Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Pete the Moose redux

Vermont's governor-elect, Peter Shumlin, has made it clear he intends to right a wrong--the issues described in the longwinded tantrum I engaged in last July are about to be addressed and reversed. This makes me glad I voted for Shumlin, although I admit I did it holding my nose--I wanted Doug Racine, who tied Shumlin in the primary but lost on a recount.

The Burlington Free Press reports, "Key lawmakers and Governor-elect Peter Shumlin are ready to reverse a 2010 law drafted in secret and passed at the 11th hour that gave an Northeast Kingdom farmer ownership of wild deer and moose on his property, an action that provoked an outcry among hunters.

"A bill already in draft form restates the longstanding principle that wild animals belong to all people of Vermont. It requires the wild deer and moose trapped inside Doug Nelson’s elk hunting park to be removed, probably through hunting. It also allows for protection of young Pete the Moose, an orphaned resident of the park."

I object to this "orphaned" designation--it's false--but at least the smarmy, disagreeable behavior of Susan Bartlett has been dragged out into the open. Bartlett engineered a cheesy, behind-the-scenes deal to allow a single wealthy constituent, Doug Nelson, to claim de facto ownership of the native wildlife that were accidentally or deliberately enclosed in his fence--a fence put up so that unfair-chase hunting could bring him a bit more dough. It was junk politics at its very worst, and not how we normally do business in this state.

The real back story on this moose is that some dogs, unrestrained by leashes, injured a moose calf; the owners of these dogs then decided they would rescue the calf by appropriating him and taking him to an unlicensed rehabilitator, who then turned the animal over to Nelson. The moose wasn't orphaned--to be accurate, the cow was scared off by dogs and people, and the dogs did what dogs do when not properly restrained, and  then the people did what people sometimes do when they fail to grasp the difference between a wild animal and a domesticated one. 

I personally don't care one way or the other about "saving" Pete--he's toast no matter what. He has been petted like a dog and fed all manner of junk food, and he's been deprived the the environment he was designed to live in (or die in, as the case may be). He's gone a long way past the point of redemption. But the key doctrine--that wild animals are held in public trust and cannot be domesticated or owned by any individual--has been confirmed and reinstated.

Temper tantrum over.

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