Letters to the Editor (8/18/21) | Seven Days Vermont

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Letters to the Editor (8/18/21) 

Published August 18, 2021 at 10:00 a.m. | Updated September 14, 2021 at 6:06 p.m.

Wrong Rank

[Re "Green Mountain 'Good Old Boys,'" August 11]: The photo of Adj. Gen. Greg Knight shows him with colonel insignia, not major general. Apparently Seven Days used an old file photo without verifying that the photo must show his current two-star insignia.

Roger Crouse


Why 'Spy'?

I don't understand how in the I Spy column such disgusting and demeaning content is published. I can say that you have affected one of the women who was written about. Do you think she, as a young woman, wants to read about how some random man wants to know if she needs to be a good girl or behave? No, no, she doesn't. It's completely and utterly unacceptable that these comments were allowed to be published. And many people whom I've shown this to agree.

Something needs to be done; women for years and years have fought to be respected, and this is going in the complete wrong direction. It saddens me to even need to be giving this feedback. I'm very, very outraged. And you've affected not only this young woman who had to read that, but many readers who've seen this and are aware of what content is really published in Seven Days.

Kayla Woodman

South Royalton

Editor's note: For 26 years, Seven Days has published an I Spy section, in which readers write in to express their admiration for or interest in someone they have encountered in our community, often without knowing that person's name. The individual who has been "spied" can choose to respond to the written flirtation — or ignore it. Seven Days facilitates the communication, if it happens at all.

This practice has survived the test of time, we believe, because Vermont is just the right size: large enough that community members don't all know each other, but small enough that readers often recognize the people being described.

We screen postings for inappropriate language and encourage writers to be respectful and choose their words carefully, especially when they are spying someone on the job.

'Righteous Act'

Thank you to the person who found my wallet and cellphone on the bench down at the lake and brought it all the way to the Burlington Police Department for safekeeping! These days, it is so wonderful to call out such a righteous act. We are blessed to have good people all around us.

Jan Salzman


Earth to Vermont

Great article about the tumor-fish and "stuff" in Newport's Lake Memphremagog and the (non)confirmation bias of the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation's Rick Levey ["Beneath the Surface," July 28]. Maybe now we could also explore the dwindling insect populations and the diseased organs hunters have been finding in deer and moose since before the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department warnings were posted in the Burlington Free Press on November 2, 2008, suggesting that hunters "limit their consumption of deer livers/kidneys" because of "high levels of cadmium" that are "not unusual in the Northeastern U.S." OK, then!

Our environment seems to be collapsing around us unnoticed, and we're unconcerned.

Best quote in the article? "Newport is like a mini Burlington." Uh, no. Not at all. Keep up the great work, Seven Days!

Steve Merrill

North Troy

Trash Talk, Continued...

In response to Solveig Overby's "Trash Talk" letter to the editor [August 4] regarding the options that residents could be charged for trash removal: As I explained to the Ward 7 councilors, I am very conscientious about not purchasing packaged goods and accumulating trash. I daresay my trash-recyclables-compost system cannot be improved upon, and it costs me nothing. My blue bin goes out maybe once every six weeks, and I compost food scraps. The little trash I do accumulate — which is nothing close to a 55-gallon can per month — is disposed of by my son.

Why should someone like me be forced to take on another municipal bill? Being forced to participate in a service one does not choose doesn't sound very democratic to me. There has to be a no-participation option for everyone who so chooses.

Marianne Ward


New Housing Isn't Quaint

Reading "Nowhere to Go" [August 4] reminds me of a housing proposal that got shot down in Waterbury back when I was living just outside the village, in Moretown, in 2015. The former municipal office building on Main Street has sat vacant since being damaged in Tropical Storm Irene. In 2015, the village voted on whether to sell the property to a developer, who would demolish the vacant building and replace it with a four-story, 30-unit apartment building. Voters overwhelmingly rejected the proposal, by nearly a 2-1 margin.

It seemed that voters were concerned with the aesthetics of such a building in a historic village like Waterbury. Six years later, Vermont is in a housing crisis with not nearly enough inventory on the market. The insistence of many Vermonters to try to maintain a past that no longer exists is a major contributor to that crisis. Many Vermonters would rather have a vacant building, collecting no property tax and housing no residents, just because it fits the village aesthetic.

