Monday, March 30, 2009

Proposed position cuts at Fish and Wildlife - call to action

Vermont Sportsmen - your calls, emails and letters urgently needed to legislators. The Governor has proposed cutting 6 positions at the Fish and Wildlife Dept. on top of positions (like my old HE training coordinator slot) that are already gone. Legislators need to hear from you - if we don't stand up for wildlife - who will?
Don't wait - they will be voting very soon.
Following is what I wrote to my Lamoille Co reps:

Dear Representative (Senator),
I'm writing to urge you to oppose the Governor's proposed cuts in positions at The Fish and Wildlife Department. I understand the need to save general fund money during these tough times. However, there is no savings to be had with the proposed cuts in fish and wildlife. I know you are well aware that fish and wildlife is serious business in Vermont. Sportsmen and conservationists need a strong partner with the state. Even without these possible cuts nearly 3 million federal dollars have been left unclaimed in the last few years due to under staffing.
Of these 6 targeted positions, only one relies on general fund money for 25% ($17,500) of the total cost of the position. The remaining five positions have been 100% funded through federal monies and hunting/fishing license sales. The Department currently has adequate federal/license dollars to support all of these positions, including retirement and future health care costs. In fact, it will actually cost the general fund $18,000.00 more dollars to cut these positions than it would to keep them. (see attachment for more details)
I know you need to find ways to save state money or find new money. It does not mean going along with a Governor who appears to be playing politics with employee numbers, which in this case do not save money, but will cost money. I suggest temporarily cutting the general fund allotment to Fish and Wildlife rather than cutting positions. Better
yet would be a slight increase in the sales tax of 1/8th of 1-cent dedicated to the Fish and Wildlife Department as advocated by the VT Wildlife Partnership. This additional money could be then leveraged for millions of federal wildlife dollars.
Thanks for listening,

Support teaming with wildlife funding

TAKE ACTION: Support a Critical Bill for Fish and Wildlife Funding

The Teaming with Wildlife Act will provide a dedicated source of funding to the state's management of fish and wildlife. Ask your Senators to support this important legislation today.

Click here to take action.


Friday, March 27, 2009

Turkey Hunting Safety Tips from VT F&W

WATERBURY, VT For many Vermont hunters, May first is almost as important as the opening of firearms deer season, and while turkey hunting-related shootings are rare, extra precautions are needed.

Wild turkeys are not the dummies popular myth makes them out to be. Their keen eyes can easily detect movement and out-of-place colors, making camouflage or drab colored clothing almost mandatory, at least when you are set-up. Unfortunately, camouflage has the same affect on other hunters as it has on the turkeys. Consequently, hunter safety experts warn that you never hunt turkeys by attempting to stalk them.

“Stalking is the common denominator in twenty-one out of the twenty-four turkey hunting-related shootings we have had in Vermont,” said Vermont Hunter Education Coordinator Chris Saunders. “Sometimes it’s the stalker who is mistaken for game. Sometimes it’s the other hunter.”

With the opening of spring turkey hunting season near, the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department urges hunter to review the following safety tips:

Ø Never try to stalk a gobbling turkey. Your chances of getting close are poor, and you may be sneaking up on another hunter

Ø Stick with hen calls. A gobbler call is intended for special situations and might attract other hunters.

Ø Don’t be patriotic. Avoid red, white or blue. A tom turkey’s head has similar colors.

Ø Avoid unnecessary movement. This could alert turkeys and attract hunters.

Ø Don’t hide so well that you impair your field of vision.

Ø Wear hunter orange to and from your hunting location, and wrap your turkey in some hunter orange cloth for the hike back to the car.

Ø Always sit with your back against a tree trunk, big log or a boulder that is wider than your body. This protects you from being accidentally struck by pellets fired from behind you.

Ø If you use a decoy, place it on the far side of a tree trunk or a rock so you can see the birds approaching from all directions, but cannot actually see the decoy. This prevents you from being directly in the line of fire should another hunter mistakenly shoot at your decoy.

Ø Never shoot unless you’re absolutely sure of your target. Since only turkeys with beards are legal during the spring season, lack of positive identification could result in shooting an illegal bird, or worse, another hunter.

Ø Consider wearing hunter orange while moving from set-up to set-up. Take it off when you are in position.

Remember, only turkeys stalk turkeys! Keep hunting safe in Vermont and make it even safer.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

NY times article on NY Enviromental Police in the city

Polluters, Beware: These Eco-Police Officers Are for Real

Officers with the State Department of Environmental Conservation have become more prominent as awareness of pollution’s role in global warming has grown.

