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This Wednesday, April 7, starting at 9am, the Vermont House Committee on Natural Resources, Fish, and Wildlife will meet to again consider H. 167, H. 172 and H. 316, which impact hunting with dogs, and hear testimony from additional invited guests . The committee hosted two meetings on these bills last week .

ESTABLISHMENT OF AN ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDSHIP BOARD
H. 167 as introduced would create a board to oversee the policy decisions of the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources regarding the management, protection, and conservation of surface waters, wetlands, wildlife, forests, agency lands, groundwater, air quality, and other natural resources managed or regulated by the agency.  The committee received more than 400 emails in support of H.167 as introduced.

However, at last week’s meeting, the lobbyist for the Vermont Wildlife Coalition, the primary supporters of the bill, detailed a scaled-back proposal.  The American Kennel Club (AKC) is concerned that the scaled-back proposal would:

  • Fail to include representatives from every Vermont county, including rural counties, on this new board,
  • Provide that board members would be political appointees, without requiring essential experience and knowledge by appointees, and
  • Mandate training by appointees in ideas promoted by animal rights activists.

CONTROL OVER HUNTING DOGS
H. 316 would require anyone hunting bear with dogs to have them under visual and verbal “control” at all times.  AKC is concerned that, from a practical standpoint, H. 316 may provide the basis for effectively prohibiting hunting activities that require dogs to track game, which may not meet the proposed definition of “control”.

Responsible dog ownership requires control of one’s dogs at all times.  Instead of outright bans on hunting with dogs, a dog owner ought to be held responsible if their dog causes damage to a person or domestic animal.  36 other states hold dog owners strictly liable for dog bites.

RELATING TO HUNTING AND TRAPPING
H. 172 would outright ban hunting for bear with dogs, and limit a property owner/caretaker from setting traps only when rabbits or fur-bearing animals are found in the act of attacking, worrying, or wounding that person’s domestic animal or destroying their property.  Instead, animals deemed a nuisance would be managed by a “nuisance wildlife control operator” who would set traps on another’s property for compensation.  This newly-created state license would require that applicants complete a course on non-lethal methods of animal control and show proof of no misdemeanor or other conviction over the past three years.

The American Kennel Club encourages and strongly supports the interaction and mutual enjoyment of owners and dogs in sporting activities such as hunting and field trials; in working circumstances such as herding, tracking, and pulling; and in competition events such as dog shows, obedience trials, agility trials, and other performance events and tests. The AKC believes that dogs should be properly cared for, humanely trained, and not pushed beyond reasonable limits for which they were bred.  The AKC has no position on trapping practices.

WHAT YOU CAN DO:  AKC strongly encourages those who reside in Vermont to contact the committee members with the above concerns and state your opposition to H. 167, H. 172 and H. 316.

Rep. Amy Sheldon, Chair at asheldon@leg.state.vt.us

Rep. James McCullough, Vice Chair at jmccullough@leg.state.vt.us

Rep. Harvey Smith, Ranking Member at hsmith@leg.state.vt.us

Rep. Seth Bongartz at sbongartz@leg.state.vt.us

Rep. Nelson Brownell at nbrownell@leg.state.vt.us

Rep. Katherine “Kari” Dolan, Clerk at kdolan@leg.state.vt.us

Rep. Paul Lefebvre at plefebvre@leg.state.vt.us

Rep. Leland Morgan at lmorgan@leg.state.vt.us

Rep. Kristi Morris at kmorris2@leg.state.vt.us

Rep. Larry Satcowitz at lsatcowitz@leg.state.vt.us

Rep. Thomas Terenzini at tterenzini@leg.state.vt.us

For more information on these or other legislative issues in Vermont, contact AKC’s Government Relations Department at 919-816-3720 or doglaw@akc.org.

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