Cost of living was the primary reason I left Vermont and now live in Troy, N.Y. I have missed living in Vermont, and I have interviewed for multiple jobs back in Vermont since I left. But every time we discuss compensation, the salary isn't nearly enough to cover the cost of living. Vermont will continue to lose residents until it builds more housing.

Steven Dibelius

Troy, N.Y.

Spontaneous Trans-lation

Seems like every time I open Seven Days, there's some letter writer getting huffy that trans people exist [Feedback: "'Proud to Be a Thought Criminal,'" July 21; "Candidate Deserves Access," August 4; "Dear Jack Hanson," August 4]. Yes, men are men, and women are women. I agree! And trans men are men, and trans women are women, and nonbinary people are nonbinary, and another person's gender doesn't generally have any effect on my own personal life, so, in the immortal words of Regina George, "Why are you so obsessed with me?"

Harlow Carpenter


Easy Target

I guess we should have known that Kevin McCallum's first-person piece on Vermont's new indoor shooting range would put him in the sights of gun guys everywhere. The most common objection to the August 4 article, "Shots Fired," was the way McCallum described the sensation of firing an AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle. Almost everyone claims he exaggerated the power of the gun's kickback; for proof, they offered up ballistics, young gun-wielding daughters and unscathed scrota. Some read gun control into McCallum's depiction and, by association, into his piece, which combined straight business reporting on Parro's indoor gun range and his personal experience of discharging some of the firearms available for rent on the premises. Here is a sampling of the feedback, minus the anonymous, misogynist rants suggesting that McCallum be fired or "go live in Cuba, Venezuela or China."

Articles like this are difficult to read for anyone with any kind of actual subject-matter knowledge, due to the amount of gross misinformation and exaggeration.

An AR-15 is not a high-powered rifle any more than it is an assault rifle. At best, it's a mid-powered rifle. It has much more in common with the squirrel gun the author mentioned than anything "meteor"-like. I've seen 5- to 8-year-olds shoot this firearm without any negative response to it, yet the full-grown man who wrote this article acts like firing it was shocking to the system. My drill instructor put one against his ball sack, literally, and fired it to prove to smaller and female recruits that the recoil from the rifle was, in fact and indisputably, light and easy.

Articles like this are lazy, not only on the part of the reporter, but on the part of the editor and the publication, as well. Shame on you. Do better; things like this article make you look like a rag.

Michael Hassoldt

Meridian, ID

In Kevin McCallum's excellent article, the subtitle asserted that Parro's was the "first indoor gun range." Actually, the first was New England Target in Colchester, near Costco, a state-of-the-art indoor range that operated from around 1998 to 2001. It was unprofitable. I know because, in 2002, I was tasked with selling the equipment. After I found no Vermont buyers, it went to British Columbia in 2003. I think Henry Parro is better positioned to make a success of it.

Taylor Buckner

South Hero

In the article "Shots Fired," Kevin McCallum writes of the AR-15: "It felt like a meteor had struck the earth in front of me. A deep shock wave coursed through my body, the recoil rippling through my arms and right shoulder with astounding power."

Outside of the emotional response, there are statistics that bear out the actual ballistics. A typical .223 round fired from the AR-15 or its many variants has a recoil energy of 3.9 fps and a recoil velocity of 6.0 fps. The typical 9mm round fired from a handgun has a recoil energy of 6.0 fps and a recoil velocity of 16 fps. Hence, the 9mm pistol recoils more than two times the amount of the .223 rifle.

This is why the .223 fired from a rifle is a preferred caliber — because of its relatively low recoil energy and velocity. It makes it a very popular cartridge for both the experienced and the new shooter.

James Minetti


The portion of this article about the recoil when firing an "AR-15-style rifle" is either imaginary or highly misleading.

I used the M16, the predecessor to the M4, which is the military version of the AR-15, my entire 17.5-year army career. The first day of marksmanship training at Fort Benning, Ga., the instructor demonstrated the very low recoil of the rifle by firing it in the normal position by resting the stock of the rifle against his shoulder. After that, he rested the stock against his nose, and after that he fired the rifle with the stock resting on his crotch — all without any ill effect whatsoever.

I have used various models of civilian AR-15s. The recoil on all of these is similar to the M16.

