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Vermont Wildlife Commissioner: Landowner Shouldn't Be Allowed to Sell Native Animal Hunts

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February 09, 2011

Vermont Wildlife Commissioner: Landowner Shouldn't Be Allowed to Sell Native Animal Hunts

By David Maccar

Bringing the fenced-hunt debate to the northeast, a Vermont businessman keeps a herd of imported elk, as well native animals, enclosed behind seven miles of fencing on his land. According to this story in the Burlington Free Press, Doug Nelson charges hunters as much as $12,500 to shoot an elk. The state’s Fish and Wildlife Commissioner, Patrick Berry, calls Nelson’s property a “captive kill facility” and says “wildlife is held in public trust for all Vermonters.”

Nelson says he doesn’t believe the public has any claim to the wild, native whitetail deer and moose within his fence.

...A list of witnesses debated that point before the House Fish and Wildlife Committee as it considered the “Pete the Moose Bill,” named for a semi-tame moose that lives behind the fence. Pete’s fate has become a cause celebre among animal activists. But Pete was pushed to the sidelines in Tuesday’s testimony, as the committee considered broader issues and was treated to two starkly different pictures of Big Rack Ridge.

That’s the property where Doug Nelson keeps a herd of imported elk, as well as the native animals including Pete. He sells hunters the privilege to shoot the elk for as much as $12,500 an animal.

Fish and Wildlife Commissioner Patrick Berry told the committee that Big Rack Ridge is a “captive kill facility.” He said the Legislature made a “terrible mistake” last year when it decided to remove his department’s authority to regulate the operation and to allow Nelson to sell hunts for the native deer and moose.

“Wildlife is held in public trust for all Vermonters,” Berry said. “There was a terrible mistake made last year in granting ownership of native wildlife to a private individual.”

Pete, he said, is a “moose illegally taken from the wild.”

But Nelson described his operation as a “game park” and tourist attraction and told the committee he has spent as much as $100,000 a year feeding all his animals, including the natives. He said Big Rack Ridge is not just for hunting, but has the potential to become the second-largest tourist destination in the Northeast Kingdom after the Jay Peak ski area.

Nelson described Pete as a “lost soul” given refuge at the game park after being abandoned by his mother. He said he had failed to comply with past state regulations to remove all the native deer and moose because that meant seeing them killed. Although he himself plans to sell hunters the privilege to shoot the whitetails, he said he would continue to resist efforts to remove them by state-ordered killing.

Your thoughts?

Comments (6)

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from DSMbirddog wrote 3 years 10 weeks ago

I would say, no hunting for deer or moose behind that fence. If he wants to sell elk hunts so be it. Apparently VT does not allow fenced hunts?

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from Zullym1 wrote 3 years 10 weeks ago

I know an occasional hunter from California who moved East and went hunting in Vermont. He soon gave up because even in the "wilderness" it felt like target shooting to him. I don't believe there should be private shooting ranges. Wild animals belong in the wilderness. Let Pete go, but why euthanize him? He's healed now, just move him into the wilderness and let nature take its course. The previous legislation was misguided, but don't throw out the baby with the bathwater.

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from Walt Smith wrote 3 years 10 weeks ago

Sounds like this guy thinks he's above the law! Hopefully the state will grow some nuts and show him he's not, maybe even make an example out of him. At least the commissioner acknowledges the facility isn't worthy of using the word "hunting" for describing it!

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from shane wrote 3 years 9 weeks ago

I'm surprised any Vermonters stand for this, hunters or yuppies. I don't see it lasting long.

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from Paul Wilke wrote 3 years 9 weeks ago

Just another rectum squeegee. Put him behind bars. The wildlife should be removed, trapped and released at owners expense, then he can replace them with purchased deer and continue. Charge him with kidnapping wildlife.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from JohnR wrote 3 years 9 weeks ago

Therein lies the rub with fenced hunting. Native animals get caught within the fence and all of a sudden the landowner thinks they're his!

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from DSMbirddog wrote 3 years 10 weeks ago

I would say, no hunting for deer or moose behind that fence. If he wants to sell elk hunts so be it. Apparently VT does not allow fenced hunts?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Walt Smith wrote 3 years 10 weeks ago

Sounds like this guy thinks he's above the law! Hopefully the state will grow some nuts and show him he's not, maybe even make an example out of him. At least the commissioner acknowledges the facility isn't worthy of using the word "hunting" for describing it!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from shane wrote 3 years 9 weeks ago

I'm surprised any Vermonters stand for this, hunters or yuppies. I don't see it lasting long.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Paul Wilke wrote 3 years 9 weeks ago

Just another rectum squeegee. Put him behind bars. The wildlife should be removed, trapped and released at owners expense, then he can replace them with purchased deer and continue. Charge him with kidnapping wildlife.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Zullym1 wrote 3 years 10 weeks ago

I know an occasional hunter from California who moved East and went hunting in Vermont. He soon gave up because even in the "wilderness" it felt like target shooting to him. I don't believe there should be private shooting ranges. Wild animals belong in the wilderness. Let Pete go, but why euthanize him? He's healed now, just move him into the wilderness and let nature take its course. The previous legislation was misguided, but don't throw out the baby with the bathwater.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from JohnR wrote 3 years 9 weeks ago

Therein lies the rub with fenced hunting. Native animals get caught within the fence and all of a sudden the landowner thinks they're his!

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

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