Venture outside with ‘Becoming an Outdoor Family’

Camping weekend has something for everyone to love

WATERBURY – Make a date with your family and book now for the 12th annual “Becoming an Outdoor Family” weekend, May 29-31, at Stillwater State Park, hosted by

the Departments of Forests, Parks and Recreation, Fish and Wildlife and the University of Vermont Extension.

At $165 for the weekend and chock full of everything you ever wanted to do outside, the event is the perfect kickoff for a summer of affordable outdoor fun at any of the 52 state parks around Vermont.

Whether you’re new to camping or experienced in outdoor adventures, Becoming an Outdoor Family offers a myriad of workshops to expand your nature-loving repertoire and introduce your family to new outdoor adventures.

There’s mountain biking, photography, canoeing, shooting, basketry, nature writing, archery, fishing, hiking, a Dutch oven cooking class and much more—all taught and supervised by outdoor professionals. Expert instructors begin each class with the basics, providing hands-on experience and encouraging participants to ask questions.

“Becoming an Outdoor Family is a popular event that brings families together to learn outdoor skills, share common interests and have fun outside – away from the busy-ness of every day life,” said Jason Gibbs, commissioner of Forests, Parks and Recreation. “Becoming an outdoor family is a great way to make the most of family time together.”

Stillwater State Park is located on Groton Lake in 28,000-acre Groton State Forest. It has 17 lean-to sites, and 62 tent/trailer sites. There are some excellent sites and lean-tos on the shores of the lake where you can boat right up to your campsite. Stillwater also has a boat launch and a beach, and just down the road is the Forest Nature Center. Close to the campground is the beginning of many of the 22 miles of hiking trails that meander through Groton State Forest.

For more information, contact Gail Makuch ( or Lisa Muzzey (, 802-257-7967 or 1-800-278-5480 (toll-free within Vermont). Or, online at:

TR the conservationist president

I just finished reading Edmund Morris's The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt. I highly recommend it if you haven't read it yet. I didn't realize that Roosevelt was in Vermont attending a luncheon of the Vermont Fish and Game League on Isle La Motte when president McKinley was shot on Sept 6, 1901. Better known is Roosevelt was on Mt Marcy in the Adirondacks when McKinley died and he became president.
I found the following write up on the Sagamore Hill National Historic site web page that contains an interesting view on Roosevelt's role as a conservationist and how hunting and trophy hunting was compatable with his leadership in this role. Click on the Handbook for Leaders button for more interesting information
More at

Conservation, Preservation, Taxidermy, Hunting Trophies,
(Dead Animal Parts on display in Sagamore Hill)

TR is often held up as the first conservation president, and indeed his record of conservation and preservation is
almost unmatched. But, how does one explain all the taxidermy on display in his house? It is one of the paradoxes
about this complicated man that needs examination and explanation in order to come to an understanding.

First of all, it is a general rule of examining history, that we cannot use the standards of today to judge the stan-
dards of another time. Today we think of preservation and conservation in very rigid terms. The only thought of
going on a safari in Africa today would be to collect photographs and film footage, but TR was hired by the Smith-
sonian and the American Museum of Natural History to collect samples for display in these museums. In TR's
youth and even during his presidency there was a general feeling that the natural resources were almost inexhausti-

During TR's youth, there was a huge wave of exploration and investigation of uncharted lands and the emphasis
was on identification and documentation (maps, charts, etc.) and, by extension, the species of flora and fauna that
lived there. The motivation of documentation required the collection of the life forms, so samples were taken for
later classification. Plant samples were collected, pressed and dried, and animal species were killed and preserved
in various ways for later cataloging and documentation.

TR had come from a well-to-do family who lived in bustling Manhattan. The earliest mention of his fascination
of wildlife forms was after he visited a market where a dead seal (yes, seals used to live in the waters surrounding
New York City) was displayed. The sight of this dead seal prompted a life-long curiosity, fascination with and
study of natural history fauna life forms. Indeed he began collecting specimens as a youth which he displayed in a
closet in his boyhood home and called the "Roosevelt Museum." We are not sure if this coincided with his father's
founding of the American Museum of Natural History.

But TR, a sickly child troubled by asthma, who often suffered greatly as a result of its effects, was granted two
rather unusual wishes as a youth: Boxing lessons (as a form of exercise suggested by his father to help build up his
strength); and taxidermy lessons. TR began his collection, classification and display of taxidermy samples early in
his life, and this collection continued throughout his life. Many of these (75 objects) are displayed at Sagamore
Hill in various forms: Rugs, trophy mounts, three are fashioned into decorative or "useful" objects (elephant tusks,
an elephant foot as waste receptacle and rhino foot as an ink well).

In addition it was very much the fashion to display and decorate with animal trophies. The curiosity that drove the
exploration of strange lands was tangibly shown by using these trophies as decorative objects, and they were very
much status symbols. In the same way we join certain organization or clubs, drive particular makes and models of
cars, and wear certain shoes or garments, these items were a way of stating to all a certain status level.

