Ross Saxton: look at land conservation, not new hunting laws, to protect wildlife

This commentary is from Ross Saxton, a resident of Waitsfield.

Calls to protect wildlife through new state hunting and trapping laws have recently become more of a focus in the Statehouse, which is also making waves on social media and in the news.

Discussions have arisen about the validity of these newly proposed laws, such as banning the hunting of bears and coyotes with dogs, along with stricter trapping rules.

Talking and thinking more about wildlife can certainly be a good thing for conservation. However, some of these “wildlife conservation” posts are more precise about animal welfare and distract from the real solution to protecting wildlife populations: land conservation.

Although animal welfare is an important topic in modern society, it should not be confused with conservation. The root of the proposed new hunting laws appears to be the ethics of certain hunting and trapping practices, and while considering the ethics of hunting and trapping is always a worthy undertaking for those who hunt game, what is ethical or moral should not be the guiding principle. must be for science-based wildlife conservation to achieve management goals.

Obviously, biologists — the professional scientists charged with preserving our wildlife — don’t quite agree that the proposed regulations outlined above will actually protect wildlife effectively (see VTDigger -commentary “Jaclyn Comeau: Misinformation distracts from Vermont bear conservation success,January 24, 2022, for example).

What is perfectly clear and indisputable is that land conservation is a time-tested strategy for protecting wildlife in our state. Wildlife habitat is increasingly threatened in Vermont each year as more and more people want to build new homes in our rural landscape.

Critical wildlife habitats, including irreplaceable travel corridors, are disappearing and are being affected in many places by development and mismanagement of forests.

However, there is very good news; Vermont is home to several effective land conservation organizations that work with private landowners every day to protect more land and wildlife habitats; these organizations include land trusts, regional conservation partnerships, municipal, state, and federal commissions and agencies; and non-profit organizations.

It is the work of these land conservation organizations that must be the main focus of conservation efforts if we are to achieve true long-term conservation. Making sure these organizations are properly funded and supported is, I believe, the best thing we can do to protect Vermont’s wildlife for generations to come.

Regardless of your stance on hunting or trapping, let’s come together and protect as much wildlife as possible through land conservation.

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Keywords: animal welfarehabitat threatshunt and catchland conservationRoss Saxtonscience-based conservationwild animals


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