Trea Hsieh-Lewis: Let’s end the wanton waste of Vermont’s wildlife

Walter Medwid: Refocus Fish & Wildlife mandates so it's on conservation


This commentary is by Trea Hsieh-Lewis of Burlington, a junior at the University of Vermont who’s majoring in animal science.

One of the reasons I love Vermont so much is the wildlife this state is home to. Vast landscapes provide habitat for an abundance of animal species which interact with one another in the natural cycle of life.

However, natural systems, such as predator/prey population dynamics, are disrupted by unethical and wasteful hunting and trapping practices. Moreover, some hunters and trappers may kill unlimited animals in-season like foxes, bobcats and river otters. And, because many see coyotes as a mere nuisance species without recognition of their integral role in Vermont’s ecosystems, coyotes face this threat year-round.

Currently, there are no laws in Vermont to stop someone from participating in the reckless, meaningless slaughter of as many animals as they please and leaving their carcasses outside to rot like garbage. This unethical and wasteful killing of wildlife — killing for the sake of killing — is referred to as wanton waste.

This form of hunting is an overt bastardization of all ethical hunting practices that value utilizing the life taken. If not to provide food, warmth, or protection, then why kill a wild animal? Those who participate in wanton waste seek only to kill and overpower another being, which I see as a clear example of blatant cruelty.

Hunting, in particular hunting for food, is, without question, a key aspect of Vermont’s culture and heritage. To this day, modern hunters rely on the meat they have hunted to provide sustenance. However, there are still a substantial number of Vermont “sportsmen” who not only engage in wanton waste, but pass down this way of hunting or trapping to their children. It is dangerous to teach children to view wildlife merely as disposable objects and not sentient individuals capable of suffering.

There is current legislation, H.411, that simply requires trappers and hunters to use what they kill.

Most Vermonter’s disagrees with wanton waste. The University of Vermont Center for Rural Studies conducted a survey, which found that “70.5% of Vermonters … opposed the intentional and wasteful destruction of Vermont’s wildlife.” So let’s get this bill passed.

Legitimate hunters would still be able to hunt for food, fur, taxidermy, self-defense and land protection. Not only will H.411 address wanton waste that’s happening now, but over time it will change the lens through which hunters and trappers view the animals they kill. It will encourage and promote respect for the life that is taken.

Social media makes evident the disrespect with which some sportsmen treat wildlife, showcasing photos of piles of dead bodies and triumphant hunters showing off their temporary trophies. By enacting forward-thinking laws that protect wildlife, we can cultivate a more compassionate culture that values ​​the lives taken by hunting.

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Tags: H.411, hunting, trea hsieh lewis, wanton waste

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