The AR-15 stocks include a spring-loaded buffer, which absorbs most of the gas created in the firing chamber each time the rifle fires. This, combined with the small size of the projectile (about the same size as a .22 caliber pistol bullet), makes the recoil nearly undetectable.

If the author were firing something other than an AR-15 that had a larger cartridge and perhaps did not have a buffer spring assembly, it is possible the recoil would be as he described it. But the story would then be completely inaccurate.

This is the type of thing that destroys the credibility of the media with anyone who actually has used firearms, regardless of their position on gun laws.

Patrick Walsh

Pittsburgh, PA

I'm sorry you were so emotionally scarred from a few rounds downrange. Please remember that many of us are emotionally scarred from being on the receiving end of "rounds downrange" to secure the rights that you apparently believe we don't deserve.

There are people who risked their lives to come here. We owe it to them to preserve the opportunities they seek.

There are people who are willing to kill you to take what you have worked hard to obtain. They don't deserve the control they want.

Paul Gross


I read about your experience going to a new gun range and firing an AR-15. A few years ago, Gersh Kuntzman, who writes for the New York Daily News, wrote an article chock-full of the same overblown, melodramatic hyperbole.

You're obviously engaging in over-the-top language to describe the experience for one reason: to try to gain support to ban such firearms by painting a false picture for your readers.

The AR-15 is famous for having almost no recoil. Veterans relate how their drill instructor in boot camp would place the stock of the military M16, which fires the same round, against their nose or groin to prove to nervous recruits that firing the rifle would not harm them. Reading your description, an uneducated reader would believe it's an insanely powerful firearm, suitable only for use by highly trained experts — which I'm certain is your intent.

My nearly 17-year-old daughter has five AR-15s that she uses in competitive shooting events. She got her first when she was 9 years old and maybe 60 pounds soaking wet. She's never experienced firing an AR-15 the way you claim to have.

It should be obvious even to a layperson that the noise of firing any gun will be amplified indoors. Yet you write as if it were caused by the "power" of the firearm in question and not the environment in which it was fired!

Daniel Roberts

Clover, SC

Members of the web forum canadiangunnutz.com are enjoying a chuckle at Kevin McCallum's expense regarding comments made after his visit to a gun range recently. McCallum said, "It felt like a meteor had struck the earth in front of me. A deep shock wave coursed through my body, the recoil rippling through my arms and right shoulder with astounding power. Being that close to an explosion of such magnitude — controlled and focused as it was — rattled me." All this from the .223 round that was derided in Vietnam for its small size.

Dean Roxby

Langley, BC 

Moose Murder?

"Shouldn't your Animal Issue focus on feel-good stories about animals, including ways we can help them?" asks letter writer Shelah Vogel of Newport Center. She's one of almost a dozen readers who criticized our coverage of Vermont's expanded fall moose hunt and the state department proposing it. Anne Wallace Allen's news story "Thinning the Herd" explains in gruesome detail how winter ticks often weaken and kill the animals before spring. The solution, for the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department, is to cull the population preemptively. Yes, we think Vermont animal lovers are interested in that story and that it was necessary for Allen to get the viewpoints of Fish & Wildlife staffers in Vermont and others in neighboring states. Allen also reached out to Protect Our Wildlife Vermont and Canaan resident Dan Johnson for their views.

Why would Seven Days use its annual Animal Issue to justify Vermont's moose hunt? Have you forgotten that most of your readers are animal lovers?

This issue should focus on animals, including wildlife, and how to better protect them, not justify a highly controversial moose hunt. I wish the reporter had reached out to wildlife protection groups and Vermont citizens. Instead, she interviewed a Maine moose hunter who provided anecdotal commentary and shared how he wants to hunt more moose.

The article relied too heavily on Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department game biologists who are in the business of providing a "product" — moose — to their customers — hunters. Fish & Wildlife staffers should assert their biases from the start, including their steadfast allegiance to hunters — after all, their entire board, including Commissioner Louis Porter, is made up of trappers and hunters. They know that if they halt the moose hunt, it will be harder to continue it in the future. That is not science. This is wildlife "management" policy rooted in pandering to special interests. They'll find any excuse to justify a moose hunt.

