The Silvio O. Conte National Wildlife Refuge is seeking public comment on its recreational hunting and fishing plan found here. This plan impacts the Nulhegan Basin Division in Bloomfield, Brunswick, Ferdinand and Lewis, and the Putney Mountain Unit in Putney. Please sign this petition and let the Refuge know that you oppose hounding on the Refuge—this activity is not compatible due to its indiscriminate and disruptive nature. We are also asking that the Refuge ban all lead ammunition due to the secondary effects it has on wildlife, including bald eagles that scavenge on animal remnants left in the field by the hunters.
Hounders unleash packs of powerful, radio-collared hounds on a lone bobcat, bear, coyote and other wildlife. This occurs not only during the legal hunting seasons, but throughout the year during hound “training” season. The hounds often chase the animals for miles until the exhausted wild animal either collapses, climbs a tree (where they’re often shot), or decides to stand its ground and fight back. This places both wildlife and the hounds in danger since the hunters are often miles away with only their handheld GPS tracking device. We consider this activity akin to animal fighting, which is illegal in Vermont.
Hounding is not a compatible use on wildlife refuges, since the activity places non-targeted animals and visitors at risk. A retired couple and their leashed puppy were attacked by bear hounds in Ripton, VT in Oct 2019 on public land. You can read about it here. Between hound training season and hunting season, the activity may take place all year, placing nursing mothers like bobcats and their kits in danger. The Refuge Plan lists Canada lynx as a threatened species, but lynx may be mistaken for bobcat, which would be an illegal method of “take.” A Refuge manager shared her concern about lynx being disturbed by hunting hounds in a Feb 2014 email to VT Fish & Wildlife, but they disregarded her concern. You can read our letter to Fish & Wildlife on that here. Other non-target animals include ground nesting birds, deer fawn, moose calves, and other wildlife.
The unsupervised hounds also place Refuge visitors at risk. The general public should be able to birdwatch, hike, and partake in other activities without the fear of running into a pack of frenzied hounds.
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