Committee needs more time on deer regulations

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(Host) The Legislature’s Administrative Rules Committee has decided to take more time before it weighs in on the controversy surrounding new deer hunting regulations.

The Fish and Wildlife Board wants the committee to consider the regulations before the board votes to implement them.

VPR’s Steve Zind reports:

(Zind) The regulations proposed by the Fish and Wildlife Board are controversial for what it contains and what they don’t contain. They would limit hunters to one buck per year – something the Fish and Wildlife Department strongly opposes. They would not impose a ban on the killing of young spike horn bucks – a ban that many hunters support.

The Administrative Rules Committee can only consider the regulations on the basis of three questions.

-Are they contrary to what the Legislature intended when it gave the board the responsibility of managing the deer herd?
-Does the board’s rule exceed the scope of the its authority?
-Or is the rule arbitrary?

Fish and Wildlife Board Chairman, Rob Borowski, is among the board’s minority members. He opposes the new regulations.

Borowski told the committee that the rule is contrary to legislative intent because the board is instructed to make decisions using information provided by Fish and Wildlife Department biologists. Borowski related a discussion he had with one of his board members.

(Borowski) “I asked, ‘where did you get your information?’
‘From the internet. I got an article from Kentucky.’
And that’s what’s being used. It’s not from our department as indicated by statute.”

(Zind) Borowski says while the board shouldn’t rubber-stamp the department’s recommendations, it should give greater consideration to what state biologists have to say. The board is an independent body made up of 14 volunteer members.

Representative, Steve Adams, of Hartland heads the House Committee on Fish, Wildlife and Water Resources. Adams told the rules committee he’s concerned that lost license sales under the one buck rule will further hurt the cash-strapped Fish and Wildlife Department. Adams said the board’s actions weren’t contrary legislative intent because the legislature never told the board to weigh economic concerns in making its decisions.

(Adams) “But I will say that I think that we in the legislature did not intend for any proposed rules to have negative economic impacts for the Fish and Wildlife Department and I think that you must take that into consideration.”

(Zind) The rules committee voted to ask the legislature’s Joint Fiscal Office to review the economic impact of the proposed regulations before it makes a decision. Committee members also said they want to hear from the majority members of the Fish and Wildlife board who support the new rules. None were present at Thursday morning’s meeting.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Steve Zind.

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