The Public Trust of Wildlife got a boost today here in Vermont. Both the Burlington Free Press and Vermont Public Radio had feature pieces on a new bill designed to repeal the "Nelson Amendment" that passed in the 11th hour last year that gave control of native deer and moose to the operator of a shooting park in Irasburg. When the give-a-way of our public property became known, Orion began a campaign to educate Vermonters about the public trust doctrine. Using several papers commissioned by Orion in an earlier fight in Montana, it soon was clear to hunters and many legislators that this amendment was in violation of hundreds of years of common law and case law.
We then convened a meeting of the hunter/conservation leaders and legislators to craft a coordinated plan for reversing the damage and restoring the public trust of wildlife. Representative Kate Webb and Fish and Wildlife Committee chair David Deen crafted a draft bill. After input from the group at our second meeting the bill was finalized. With over 30 sponsors and the support of Governor Elect Peter Shumlin, it appears there is a good chance it will pass. However, the owner of Big Rack Ridge is unlikely to return ownership of "his" deer and moose to the citizens without a fight.
From Vermont Public Radio: