Advocacy group wants fewer sportsmen on Vermont Fish and Wildlife Board

Protect Our Wildlife Vermont is unhappy with the current Fish and Wildlife Board and wants to see the governor appoint more non-hunter and non-trapper types to fill future vacant seats.

A recent statement from the Stowe-based advocacy group took aim at Republican Gov. Phil Scott for his appointments to the 14-member board that votes on and enacts fish and wildlife regulations.

“Last week, Governor Scott ignored numerous emails and phone calls from Vermont residents who asked him to diversify the Fish and Wildlife Board, which makes all regulations pertaining to hunting, trapping, and fishing,” the group’s press release states.

Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife

MORE ANIMAL RIGHTS?: Protect Our Wildlife Vermont wants non-sportsmen types to be appointed to the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Board.

Three open seats on the board recently were filled with people considered to be experienced outdoorsmen.

“By appointing three lifelong hunters, the Governor rejected concerns that the Board needs to better reflect the opinions and concerns of all Vermont citizens, not just the estimated 16 percent who hunt, trap, or fish. Many have asked for a bipartisan appointee, such as a wildlife biologist to fill a vacancy, to no avail,” Protect Our Wildlife’s statement continued.

Brenna Galdenzi, president and co-founder of Protect Our Wildlife, told True North it’s not just animal rights people who would like a seat at the table.

“We’re not even recommending a PETA-like a person,” she said. “Maybe a wildlife biologist, or just someone with a bipartisan view.”

The board’s 14 seats are appointed by the governor and have six-year terms. Galdenzi said non-hunters and trappers are discouraged from the application process.

“Why even put out an application?” she said.

Some policies set by the board include expanding bobcat and otter trapping seasons, as well as banning the hunting coyotes.

Galdenzi claims a large portion of the public feels ignored because the board has two members who are trappers while less than 1 percent of Vermonters participate in the activity. She noted that another board member is a taxidermist.

“Whether the conflict of interest is real or not, the perceived conflict of interest is important,” she said. “When you have people on that board who make money off of bobcat felts, coyote felts, or doing mounts as a taxidermist, they are not free agents. … There needs to be some kind of better representation..

Galdenzi added that the board “loses the flavor of democracy in a wildlife governance model,” which matters in decision-making situations.

“The thing is, these board members are not just making minor decisions on baitfish and things like that,” she said. “They are making major decisions on extending bobcat trapping season or otter trapping season, or [making] very big decisions on some of our charismatic wildlife.”

Protect Our Wildlife Vermont supports H.190, a bill in the House Natural Resources Fish and Wildlife Committee that addresses the wildlife governance model.

Louis Porter, commissioner of Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department, told True North he’s baffled by the group’s criticisms.

“The legislature has determined that these are legal activities, and in fact, the right to hunt and fish is enshrined in the Vermont Constitution,” he said. “It’s somewhat strange that they would try to curtail those activities by having their own representatives on the board.”

Porter disputed allegations from Protect Our Wildlife that the board has deviated from scientific advice on bobcat hunting season and bait-fish regulation.

“They presented those as if the board did not follow the department’s scientific advice, and in fact they did,” he said. “So I thought that was kind of a curious example.”

He added that the board is supposed to be filled with people who are experienced in what they regulate.

“The board’s role is to fulfill the legislatively mandated legal hunting/trapping regulations,” Porter said. “The idea that the board should be made up of people who oppose the legality of activities is somewhat strange.”

He added that a comparison could be made to other state boards and the types of members appointed to hold those seats.

“The dental board has dental hygienists on it; the board of architecture has architects on it,” he said. “There are a lot of state boards that have practitioners or people who are involved in these activities who sit on those boards. In New Hampshire, for example, you have to have a hunting or fishing license to be on the board.”

Porter maintains that the board has acted effectively and ethically with regard to wildlife regulations and violations.

“We vigorously enforce seasons, magazine limits, how you hunt, how you take animals,” he said. “We have the second largest state law enforcement agency and we’re devoted to enforcing those rules and those laws.”

Michael Bielawski is a reporter for True North Reports. Send him news tips at and follow him on Twitter @TrueNorthMikeB.

