Hearing draws large crowd
Hunters want spikehorn ban to be statewide
February 20, 2005
Some of the SOS from 20 years ago BS that folks believe to be gospel. Why can;t they believe that doe permits/hunting can work in VT ...it works in just about every other state ! vermonstaa
By DENNIS JENSEN Staff Writer
The seats in the Rutland Intermediate School auditorium were filled to capacity. Men and women stood packed to the back of the place and spilled out into the hallway.
The people didn't flock to Rutland Thursday night to take in a rock 'n' roll or country music concert. They came from around Rutland County and well beyond to talk about Vermont's diminishing deer herd and what could be done to make it better.
About 600 people jammed into the auditorium and more than 50 came forward to give testimony to the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Board about several proposals for the coming deer seasons.
In December, the board passed on a first vote a plan put forward by Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department to prohibit the hunting of spikehorns in three wildlife management zones, including one in Rutland County.
The board is also proposing a one-buck bag limit in the state for this year's four deer seasons. Currently, a hunter can tag three bucks in one year.
"We should limit the season to one deer," one deer hunter said. "Listen to the sportsmen here tonight."
But board Chairman Rob Borowske made it clear at the start of the hearing that the board's mind is far from made up on the two main proposals brought by the board.
"All proposals are still on the table," Borowske told the crowd. "They are not carved in stone. We will be taking public opinion into good account."
The board will take two more votes on the two proposals.
Most of the men who stepped up to the microphone echoed similar comments made at the board's first hearing, held in Springfield two nights earlier. About 350 people turned out for that hearing.
Two more hearings will be held in northern Vermont this week - at Lyndon State College on Tuesday and in St. Albans on Thursday. Both hearings begin at 7 p.m.
John Krupp of West Haven probably drew the loudest applause of the evening when he criticized both the board and the Fish & Wildlife Department for making excuses for the drastic decline in Vermont deer numbers. He also challenged yearly estimates about the size of the Vermont deer herd.
"Your credibility is next to zero or none, right now," he said. "You've been telling us every year that there are 150,000 deer in Vermont. You've said that the weather was bad or the deer were sleeping or something else."
The large crowd turned out mostly because of the disastrous firearms buck season held last November.
Hunters shot just 5,589 bucks during the 16-day season, the second-lowest kill in more than 50 years. Just four years ago, hunters tagged 10,235 bucks during the firearms season.
Speaker after speaker made it clear that, while they were in favor of a moratorium on spikehorn bucks, it must be a statewide plan and not a limited one as is being proposed. Not a single person supported a spikehorn moratorium in the three zones, as proposed.
"Go statewide with the antler restriction (no spikehorns) and shoot one buck only," one hunter said. "And do something about the coyotes."
While thousands of them are shot every year by Vermont deer hunters, only one person stood and spoke in favor of shooting spikehorns.
Curt Hier of Fair Haven said he had no problem with shooting the young bucks.
"I enjoy shooting spikehorns," he said. "I get to hunt five or six times a year. It's just as exciting for me. You're taking away 35 percent of my chances for success."
Spikehorn bucks make up a sizeable number of the total buck kill during the yearly firearms season. Every year, about 35 to 40 percent of the bucks dragged out of the woods during the November firearms season are spikehorns.
Another hunter laid the current problems with the Vermont deer herd at the feet of the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department in general and Commissioner Wayne Laroche in particular.
"I put the blame on fish and wildlife," one man said. "The fish and game commissioner should be sent down the damn road."
Laroche has not been seen at either hearing, but Craig McLaughlin, the department's director of wildlife, has attended both.
As they were in Springfield, coyotes were blamed for being one of the biggest reasons for the dramatic decline in the Vermont deer herd.
Donald Felion, who is organizing a coyote hunting tournament starting on Feb. 25 in Whiting, said he would like to see Laroche take part in the event.
"We need to get rid of the coyotes,," he told the board. "I wish the commissioner was here to give him an entry form (to the coyote tournament), seeing as he doesn't want to come."
Laroche has come under considerable criticism by hunters after he told a reporter last week that he thought the "1st Annual Howlin' Hills Coyote Hunt" wasn't a good idea.
"You can hunt coyotes all year round," Laroche said. "But this might not be good for hunting and we want to discuss with them our concerns about the public perception of what's going on."
Many hunters spoke out against coyotes and their effect on the deer herd. The suggestion of offering a bounty on coyotes was mentioned time and again.
"Put a bounty on them," one hunter said. "They've killed off the rabbits. Now they're going after the deer. We definitely have to go after the coyote problem."
The annual youth deer hunt, introduced in 1997 as a way to get young people involved in hunting, was also criticized by a number of people.
"They're going out and shooting anything that moves," a Fair Haven man said. "Where are they getting their hunting ethics?"
Other hunters called for an end to hunting does, at least for the next 3 to 5 years.
"We should have a moratorium on shooting does," said Stan Knapp of Jerico.
Contact Dennis Jensen at firstname.lastname@example.org[COLOR=red][COLOR=red][SIZE=7][SIZE=7]
Gun Control; "The belief that government, with its great wisdom and moral superiority, can be trusted with a monopoly on deadly force".