For further thought:

What are the status symbols of today, --what watches, shoes, jackets, cars or trips to far-off lands do we regard as
marks of status?

How about collections?

Does anyone collect sea shells? Do people realize that a shell is actually a dead animal part, that the shell was the
outer protective covering of an animal.?

Note: Shells are a good way to bring collecting animal trophies into discussion. There are few people that have
the same reaction to a shell collection as to animal trophies, yet for all of them the animal had to die to permit dis-
play of the item, whether head, skin antlers or shell. While shells may be collected at the shore where the animals
presumably have died of natural causes, most serious collections result from collecting the live animal, so that the
shell or shells are pristine and not buffed by the waves.

But how about leather shoes? How about fur coats? Animals die for these common items in our life today.

Conservation and preservation and TR

TR is often regarded as the first "conservation president" because he saw and began actions to conserve natural
resources and preserve sites of archaeological significance, particularly in the Southwest.

Conservation is the term usually used for the act of preserving and saving natural resources, (forests, wildlife-
preserves, lands, etc.). America had gone through a period of growth and development during which the use of
these natural reserves, originally seen as inexhaustible, began to become depleted. The move to limit this usage
and development was not at all popular because merchant developers saw this activity as a limitation of their in-
come-producing ability. Forestry and logging for example, especially in the Northwest, threatened the destruction
of the vast reserves of trees that had taken centuries to develop. The naturalists John Muir and Gifford Pinchot,
though their individual goals differed considerably, were among those who encouraged Roosevelt to develop his
conservation ethic as they saw these reserves being depleted. In addition to the conservation efforts of TR¸ the
development of the science of forestry by Pinchot (who endowed a Chair at Yale), and the establishment the Sierra
Club, (Muir) and the Boone and Crockett Club were direct outgrowths of this conservation effort.

Further investigation:
Those wishing to investigate this area further may wish to look up the following items: Gifford Pinchot; US For-
estry Service; John Muir; Sierra Club; Boone and Crockett Club

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Open letter to the Fish and Wildlife Board re: Retrieval and Utilization Rule

Written testimony of Eric Nuse, representing myself and as president of Orion, The Hunter’s Institute.
Members of the Fish and Wildlife Board:

Thank you for giving me this opportunity to comment in writing on this important rule concerning retrieval and utilization of wildlife. I stand in favor of the intent of the draft rule and specifically in favor of the modified language attached to the end of this testimony.

My organization, Orion-the Hunter’s Institute was formed to raise the bar of hunter behavior, promote fair chase and democratic hunting in North America. Our definition of an ethical hunter is: “A person who knows and respects the animals hunted, follows the law, and behaves in a way that will satisfy what society expects of them as a hunter.”
I’d like to look at this definition as it relates to the proposed rule. A major way hunters show respect for “the animals hunted” is what they do with it after the kill. For the majority of hunters this means field dressing the animal, cooling the carcass, using as much as possible of the meat, hide, and feathers. Preserving the meat, sharing the harvest and preparation of the meat in special ways and serving it on special occasions is also part of the honoring of the animal. Compare this with behaviors that the rule seeks to make illegal: attempting to take game and then failing to make a reasonable attempt to retrieve them; if retrieved, dumping unwanted or mishandled carcasses on the ice, on public lands or private lands without permission. Clearly these are egregious behaviors that no hunter would ever publicly endorse or openly admit to doing. Failure to officially sanction such actions could easily be interpreted as condoning this behavior.

The definition goes on to state “…and behaves in a way that will satisfy what society expects of them as a hunter.” A 2007 national survey of Americans done by Responsive Management, shows that 80% support hunting if done with the intent of eating the meat. This support drops to only 20% if the purpose is for trophy. I can only imagine what the percent would be for killing commonly eaten game animals and birds or furbearing animals and then dumping the carcasses in public view without utilizing the meat or hide. I remember learning in the police academy that a good way to test if something was right or wrong is to imagine seeing yourself on the evening news doing what you are about to do. If you are willing to let the film roll it is probably OK, if not don’t do it!

Clearly the proposed rule is in alignment with the definition of an ethical hunter. The question now is should it be illegal allowing for state sanctions and enforcement or should the actions described remain unenforceable and legal? A useful way to analyze this is to determine whether harm is being done by the behavior or if the behavior is simply offensive. If this wasteful behavior is only offensive it is my position that peer pressure, group hunting codes and education are the proper ways to improve it. However, it is my strong belief that this behavior is doing real harm directly to hunters and indirectly by eroding support for hunting.