Images courtesy of USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service/Public domain and Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife

42 thoughts on “Advocacy group wants fewer sportsmen on Vermont Fish and Wildlife Board

  1. What POWV and other anti’s fail to realize, or more likely won’t acknowledge, is that the people with a direct interest in benefiting from a healthy wildlife population are the ones that will take care of it the best. If you are a hunter, trapper, fisherman, taxidermist, sporting goods store owner, etc. the thing that you want the most is to be able to have healthy and abundant wildlife. A good example is the late 1800’s when the whitetail deer population was eradicated from VT by overhunting. The organization that is now The Vermont Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs (VFSC) was instrumental in importing deer and creating hunting regulations so that the deer population could grow and thrive. When the Vermont State Tree Farm in Colchester (where Tree Farm Soccer is now) closed the State was going to plow under the seedlings. The VFSC and member clubs were instrumental in saving those seedlings and distributing them free to people all over the state. Tens of thousands of Oak trees were planted to improve habitat for wildlife at no cost to anyone because of the volunteer efforts of sportsmen. The VFSC, member clubs, other sportsmen and Vermont Fish and Wildlife worked together to re-establish the wild turkey population that is now thriving. Several years ago when the winter was very rough on the turkey population the call went out from VFSC, Fish and Wildlife and other sportsmen to voluntarily forego Spring turkey hunting season to give the turkey population the opportunity to rebound without being hunted. There was very little Spring turkey hunting that year even though the turkey hunters had licenses and could have legally hunted turkeys. Again, a number of years ago sportsmen found about tons of unsold field corn seed that a seed company was willing to donate. The Vermont Federation of Sportsman’s Club and many other clubs and sportsmen distributed the corn. Some went to farmers with the request that when they cut their corn in the fall they would purposely leave patches of corn standing for the winter for wildlife. Some corn went to people who were happy to plant corn patches that would be left standing. The Federation and other sportsmen’s clubs raise tens of thousands of dollars that is used to help pay for young people to attend the State Conservation Camps. There the kids learn about wildlife, the environment and how to protect it. Although they can take the Hunter Safety course at camp there are many other activities regarding the outdoors and how to protect and enjoy it. There are many other ways that sportsmen put their time and money into activities that benefit everyone who enjoys the outdoors and I hope that others will continue this thread about how sportsmen do things that benefit everyone. The sportsmen not only belong on the Fish and Wildlife Board because of their knowledge of what they are regulating, sportsmen have EARNED their place on the Board.

    • Good job Ed. You are so right on, but, unfortunately, those folks have no business thinking they should be involved just because they think that, regardless of the issue, they are the smartest people in the room.
      This is what has been happening in Vermont for years, ratcheting up every year.
      There is no way you or anyone else can appeal to their intelligence because they think they are somehow entitled to be in a position to pontificate and thus rule on ant issue.
      Sadly, it isn’t going to change anytime soon!

      • Instead of making derogatory statements regarding the information posted, please refute our reasoning with facts. What programs have the anti-hunting groups enacted to help preserve habitat and wildlife? Are there taxes or dues that you alone pay that go toward projects to help animals and habitat? What about projects you have undertaken to put money and time into improving habitat, like the Lamoille River Anglers who do planting projects to stabilize stream banks or money you have raised to help kids go to Conservation Camp? Anyone can sit back and make derisive comments, please let us know where and why we are mistaken in our belief that the Board is doing a good job.

        One idea that anti-hunters seem to believe strongly is that hunters and other sportsmen only go into the woods or to the streams for the sole purpose of harvesting game. Is should be obvious in comparing the number of hunters to number of deer harvested that most sportsmen have a special affinity for the outdoors that has little to do with harvesting game. We enjoy just being out in the woods for hunting or any other reason. Few hunters believe that a hunt without taking game is a waste of time. If it was only about taking game it wouldn’t be called deer hunting, turkey hunting, bird hunting etc. It would be called deer shooting, turkey shooting, etc. Please inform the people in this discussion what ideas anti-hunters would bring to the Board or do differently.

  2. All you antis really need to do some research other then your feelings for cute animals. One is that hunting licences contribute almost 80% of the money the state gets for,habitat saving and rebuild. The revenue it generates is in the $10s of millions for this state alone. I really dont want to take on more new taxes to make up for that lose. Yes I agree that there should be a couple of biologist on the board. But you have no idea about what hunting and fishing is. Yes its for food and sport/entertainment, but its also for a much needed population control. We do absolutely nothing to control the human population. We have to with wildlife. Humans have vaccines, nature does not. With higher populations comes more disease. FACT. Rabies, CWD, Lyme, white nose, brainworm act. are kept at bay with controlled density numbers. With more prey you get more and bigger predators. Predators prey on the easy, domestic animals. Its proven that coyotes, who are usually very skidish, become accustomed to humans and brave. Pets and small children now become easy meals. Its the food chain of life. And to anyone who thinks hunting is barbarek and grusom you really need to watch some nat-geo wild. I’ve seen coyotes and bear kill deer, it bothers this life time hunter (heartless killer in your eyes). The raccoons and weasles that get into our chicken coop. Senseless murders with some or all just left there. Hawks and eagles earing prey alive, or flying them up into the sky and dropping them, repeatly sometimes, until they die. One shot,one kill. Its as fast and painless as it gets. Nothing really goes to waste, the skavengers and bugs will always find a carcuss for an easy meal. The rest decays to feed the plant life.

