Victory! Vermont’s Hounding & Trapping Rules Denied In Part
In exciting news, lawmakers in Vermont have stepped up to protect animals by objecting to four measures proposed by the Fish and Wildlife Department related to trapping and hunting coyotes with hounds because they didn’t meet the legislative intent to create “best management practices” that would protect humans and animal companions, and reduce the suffering of wild animals.
Hunting coyotes with packs of dogs, referred to as coyote hounding, is a brutal and violent practice. A pack of hounds chase coyotes to the point of exhaustion. When they are cornered, scenes akin to dogfighting ensue where coyotes are viciously ripped apart. Hunting dogs are also sometimes neglected and treated as property. Trapping is equally as brutal. Animals are caught in leghold traps and crushed in body-gripping traps. But now the legislature has expressed support for greater restrictions on both practices.
In Defense of Animals created an alert for Vermont residents to submit comments to the Fish and Wildlife Board earlier in the process to suggest changes to the rule that would further benefit wild animals. Despite the many people who spoke up in support of more stringent regulations and restrictions on trapping and coyote hounding, the Fish and Wildlife Department moved forward with cruel recommendations from hunters and trappers instead.
The Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules, a committee tasked with reviewing new rules put forward by agencies, saw through the hollow recommendations Fish and Wildlife made to the rule and denied four parts of the rule. They specifically rejected the narrow definition of “public trails,” the definition of “control of hounds,” including trapping in the definition of hunting, and exempting traps set in water or under ice from having to be set back away from trails. These objections are now permanently attached to the rule, and they leave Fish and Wildlife vulnerable to litigation regarding the four objections.
Activists in Vermont were diligently engaged in the issue, attending committee meetings and Fish and Wildlife Board meetings, giving testimony, speaking at public hearings, writing articles, and providing facts and figures about the harms of trapping and coyote hounding. Our presence ensured that the decisions being made were not one-sided and that the well-being of animals was represented.