On May 31, 2023

A history of wildlife protection in Vermont


Dear Editor,

In response to a local Protect Our Wildlife representative’s letter in Front Porch Forum I’d like to offer a timeline as to how we sportsmen and women lived without “help” before the advent of non-consumptive users. This information is available to the public on the Fish and Wildlife Department’s timeline page. 

Here are a few entries on that timeline I have chosen: 

In 1876, Legislature gave the fish commissioner’s authority over game as well as fish.   

In 1878, 17 white-tailed deer were brought in from New York and stocked in Bennington and Rutland Counties. 

In 1906, the Fish & Game Department was created with one commissioner.    

In 1909, the first resident hunting license was created at a fee of 50 cents.    

In 1920, six county wardens were added as full-time personnel with a yearly salary.    

In 1937, Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration (PittmanRobertson) Act (an excise tax proposed by sportsmen, and women) was passed, providing funding to wildlife restoration   efforts in the states.The funding source is a federal tax on the manufacture of sporting arms and ammunition.    

In 1941, beavers were again found in all 14 counties.    

In 1955, a bull moose was spotted in Reading and another in Plymouth in 1956. Estimated to be 10 in the state. (how many are there now ?)  

 In 1969-1970, Biologist Bill Drake live-trapped 31 wild turkeys in southwestern New York and stocked them in Pawlet and Castleton. (Again,how many are there now)?  

 In 1971, the department gains support for deer management after the movie “Winter Bottleneck” showing deer die off in winter produced, and the last of Vermont’s bounties (on bobcats and rattlesnakes)  were repealed.   

In 1977, first reintroduction of peregrine falcons in Groton.   

In 1988, ospreys nested on an artificial nesting platform near the mouth of Otter Creek.   In 2005, common loon, peregrine falcon and osprey were removed from the State Threatened and Endangered Species List.  

I could not find any data about the historical numbers of black bears, but did find current data which states that “currently estimated  at between 4,600 and 5,700 bears” and that “Their numbers are higher today than they have been in 200 years.” 

 Sportsmen and women and the Fish and Wildlife Department have brought this renewable resource to where it is today, since it was all almost wiped out by land clearing for farming in the mid to late 1800s. All this before the advent of activist groups that oppose the science of wildlife management. Yes, we did it without their help, and we still are.  

 In closing I would like to say that if you are interested in wildlife, and supporting a whole ecosystem agenda, you can’t do better than investing your  money in the people that have brought Vermont from a condition of one big pasture in the late 1800s, to the healthy, diverse ecosystem that we can enjoy today.

 You don’t hunt, or fish? You can still put your money where your mouth is. Contribute to the Non-game tax check off,  buy a habitat stamp, or buy conservation license plates. 

Protesting those who brought us to where we are today is in this case not a sound investment in the future of our environment. Support sound, proven management practices. Support our Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department.

Pat Finnie,


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