Lastly, the reporter did not address the many other mortality factors facing moose, including heat stress and brain worm. The article narrowly focused on winter ticks, but winter ticks are only one threat, and they aren't going away. Killing ticks by killing our moose is a crude way of justifying hunting our iconic moose. Social distancing of wild animals? Really? There must and should be a humane solution.

Jane Fitzwilliam


Seven Days missed a timely opportunity to write about wildlife in its annual Animal Issue. There's been a wildlife revolution here in Vermont with new wildlife protection groups arising out of a need to address current wildlife policies that many view as cruel and antiquated, including the hounding of bears and coyotes and the use of leghold traps. But you chose to write about the moose hunt?

The article was clearly influenced by Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department "game" biologists, who are fierce proponents of moose hunting at all costs. I was also surprised to read so much anecdotal, fearmongering information, including a moose hunter from Maine who wants to hunt more moose because he sees moose in the field he claims are dying in high numbers. Why not interview people like me who live here in the Northeast Kingdom? I've seen plenty of moose that don't appear to be suffering from ticks.

Also, did you know that Fish & Wildlife received close to $121,000 from the exotic trophy hunting organization Safari Club International to fund its moose "study"? A moose hunt won't kill off the moose herd, but it certainly won't save moose from ticks!

Fish & Wildlife knows that continuing the moose hunt is important from a political perspective. If anyone believes the moose hunt is truly about killing winter ticks, please look a little deeper.

Lark Shields


I'd like to acknowledge Seven Days for writing a relatively good article about the tick issue facing our moose that really shows the value of the biological work being done on behalf of them.

My only criticism of the article is the inclusion of folks who oppose the hunt despite the science. It's unfortunate that these anti-hunting extremists willingly ignore the hard work of the scientific community because they disapprove of the facts. When they don't understand the distinction between the number of ticks found on a one-square-inch sample patch of skin and the number found on the entire moose, we really need to question how they feel better suited to making decisions about wildlife than this multiagency who's who of biologists.

Jason Knapp


I am disappointed that biased information from the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department has been used to justify a moose hunt. Though its website claims to base its decisions "on science, but also with public input of people's concerns about moose," the public comment process for the moose hunting proposal clearly shows otherwise.

The department claims that the "public generally supports the proposal"; however, according to public records, the comment process resulted in 85 percent of the public in opposition. Further, the department stated that opposition came from people who were "opposed to moose hunting generally." Fish & Wildlife seems to value certain opinions — those of hunters — more than others and cannot be trusted to represent the general public. Additionally, knowing that moose hunting brings a lot of money into Fish & Wildlife, it is not hard to see how the department can be influenced to prioritize money and special interests over moose lives.

When making policy decisions, Fish & Wildlife should practice basic scientific integrity principles by clearly stating its biases and value judgments up front. The department endorses moose hunting, so it went into its "research" with a predetermined goal: to have a moose hunt. Fish & Wildlife has also misrepresented the public's opinion on its plan to justify its actions. The Earth is now facing its sixth mass extinction, and we need to be thinking of new ways to handle threats to wildlife other than killing them. The moose-hunting plan is completely unacceptable from a wildlife management perspective; we can do better.

Katie Kraczkowsky


The last thing I wanted to read about in your Animal Issue is more political pandering passed off as science by the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department justifying the moose hunt. Shouldn't your Animal Issue focus on feel-good stories about animals, including ways we can help them? Wildlife are some of the most abused animals in Vermont, with few protections. There was an opportunity to address ways the public can help, whether by supporting Vermont's volunteer wildlife rehabbers or getting involved to pass better laws like banning leghold traps. To use the prime real estate in your Animal Issue to justify a moose hunt is a shame.

Did Fish & Wildlife tell the reporter that it received $120,800 from the exotic trophy organization Safari Club International to fund its moose research? Of course the results of its research justified a moose hunt. That's what they wanted all along! Fish & Wildlife game biologists across the nation are not in the business of doing right by the wildlife; they are in the business of making hunters happy, including trophy moose hunters who spend a lot of money to get a permit. Seven Days failed the moose with this piece.

Shelah Vogel

Newport Center

As someone who carefully monitored Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department's public comment process on the moose hunt, I have many concerns over how it was handled. The department misrepresented public comments that actually revealed a large majority of Vermonters opposed the hunt. Why have a public comment process to gather feedback if it's going to be misrepresented and ignored?

