‘A Real Stain:’ Vt. Animal Advocate Decries Display of Dead Coyotes

Disclaimer: Some viewers may find the above video disturbing.

An unusual sight this weekend caught drivers' attention and turned some stomachs in Vermont's rural Essex County.

Two dead coyotes, both of them young, were strung up high by their hind legs in front of a home on a main road.

The individuals who brought the situation to the attention of necn did not want to be interviewed for this story, citing concerns over potential disputes with neighbors in their small Northeast Kingdom community.

However, Brenna Galdenzi of the group Protect our Wildlife saw images of the display and told necn she was outraged by what she saw.

"I don't really think there's any other way to look at those photos than to be completely appalled," Galdenzi said Monday.

It's legal to hunt coyotes year-round in Vermont, and because it appears the homeowner did not break any state laws with this display, necn has chosen to not name him.

Even if no crime was committed, Galdenzi still thinks the move sends a bad message.

"You're going to upset children, you're going to upset tourists who might be here visiting to go birdwatching at a nearby national wildlife refuge," Galdenzi said. "It's just a real stain on our state, in general."

The often-polarizing animals have been at the center of a passionate debate in Vermont, where the Fish and Wildlife Board recently denied a petition to restrict coyote hunting.

Supporters of a limited hunt had argued the animals play an important role in the ecosystem.

"Reserving this time for breeding is beneficial to healthy coyote populations," Cydnee Bence said in June at a meeting of the Fish and Wildlife board, speaking in favor of a closed coyote hunt.

Opponents to a closed hunt testified they wanted to see traditional outdoor activities stay untouched, and pointed out that coyote numbers are not at risk.

"The question before you is a simple matter of one social group attempting to restrict another based on their personal ideology," Mike Covey of the Vermont Traditions Coalition said at the June hearing, criticizing the petition campaign.

Col. Jason Batchelder, the head of wildlife law enforcement for the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department, spoke to necn Monday about that display of dead coyotes in the Northeast Kingdom.

While Batchelder said it appears to be a private property issue where wardens likely can't do much, he said he has encouraged the property owner to remove the dead coyotes — with a goal of keeping the peace and reducing the number of people potentially upset by the sight.

Batchelder noted he was not aware of the backstory of what led up to the coyote display, but has asked his wardens to reach out to the homeowner to start a dialogue.

"I would ask them to think about other people and how other people might perceive their activities," Batchelder said of the homeowner, nothing that similar displays have been reported before around the state, though rarely. "It might be offensive to some, it might not be offensive to others, and as much as I said that hunters should consider other people's feelings, I think people who don't hunt should consider hunters, as well."

Galdenzi said this situation illustrates her group's push in the Vermont Legislature for new rules banning certain hunting practices — which she explained are aimed at preventing the killing of wildlife without a useful reason, such as for food.

Watchers of the Vermont State House can expect outdoors groups to likely oppose parts of any legislation — or even the entirety of such proposals — that would institute new hunting limits.

Lawmakers return to the Vermont State House in Montpelier in January.

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