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Two Vermont women found guilty of interfering with hunting, bear hunters were acting lawfully, courts rule

Two Groton residents were issued citations by a Vermont game warden on Nov. 11, following the investigation of an incident of hunter harassment. Both were found guilty of interfering with hunters on Nov. 22, in Caledonia Superior Court.

Topsham resident Theodore Shumway and two companions were hunting black bear with hounds in the 26,000-acre Groton State Forest near Noyes Pond on Oct. 9, 2021. A bear led the hounds onto private property before climbing a tree. The hunters entered the woods from Buzzy’s Road and retrieved the hounds, leaving the bear in the tree.

On returning to his truck with leashed hounds, Shumway encountered Donna Babic and Betty Eastman releasing air from the tires of his truck. Following an argument between the parties, one of the two women allowed a German shepherd out of their vehicle. The loose German shepherd attacked and injured one of the leashed hounds, which required veterinary care.

Vermont state troopers responded to an emergency call from Shumway to defuse the situation. A subsequent investigation by a Vermont game warden found the licensed and permitted bear hunters to be acting lawfully. The game warden cited Babic and Eastman with violations of Title 10 VSA 4708, Interfering with Hunting, Fishing or Trapping.

“Vermonters don’t always agree on wildlife management, especially when it comes to big game,” said Colonel Jason Batchelder, Fish & Wildlife’s chief game warden. “Even so, I would ask that Vermonters respect one another’s constitutional right to hunt. Intentionally interfering with legal hunters in any fashion will result in court action, especially in a potentially dangerous fashion as we saw in this case.”

The department supports public engagement with wildlife management through appropriate channels, including town government, the legislature, and the Fish & Wildlife board.

“Managing Vermont’s wildlife for a public with diverse values is a challenge and a privilege,” said Commissioner Christopher Herrick. “I encourage all Vermonters to join me in remembering our shared passion for wildlife, no matter how different our practices or approaches may be, and to remain civil and respectful as we discuss these important conservation issues.”

Babic and Eastman were each fined $262 and will lose their license privileges for fishing, hunting and trapping for a year.

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