On April 17, 2024

S.258 is a very bad bill

Dear Editor,

Under political pressure from animal rights groups, in coordination with a national organization, Senate bill S.258 was passed and is now in the House. This bill would remove the authority for rulemaking from the Vermont Fish and Wildlife board (Board) and transfer it to the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife. This moves rulemaking authority from a democratic forum to technocrats. Worse yet, the ANR, being part of the administration, is subject to powerful influence by whoever the sitting governor may be at the time — either personal or partisan influence.

The Vermont Fish and Wildlife board was created when the Vermont Legislature, after some disastrous decisions concerning the deer herd, decided it did not have the expertise, experience, or firsthand knowledge for setting hunting and fishing rules and regulations. Thus, they created a separate citizen-populated board, the Board, to handle the task. This was a very important step for bringing decision-making closer to rule by citizens, the essence of democratic government. The Board has done an outstanding job with what they were tasked to do.

Years ago the Water Resources board underwent this same transformation, to the detriment of Vermonters, in the decisions that have been made since then. Recently there was a demonstration of the role of the governor in proposed rules on wake boats against the wishes of almost all feedback from Vermonters.

All of this has come about due to the political pressure from animal rights groups whose goals, for the most part, would be to end all hunting and trapping — notwithstanding their claims to the contrary.

Those goals are what keeps those organizations alive. Their strategy is to do anything that would weaken the influence of hunters and trappers on rulemaking. This would be like putting right-to-lifers on the board of Planned Parenthood.

Please oppose it.

Ray Gonda, South

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