Wednesday, June 1, 2011

VT Gov. Shumlin Signs Wildlife Act

Orion executive director Eric Nuse speaking at the State House  (R-L) Brian Ames, Evan Hughs, Clint Gray, Nuse, Gov. Peter Shumlin, Commissioner Pat Berry, Rep. Kate Webb (VT F&W Photo - John Hall)

Measure will clarify that fish and wildlife are public resource

MONTPELIER -- Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin signed H.91 today, a bill passed by the Vermont Legislature clarifying that fish and wildlife of Vermont are a public, not private, resource. 

“I want to thank our Legislature for passing this bill clearly stating that the fish and wildlife of Vermont are held in trust by the state for the benefit of the citizens of Vermont and that these resources shall not be reduced to private ownership,” said Gov. Shumlin.  “It also helps reduce the possibility that our fish and wildlife could be harmed by diseases from outside Vermont.”

The bill says, “The State of Vermont, in its sovereign capacity as a trustee for the citizens of the state, shall have ownership, jurisdiction and control of all the fish and wildlife of Vermont.”
It goes on to say that the Commissioner of Fish and Wildlife shall manage and regulate the fish and wildlife of Vermont in accordance with legislation and rules of the Fish and Wildlife Board.  

Resolving a long-standing issue regarding a captive herd of white-tailed deer and moose in Irasburg, the bill charges the Fish and Wildlife Board with adopting a regulated process through which the number of the animals will be brought to zero over a three-year period.  It also requires that the deer and moose be examined for disease during the process, and it protects a moose known as Pete, while authorizing the relocation of that moose to another facility.

Vermont Fish and Wildlife Commissioner Patrick Berry applauded the diverse coalition of individuals and organizations passionate about fish and wildlife resources who came together to support the bill.  “I want to thank the broad cross-section of Vermonters who worked tirelessly to help pass this bill.  The collaborative effort shows our strong and unfailing appreciation of Vermont’s fish and wildlife, and it should serve as a model for future efforts,” said Berry.  “As a result, these resources will be managed by the Fish and Wildlife Department for the benefit of current and future generations of Vermonters.”


  1. In my comments I pointed out how valuable the work Orion had done on public trust in Montana, the Wildlife Society's Technical Paper, and the VT Law School's paper. I also thanked Representative Kate Webb for championing this bill in the legislature, the support of FWD Commissioner Pat Berry and his staff, former House Majority leader Floyd Neice, Senator Ginny Lyons and Gov. Peter Shumlin.
    The key to success was the rising up of the hunters and conservationist to reverse the violation of the public trust last year and forcing the legislature to do the right thing. Congratulations to all the sportsmen, environmental and conservation groups that made my work easy and our effort so successful.
    It was a good day for wildlife in Vermont!

  2. What's amazing and ridiculous is we're still clinging to an incredibly outdated set of rules and laws that make up the "public trust doctrine". We do this out of fear of what was happening hundreds of years ago in a different country. Nothing more, just fear.

    As for h91. There really is no cause for celebration because nothing has changed. Reaffirming the existing is maintaining status quo. Even with regard to Nelson, it's the status quo. It may even be mostly moot since he claims nearly 100 hunts last year, but claims roughly 60 Elk. Surely, he's not going cull his Elk herd by much. Anyway, here we are back to where we began with one of the most wasteful uses of government on the books: two departments doing the same thing.

    At any rate, now that we failed to fix something that wasn't really broken, how about focusing on fixing something that is broken. H.66 is a small step in the right direction.

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  5. Annon June 1 12:37 - It is true that we went back a step last year, but I do feel we went forward several steps and we are better off now than before for several reasons: 1) a lot more people, including legislators and the press know about the public trust doctrine and hopefully realize that the responsibilities of the state to wildlife are very high; 2) hunters, conservation groups and individuals demonstrated that they are a powerful force when they stay focused and work together. Both of these points will have ramifications into the future for conservation and the future of hunting.
    True also that there will be overlap of authority on Nelson's operation. Probably FWD should be have authority over the domestic elk also, but for now that is not going to happen. I suspect once Nelson;s dream of "trophy" whitetail's goes away the elk operation will wind down also.

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