NRA Applauds Defeat of Vermont Bill That Would Stack Fish and Wildlife Board Against Hunting

posted on June 12, 2024
Mainflag Of Vermont

Vermont hunters breathed a little easier recently when Vt. Senate Bill 258 was defeated. If passed into law, the bill would have subverted the authority of the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Board and created avenues to pack the board with non-hunters and anti-hunters, which, as reported by, would have diluted the power of science-based wildlife managers and sportsmen, part of the system of managing our natural resources as part of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation.

There still is a possibility the measure could come back during the June “veto session,” but, according to reports from the Congressional Sportsman’s Caucus, the chances are slim.

The bill, introduced in January, “demanded ‘balanced viewpoints’ and would have opened seats on the Vermont Board for anti-hunting extremists,” reported the NRA Hunters’ Leadership Forum website. The mandate would have subverted the board’s authority over fish and wildlife management.

As currently constituted, the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Board approves and denies regulations regarding fishing, hunting and trapping. It is made up of 14 residents appointed by the governor who hunt and trap and fish. Under S.B. 258, the board would have been stripped of its rulemaking authority and made an “advisory board” within the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department led by—you guessed it—a director appointed by the governor. Thereafter the board could object to proposed regulations but final authority would rest with the department. The bill also would have added two new seats to the board, one appointed by the Vermont House and the other by the Senate.

Many in the state viewed the movement behind S.B. 258 as part of a broader attack on hunting.

Some members of the state’s Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Energy have eyed this angle for years, according to reports by sources like VTDigger. They have complained the board has authority over all Vermont wildlife but that only about 10 percent of the state’s population actually hunts (a greater relative percentage than America overall, by the way). Non-hunters, they say, are not represented on the board. This bill would have fixed that, in their minds.

In fact that was just the problem with the bill, according to many Vermont citizens who enjoy traditional outdoor pursuits. “If this bill passes, this is the end of hunting as we know it in the state of Vermont,” Sen. Russ Ingalls, a Republican, told his fellow lawmakers on the Senate floor in March.

Instead, as reported by the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation (CSF) in their “Sportsmen’s Voice” podcast May 13, this was a big victory for hunting in Vermont.

“The NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) and particularly its Vermont affiliate—the Vermont Federation of Sportsman's Clubs (VTFSC)—played a pivotal role in this legislative success,” reported “By collaborating with conservation partners across the spectrum, NRA-ILA and VTFSC ensured that the bill received the necessary opposition from lawmakers and the public. This is yet another example of the importance of hunters’ advocacy and grassroots involvement in shaping policies that affect our natural wildlife resources, from whitetail deer—the state’s most popular game species—to small game, upland birds, waterfowl—and the many non-game species living across Vermont’s habitats.”


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