    • Here’s an NRA article about CWD in the deer population Copied the intro:
      Can We Fight Zombie Deer?
      Mention zombies and everyone sits up and takes notice. The topic of zombies has become a fun intellectual pastime in the last decade. As proof, look no further than the nearest selection of popular TV shows, blockbuster movies, green-tipped bullets or lime green AR-15s. The recent reference to deer zombies infected with chronic wasting disease (CWD) in the media is neither accurate nor appropriate, but it was successful in sparking a much-needed discussion about the seriousness of the condition.

      Here’s the link to the article:

      Looks like it’s heavy in the WY area to MI and a spot in NY.

  3. Leave our politics a lot within our state, the governor had done the right thing, and we surely dont need an outsider who knows nothing about hunting elected for a board member. That’s absolutely ridiculous!

  4. This was a smart move by Governor Scott. You can bet that these groups want to restrict and or abolish the hunting and fishing in the state. Probably all a bunch of vegans.

  5. Where is this groups outrage over the composition of the Vermont education board? That board is infested with self serving, teachers union puppets. They take steps to further teachers union jobs, wages and benefits (often at the expense of Vt children and families) The number 2 player (Willie Mathis) “serves” on the Vermont education board while he also “serves” as the managing director of the Colorado based, TEACHERS UNION FUNDED, national education policy center. If this elitist group is concerned about the composition of Vt boards, they should start with the education board….or is that not their true concern?

  6. To hell with you hippies go live in Connecticut vermonters dont want you here changing our laws and telling us how to live. Everywhere liberals go they want to destroy the current way of life and crush anyone who disagrees. Then push everyone out by adding taxes and regulations on everything until theres no freedom left.

  7. Funny how the “other side” all of a sudden is commenting here. It would the same as putting a convicted arsonist on a fire safety committee. These people are another symptom of the disease of liberalism.

    • It would be unrealistic to think that TN is not being monitored by the “other side”, if only to keep tabs on the enemies of flatlanderism.

  8. People who have experience in knowing first hand; animal numbers, harvesting management, and health of the population, i.e. outdoor sports enthusiasts, are the only ones qualified to be on the board. The PETA sort of individual on the board would merely protect all animal species until disease due to over population would wipe out each species to extinction. PETA=big hearts but no brains.

  9. ” Protect Our Wildlife Vermont ” is unhappy with the current Fish and Wildlife Board !!

    I’m so sick of all the ” Johnny come lately ” liberals, that flock to this state with their ideas
    or feel they need to change our way of life and how we have run our F&W ……….

    I have fished these streams and rivers my entire life and I’m an old Vermonter and I have
    never seen any reason to change the current format of who’s on that board………

    Liberals, they have already ruined most of Montpelier, now they want to try and take over our
    F&W board…….. Protect our Wildlife VT, Wolves ( PETA ) in sheep’s clothing !!

  10. There’s a reason why hunting and trapping is becoming less popular in this state, as manifest in the declining number of license holders: the generation that considers the slaughter of our wildlife a legitimate and acceptable pastime, a ‘tradition’, is dying off. Its the younger generations that are looking at these activities with a new and critical eye. The idea that coyote, fox, beaver or any of the other fur bearing mammals in our midst are nothing more than garbage to be exterminated for our own pleasure is an attitude that is quickly becoming unacceptable, thanks to the great work of organizations like Protect Our Wildlife. The tide is shifting, and I’m confident in time saner methods of wildlife management will replace the anachronistic means Fish & Wildlife use now to ‘conserve’ our wildlife.

    • Adding a bit too much drama in your comment, very, very few involved with hunting act as you say, but your cause without drama or facts really doesn’t exist does it? The tide is shifting, people have no understanding about how nature works, none.

      • slaughter of our wildlife………‘tradition’
        mammals in our midst………garbage to be exterminated
        quickly becoming unacceptable
        tide is shifting
        saner methods

        Nicely stated, Neil. The above were the trigger buzzers I had quickly picked out before realizing I had a prior mission. Was going to do a rant of my own but you saved me the trouble–with a lot fewer words. Now I can get on with my garden prepping for the summer that’s dragging its feet getting here.
        And woe to the woodchucks, rabbits and other critters emulating the freeloading flatlanders.

      • Bull. You hunters are as bad as the Progs in this state. They indoctrinate our youth on Communism and you indoctrinate them on hunting.

