John Aberth: Wildlife is a precious public resource. Why do we waste it?

This comment is from John Aberth, a licensed volunteer wildlife rehabilitator who rehabilitates beavers, raptors and other animals at Flint Brook Wildlife Rescue in Roxbury.

Lately, the news has been abuzz with stories of beavers hailed as the new “climate change engineers” and “climate solution heroes” for their ability to create drought-resistant aquifers and reservoirs and green firebreaks even in the midst of devastating forest fires.

In western states such as California, Nevada, and Utah, beavers are being deliberately introduced into areas, including rangelands and rangelands, through a program of building “starter” or beaver dam “analog” dams, to encourage beavers to stay. and do your precious work, all for free.

Meanwhile, here in Vermont, a supposedly environmentally progressive state, we’re killing more than 1,000 beavers a year, on average (although the hunters’ report is inconsistent), all to satisfy the recreational tastes of the community. hunters place , comprising only 0.1 percent of Vermont’s total population.

This does not include the 500 to 600 “nuisance” beavers trapped by Vermont cities to supposedly protect highway culverts and an unknown number of other “nuisance” beavers trapped by private owners. This means that more than 1,000 potential aquifers and wetlands are lost in the state each year.

If you think Vermont can afford to lose these natural wetlands because wildfires and droughts rarely occur here, you are dead wrong. To date, this current year, 2022, has been the driest in Vermont’s recorded history for the past 128 years. Climate change will only worsen this trend.

We need our beavers alive, working in the landscape to create barriers against climate change, not killed by hunters who skin them for fur that no one wants anymore or for the sake of “tradition.”

The same could be said for almost all other fur-bearing animals that are currently targeted by hunters: bobcats, coyotes, foxes, mink, fishermen, etc., all prey on mice as one of their main food sources and, therefore, they are our first line of defense against Lyme disease. — which has its second-highest incidence here in Vermont — by helping to break the chain of infection in which ticks become infected by feeding on Borrelia burgdorferi-infested mice.

It is a well-established principle that the public good takes precedence over the private wishes of a few individuals. Title 10 VSA 4081 of the Vermont statutes states that the Department of Fish and Wildlife shall manage the state’s wildlife “in the interest of the public welfare.”

Today, however, the trapping lobby has a stranglehold on Vermont’s wildlife policy: all current members of the Board of Fish and Wildlife, for example, are hunters, fishermen, and/or trappers, with no opportunity to Let other voices be heard.

So it’s up to the public to push the Legislature to enact laws that benefit both wildlife and humans, like a state take ban.

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Tags: beavers, climate change, Department of Fish and Wildlife, john’s sacrifice, capture

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