To the Editor:

Accepting without questioning the hunting culture is to deny those of us with a distaste for this "tradition" a say in the care of the creatures we choose to live among. The Fish and Wildlife Department exists to preserve our wildlife while at the same time allows for hunters to "manage" it. Because of human encroachment, pollution and hunting our wild animals have become ghettoized. Shrunken habitats, narrowed corridors and limited food supplies have made it easy pickings for those who think hunting is a sport. It has recently been reported that 50% of the world's species have become extinct. Must we wait for the silence before enacting sensible and humane policies to maintain and control our animal populations?

There is no accurate way to determine the black bear population. Due to their mainly solitary existence, any estimates of such are just that-estimates. And the numbers are grossly exaggerated in order to sell more hunting permits. The number of 6,000 reported, if true, is still pitifully small. And since it isn't illegal to kill mothers and her cubs, the black bear population is being decimated. What kind of depraved soul can look at a bear cub, trembling and clinging to the instinctual safety of a tree, and blast that little life into a commodity of parts? What kind of society risks its dogs to defensive attacks by the bears they are chasing up trees? Why is a second bear hunting season permitted after the bears have gone into hibernation? Is it not ghoulish to shoot into a den at mothers, cubs and those females who will give birth in January and February? With a human population of over one billion, does China really need the medically debunked powder from black bear gallbladders for an aphrodisiac?

How can those in charge of guarding our wildlife allow the killing of orphaned animals "for their own good?" Why is so little done about people hunting out of season or poaching at night? Why must the department continue to promote this wholesale slaughter before those who view these living, breathing, sentient beings as nothing more than targets, trophies and money in their blood-stained pockets? Must people "bond" with their friends and family through the stalking and killing of innocent creatures? Wouldn't animal preserves bring more tourist money into Vermont than hunting related activities? Wouldn't more out-of-state friends and family come visit us during the holidays without the gunfire and dead animals piled up in the back of pick-ups? The Fish and Wildlife Board should be comprised of those with the intelligence, compassion and understanding of the importance of balancing our wildlife population with an increasingly fragile ecosystem. A board that favors the living things over those who wish to destroy them.

Jessica Miller

Cabot, Vt.


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