Additionally, its recommendation to kill moose to kill ticks to improve the health of the herd is simply a theory. What happens if it's wrong about hunting moose to kill ticks? Will the public ever know if the theory failed, or will it be wrapped up in more obfuscation? In the future, it'd be helpful if Fish & Wildlife would make its inherent value judgments and biases clear from the start. It fiercely promotes moose hunting — it's a big moneymaker for the department — so it is not going into the research free of bias. Fish & Wildlife is a hammer, and everything is a nail, so its recommendation for a limited moose hunt should be critically viewed by the public.

Killing 70 or so moose over tens of thousands of acres in the Northeast Kingdom won't decimate the moose herd, but it certainly won't save moose from ticks! Let's put our money into addressing the tick issue without killing moose, like the University of Vermont's tick-killing fungus research. However, I doubt the exotic trophy-hunting organization Safari Club International, which donated $120,800 to Fish & Wildlife's moose "study" that resulted in a moose hunt, would have approved of that.

Patricia Monteferrante


Monteferrante is a board member of Protect Our Wildlife Vermont.

When I picked up your recent Animal Issue edition, I was hoping to read something positive about wildlife protection. I expected discussion of a new strategy for Vermont's wildlife management that would be based on real science and proactive conservation initiatives. Several beneficial wildlife protection bills introduced in January clearly indicate a shift in the public concern for wildlife protection. The climate crisis, habitat loss and human encroachment are resulting in growing threats to Vermont's wildlife and global biodiversity (aka the sixth extinction). It's past time for a reevaluation of the roles wildlife play in the environment and our responsibilities toward these vulnerable species.

Your recent article about the moose hunt was an example of extremely bad and biased journalism. The article overlooked many key facts: Moose die from brain worm, heat stress and habitat loss; Safari Club International, the notorious elephant and lion trophy-hunting group, donated six figures to the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department's moose "study"; and Vermonters overwhelmingly opposed the moose hunt (revealed during the public comment process that Fish & Wildlife ignored).

No valid studies on moose support a hunt, and many reasons exist to deny one. What if Fish & Wildlife's theory about killing moose to kill ticks doesn't prove effective? Why isn't it addressing the tick issue nonlethally? The real concern that inbreeding may lead to less resistance to winter ticks conflicts with the Fish & Wildlife plan for increased hunting. Clearly, much more research is necessary to determine better protections for Vermont's declining moose herd.

Jennifer Lovett


Initially, I had a glimmer of hope that this article would drill down and actually lay out the complexity of this tragic problem of Vermont's moose and winter ticks. But, alas, we got the standard Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department solution: Kill the moose.

First of all, you cannot kill your way out of a problem. Yes, these ticks prefer moose, but eliminating the moose doesn't make the ticks go away. Let's face facts here: Some people really like to hunt. And this provides a perfect excuse.

For one thing, how can you guarantee that a hunter is taking an infested moose and not a healthy one? If you kill off enough moose to establish a healthy population, they are, perhaps, less likely to be infested, but can you guarantee that doesn't promote inbreeding, which could also make moose susceptible to ticks?

The article reported that it's not feasible to study moose in the wild, because Fish & Wildlife personnel would have to track them over large distances. Well, isn't that their job? They're perfectly happy to study dead moose brought in by somebody else — but they can't get out there themselves to study them in situ?

The article also failed to address the fact that this is not simply a moose problem. It is part of the web of issues caused by humans infesting every corner of the planet, destroying crucial habitat for countless other species and the climate, which is crucial to supporting that habitat.

Time to get real.

Lisa Jablow


"Longtime Maine hunting guide Hal Blood said the states should be killing more moose to suppress the ticks. He's gone into the woods to look for shed antlers and seen 15 to 20 dead moose in a day, he said."

First off, why are you quoting someone from Maine regarding Vermont moose? Secondly, why would you take a quote from a person whose livelihood and income is based on hunting moose? And thirdly, why would you quote an anecdotal and obviously exaggerated claim of seeing 15 to 20 dead moose? Really? Maybe it's five to 10 or three to eight?

The problem, time and again, with the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department is that it is not independent. Its stated goal is to allow more hunting opportunities. This outcome to hunt more moose to save more moose is not scientific. It is economic. I don't know why the department just can't be honest with the public. We can handle the truth.

Dan Galdenzi


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