Victory in Vermont: NRA Applauds Defeat of Bill Aiming to Put Anti-Hunters on Fish and Wildlife Board

Victory in Vermont: NRA Applauds Defeat of Bill Aiming to Put Anti-Hunters on Fish and Wildlife Board

Above: Vermont hunters continue to push for policies that aid species from whitetail deer—the state’s most popular game animal—to small game, upland birds, waterfowl and the many non-game species that benefit from hunters’ dollars.

As followers of the Hunters’ Leadership Forum website know well, a core tenet of the NRA’s mission is to protect and promote wildlife conservation through science-based wildlife management based on the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation (NAMWC). NRA and conservation partners such as the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation saw some success on that front last week, with the defeat of Senate Bill 258, which sought to pack the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Board with possible anti-hunting activists and dilute the power of science-based wildlife managers and sportsmen in the stewardship of our natural resources.

As reported by the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation (CSF) in their “Sportsmen’s Voice” podcast last week, this was a big victory for hunter-conservationists in Vermont as the state’s General Assembly defeated a bill previously passed in the state’s senate that sought to pack the state’s Fish and Wildlife Board with anti-hunting activists. This decision was a crucial victory in ensuring that wildlife management decisions are rooted in empirical evidence rather than political or ideological influences.

Introduced in January, S.B. 258 demanded “balanced viewpoints” and would have opened seats on the Vermont Board for anti-hunting extremists. It also included a ban on coyote hunting with bait or dogs that was previously defeated as standalone legislation in a prior session.

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. 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.

As shared by NRA-ILA, the VTFSC, led by President Chris Bradley, specifically worked to educate legislators on the importance of science-based wildlife management and mobilize local sportsmen and women to voice their opposition. Such efforts shed light on the strong community backing of sustainable wildlife management practices and the effectiveness of local advocacy in influencing state legislation.

An official VTFSC announcement following the defeat of S.B. 258 noted the importance of engaging hunter-conservationists. It underscored the success of the VTFSC’s annual legislative mixer in March, which allows sportsmen and women to meet personally with their senators and representatives to share their views, and an April press conference that sounded home the reasons the bill had to be defeated.

About the Author
Cody McLaughlin is an outdoor writer, conservationist and hunting advocate based in Alaska. He recently launched Trout Stream Studios as an executive producer for podcasts and livestreams in the hunting and veterans’ affairs spaces, including for the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation’s “The Sportsmen’s Voice”podcast mentioned in this article. He currently serves on the board of the Alaska Outdoor Council, the Last Frontier’s state NRA affiliate, and is a former board member and lead spokesman of the New Jersey Outdoor Alliance.