habitat loss and increasing effects of climate change already stress Vermont's wildlife. Consequently, conservation of biodiversity must become a management priority and trapping must be banned.

The bias toward special interest groups clearly evident in the Fish & Wildlife Department agenda is staggering. I am immensely thankful that the many dedicated and passionate volunteers of POW are paying attention. They represent those of us who want Vermont's wildlife, a public trust, to be managed ethically with compassion and respect. Responsible stewardship needs to be informed, unbiased, and representative of all stakeholder's interests and values — not only those with the loudest voices.

— Jennifer Lovett



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