Access to private land is critical to the future of hunting in Vermont. Surveys of landowners who post their land point to poor hunter behavior as the prime reason for posting. Yet we know that it is only a small fraction of hunters who behave illegally and unethically. The reality is it only takes a few to spoil it for the many. This problem is bad enough where the few are violating enforceable laws, but when their behavior is not illegal and the landowner cannot get any help from the wardens to curtail it, it starts to look like the hunting community doesn’t care. This is especially problematic with the wanton waste issue. Why have hunters and the Board failed to act? Everyone at the hearing I attended professed to never violating the intent of the rule. Why are we protecting those who do violate this ethic?

I think a strong argument could be made that this rule does not go far enough. However, to do so could start to encroach on privacy rights, landowner rights and hunters’ use of common sense in the field. The cure could be worse than the problem. I feel the intent of the rule that came from the committee addresses the core issue, puts teeth into an ethic that most hunters follow and will minimize the harm done by those who don’t voluntarily follow the code.

Some hunters at the hearings raised the concern that the number of violations of this code is so low that we don’t need the rule. I think that is a good thing. I am proud that the majority of hunters use what they kill and trappers skin their take and anglers eat their catch or return the fish to the water. But that still does not make it OK for the few who do violate the code. I know from my years as a field warden that there are hunters who only understand the force of the law. They only did what the law required and even then only when they thought the warden was watching. They didn’t care about other hunters, the game or the future of our sport. These people need a bottom line of acceptable behavior and it is the job of responsible hunters to define that line for them. The way to do that is in the form of a regulation that is crafted by sportsmen.

Several years ago a group of dedicated hunters and professional wildlife managers looked at the success of wildlife conservation and hunting in the US over the last 100 years. They identified seven principles that took our wildlife from scarcity to abundance. Principle number 4 is “Wildlife can only be killed for legitimate purpose.”
I urge the Board to codify this principle and pass this regulation.
Thanks for your attention and your service to the wildlife and sportsmen and women of Vermont.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Hunter legally takes bighorn, leaves meat, loses trophy in court

Some hunting groups in VT think this behavior should continue to be legal in Vermont. Others like the Federation of Sportsman's Clubs, VT Traditions and the VT Trappers Assn do not.

Hearings are set for the proposed Fish and Wildlife Board rule on Retrieval and Utilization. Let your voice be heard.

The public hearings will be held from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. on the following dates as follows:

March 10 -- VT Fish & Wildlife office, 111 West Street, Essex Junction

March 11 – Pavilion Auditorium, 109 State Street, Montpelier

March 12 – Kehoe Conservation Camp, Castleton

Hunter legally takes bighorn, leaves meat, loses trophy in court

Download a PDF of this storyStatesman Journal

February 18, 2009

Statesman Journal • February 18, 2009

A Gresham man who legally killed a bighorn ram will lose his hunting privileges for two years for leaving the carcass of the animal to rot near the John Day River.


Ronald Edward Cecil, 49, was sentenced in Gilliam County Circuit Court to $6,800 in restitution ($5,300 of it suspended), a year of judge-supervised probation and loss of the hunting privileges after pleading guilty to waste of wildlife.
The head and horns of the ram also were confiscated.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Vermont’s Nongame Wildlife Fund Seeks Taxpayer Support

If we all give a little, wildlife will benefit a lot!

Vermont’s Nongame Wildlife Fund Seeks Taxpayer Support

WATERBURY, VT –After years of absence, common loons, peregrine falcons and ospreys are now nesting again in Vermont, and their numbers are increasing. In fact, they have done so well, they are no longer listed as endangered or threatened in Vermont. Their successful comeback can be credited to Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department’s Nongame and Natural Heritage Program – a program now seeking individual taxpayer support to help support work on other aquatic and terrestrial species.

Many Vermont taxpayers have been contributing to the Nongame Wildlife Fund since 1986, when the fund was created to help pay for work done by biologists with the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department and its partners to manage and enhance wildlife species that are not hunted or fished.

“Contributions at tax time by Vermonters who care about protecting nongame species and their habitats are just as important today as when the program started,” said Steve Parren, Coordinator of the Nongame and Natural Heritage Program. “Contributions have totaled more than $100,000 each year, which helps keep this program successful.”

Wildlife is fortunate to have lots of support in Vermont where a survey shows 62 percent of residents actively enjoy wildlife one way or another. Vermonters were third only to Montana and Maine as participants in wildlife recreation. Activities include hunting, fishing, feeding birds, and observing or photographing wildlife.

“Thanks to Vermont’s Nongame contribution line 29-a. on our state tax form, we also can be wildlife conservationists by giving to our Nongame and Natural Heritage Program at tax time. Look for the loon logo on your Vermont tax form, and do your part to help Vermont’s nongame wildlife,” said Parren.