    • The reason is because kids are raised with electronics and with no physical ambition. Go back a couple decades and kids from non hunting and fishing families would go,with their,friends that did those things and get hooked. Guns where on the rack not,in a safe. Kids learned firearm responsiblity and how to respect them. Not to be affriad of a gun. Just as dangerous as a car. And I agree there should,be,a biologist,or,two,on the board and they will tell you that wildlife population control is manitory for them to live with us. With out it diseases will get out of control ie: rabies, CWD, white nose, lyme(even more so) brain worm ect. Domestic animals will become even more easier targets, and even small children a long with adults. When there’s more feed theres more predators. Predators pick the easiest meal. Domestic. We can’t keep the human race population in check with what the enviroment can handle, we have to with wildlife

  11. I think we should not just fight these folks but take back a little ground.

    Change the name from Fish and Wildlife to Fish and Game.

  12. The implosion of hunting and trapping license sales has been happening for decades…the suggestion of a campaign to stop buying licenses is irrelevant.

  13. The time has come to stop buying hunting and fishing or two years without the revenue will make a difference .. go hunt and fish in N.H. or Maine or anywhere else. It would be tough I know, but …

  14. Louis Porter conveniently ignores the fact that the board establishes public policy over public resources without the public’s voice or vote -all contrary to Vt Statutes Title 10. To suggest that the public should have no voice or vote over their resources is simply undemocratic and contrary to Vermont values.
    Gov. Scott’s decision to kick the can rather than address the calls from the industry, from the wildlife profession,from wildlife advicacy groups and citizens, is the epitome of sticking one’s head in the sand and hoping someone else stands up to reality.
    With each day, the leadership of the department and the board becomes less relevant. Living in a bubble from another time and place does not serve today’s citizenry.

    • ‘Establishing public policy over public resources without the public’s voice or vote’.

      Golly, Walter – that’s never happened before in Vermont, has it?

  15. Commissioner Porter’s comparison to a dental board is ridiculous. The FW Board is making public policy decisions on a public “resource”
    (wildlife) without a balance in public representation. Otters, bobcats, foxes and other wild critters do not belong to trappers and hunters. Wildlife is here for ALL, yet the general public has no say.

    • You’re welcome to enjoy every last wild critter you can find that has survived posted hunting/trapping seasons, along with those that don’t get terminated while in the process of harassing livestock. While on that subject, howabout a dues assessment on Protect Our Wildlife Vermont to compensate those of us sustaining losses from YOUR wildlife critters? Hmmmm??

    • The general public has complete say, everybody is posting their lands, you guys don’t want any hunting for anyone, it’s pretty simple. You do realize we are omnivores?

    • Robin, look into the composition of the Vermont board of education, surely you will be concerned about the make up of that board as well, right?…..After all, our children and families are more important than big public education monopoly union jobs.

  16. This is just another example of liberals gone wild. They want to restrict everything that doesn’t suit them. Without getting into this and I could name a bunch coming from these progressives/liberals, You better look at what hunting/fishing and trapping licenses and the income from these pay for in this State…

  17. I agree wholeheartedly with Protect Our Wildlife Vermont. There is a huge difference between killing animals for food and killing animals for fun. And the medieval, torturous, inhumane devices these people use to trap and kill their prey are indescribable! What one calls nuisance animals is subjective. And who are these people to wantonly and indiscriminately kill OUR wildlife? It’s not THEIRS exclusively; wildlife; nature, belong to ALL VERMONTERS. Young people recognize this. And they reject animal abuse. ( Notice how going vegan is gaining in popularity?) This also affects how they feel about GUNS and the 2nd amendment. As an intransient supporter of the 2nd amendment (and a gun owner) , I see how kill-happy hunters could affect our Constitutional rights. Common sense, along with humane legislation, could go along way to protect those rights!

    • You do realize the life of animals consist of prey and predator? Animals in the wild either starve to death, freeze to death or are eaten alive…..generally speaking? Do you understand what it’s like to have some animal eat you while still alive? First they’ll nip and break you hamstring so you can’t run, then they will eat your soft under belly while you are alive, tearing away your flesh and bowels. Mutual of Omaha wild kingdom, highly recommended, any real life wilderness footage would be a good education.

  18. Absolutely ridiculous that anyone who is anti Hunter would be appointed to basically a fish and wildlife board which deals with hunting regulations and fishing regulations. Why don’t you guys just go get a life somewhere

  19. Let’s see this group has fostered more wild animal growth every year for decades, so what is the complaint from those outside the board. Oh, yeah, they don’t want people to hunt, trap or fish. Sadly we’ve grown up in a world of PETA, where people think animals are people and no understanding of natural concepts, like prey, predator, circle of life in the animal kingdom. We need better education.

  20. VT sportswomen and men should thank Gov. Scott loudly and in the press for holding off these anti-wildlife sports people. It is a simple matter to see what their end-game is – no responsible management of the wildlife in the state.

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