Thursday, June 24, 2010

Free Press Editorial: Secrecy fatal flaw in Pete the Moose bill

June 24, 2010
Editorial: Secrecy fatal flaw in Pete the Moose bill

The saga of the amendment passed to save Pete the Moose from slaughter reflects a deeply troubling disregard for the open government and the idea that our elected representatives always must keep the broad public interest foremost in mind.
The legislation granted Big Rack Ridge in Irasburg exemptions from state hunting preserve regulations that banned the enclosure of wild game and the mingling of wild and captive animals.
The intent was to allow the preserve to keep Pete the Moose, an orphaned moose raised in captivity, but the law also allows Big Rack Ridge to claim ownership of wild white-tailed deer and wild moose within its fenced lands.
The result was a transfer of what has always been a public good to a private individual who may use it for personal gain -- in this case, as fodder on a hunting preserve. Right or wrong, the best intentions can be obscured behind a veil of secrecy. That the law, as the Free Press reported, was "written behind closed doors, kept secret from the Fish and Wildlife Department and introduced on the session's final day" is its fatal flaw.
No one familiar with how government works in this state should be surprised at the dark route this amendment traveled to passage. Secrecy is often the way business gets down from town offices to the Statehouse.
Many can claim credit for keeping the moose bill from anybody who might have a stake in this issue other than the owners of Big Rack Ridge: Sen. Robert Starr, D-Essex-Orleans, for writing an amendment to benefit Doug Nelson in secret; Sen. Susan Bartlett, D-Lamoille, candidate for governor, for adding the Starr amendment to the must-pass state budget on the final day of the session when there was no time for a proper debate; and Gov. Jim Douglas for his administration's participation in the cover-up.
Brian Ames, chairman of the state Fish and Wildlife Board, describes the whole situation as "depressing, discouraging." He raises the critical point that no one can treat wildlife like a personal pet "except if you are well-enough connected, apparently you can."
That's the point.

The measure loses credibility because it was drawn up and passed without public knowledge or debate, kept secret from even the regulators and experts within state government, and benefits a man who an aide to the governor who helped keep the bill a secret says "has been flouting the law for years."


  1. Hey Eric,
    Can you provide any insight on to what Douglas's office and Wibs McLean did to assist in the passage of this?

  2. My understanding and from what McLean told the FW Board was they knew something was up and purposely kept Fish and Wildlife and the Agency of Natural Resources in the dark. The Dept of Ag attorney drafted the amendment. Looks like plausible deniability at work to me.


    July 2, 2010

    Letter: 'Pete the Moose' deal disqualifies Bartlett

    I'm exasperated by the machinations of Susan Bartlett and the Legislature in the decision to reverse the settled, scientifically sound policies of Fish and Wildlife, and exchange them with a last-minute, secret deal that has a single purpose -- to protect the private economic interests of Doug Nelson of Irasburg ("Potent alliance," June 20).

    As decisions go, it's about as dumb and dangerous as you can get, and it's almost impossible to overstate the legal, ethical and bio-security problems associated with it. Worse, it undermines the state agency that actually has the smarts and the science needed to protect wildlife from potentially devastating diseases.

    Susan Bartlett, the author of this short-sighted, closed-door legislation, is not qualified to be governor.


  4. Dear J.d. Green,(local D.J. Froggy 100.9)
    If you knew the future, ,, would you reconsider today? As I sit here thinking of how best to inspire people, the oil spill plays on T. V. , a great background! Another man made problem! Don't like it? Well truthfully, only the Amish can complain... right? Have you stopped talking about saving "Pete" the moose on your morning radio show? It would be a sad testament to yourself... if you did. I hope that your not feeling to used by the farmer , Mr. Nelson, now that he's saying he'll sell "Pete's" kids for about $4000 to $9000 each. Turns out the future isn't all that hard to see! Mr. Nelson's looks ... profitable and legal... thanks to misinformed people led astray by greed. It was the Cherokee, Rolling Thunder who said"You can't just sit and talk about the truth. It doesn't work that way. You have to live it, be part of it and you... might... get to know it." I was looking at his picture on the cover of the paper and I see a man ...questioning his life and there's some guilt in there... look close... you can see it in his eyes! The Free Press, June 20, 2010 , In the truck front page! I sure would like to look into Sen. Susan Bartlett eyes as she explains her part in the biggest pouching ring of wildlife in the history of this state. Do you think that Sen. Robert Starr could explain any definitions to words like " Conservation" or "Public Trust" or " Democratized Involvement"? Does he know The Seven Sisters of Wildlife management.
    1 That wildlife is to be held in public trust. ( All citizens can .."lawfully"... partake in it and help in its protection for "future" generations, You Know... Your & MY Kids... Not His!)
    2 By eliminating commerce in dead wildlife we hope to secure species from becoming extincted. ( Oh...He has a restaurant!)
    3 Allocated use of wild life through law . Buy a hunting licence & follow the rule book & pay the excise taxes that hunters placed on themselves.( to pay for wardens, scientists, biologists , Hunters safety instruction materials.... So people will learn... ethics... shooting safety... ecology... habitats and all the rest of life's lessons that will raise a new generation of hunter that is an attractive, law abiding, active citizen to gaurd the well being of "conservation."
    4. Hunting opportunity for all. (all citizens can hunt not by class or by landownership!)
    5 Appropraiate use of wildlife ( not for profit....Hint hint!)
    6 Wildlife is International. ( Do you think Quebec will sue us if they get cwd or T.B.?)
    7. Science is the basis for wildlife policies. ( Prove they can't get out... show the testing.... work cooperatively with the others who live here...Explain how ecosystems work and why we can't survive without know ..the only Vermont we have!)

    Then there's the truth...

    The govenor sent in his pawns. They are scared for there gov't jobs and know in the back of there minds the truth is and will be painfull.

    Farmers minipulate nature to there benefit.

    Our great country is doomed when ideals of ethical citizenship, public trust, democratic gov't are pushed aside by "technology" "self interest" and the all mighty dollar , while our children sit in front of the T.V. and we ship Grandma to the old folks home. And we plan a shooting trip to Big Rack Ridge!

    I'm not really mad at people for being slow learners and as the slaughter begins. I only hope my sons will be able to show their sons will how track moose and deer in the Northeast kingdom!

    I am willing to teach hunter safety to ANYONE!Rod Elmer

  5. Rod,
    Thanks for your comments and insight, very well put! This is a very big deal and we must prevail...

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