Letters to the Editor (8/10/22) | Letters to the Editor | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Letters to the Editor (8/10/22) 

Published August 10, 2022 at 10:00 a.m.

Best Drawings

Funny, I didn't see a category for "best imaginative, quasi-political, excellently executed drawings for a special edition of the Seven Daysies." Had I seen such a category, and were I prescient, I would have voted for illustrator Jeff Drew.

I might compare his drawings for All the Best last week to the works of Hieronymus Bosch, the late 15th-century Dutch painter. Intricate, creative, hallucinatory yet not terrifying. Quite the opposite of terrifying.

Thanks, Seven Days and Jeff Drew. You have my vote.

Angie Chapple-Sokol


Wrong Message

My emotions shifted immediately from excitement to disgust as I opened the Seven Daysies section of this week's Seven Days [All the Best, August 3] and was confronted with the full-page "Elite Fat Reduction" advertisement. Even before I could peruse the community awards, I felt a message loud and clear: I and others have to be thin or should be able to pay and want to pay top dollar for the "elite," "innovative, non-invasive way to ... freez[e] unwanted fat away" in order to be welcome and fit in. This is not sending the message of inclusivity I would hope Seven Days would want to send.

I understand the pandemic has been difficult and advertising money is important. I only ask that you think about the impact these ads have on your readers before placing them, especially in such a prominent place as this.

Michelle Downing


Editor's note: Seven Days accepts advertising for legal goods and services without censorship or discrimination. That should not be confused with a product endorsement. Bare Medical Spa + Laser Center is a local business, without which the annual Daysies competition would not exist. If you don't like what it sells, don't buy it!

Breakfast Town

[Re All the Best, August 3]: Congratulations to Myer's Bagels for its Daysies award for best breakfast sandwich; in a city blessed with a wealth of options, it is an honorable title. IMHO, Myer's makes the best bagel in the world: the rosemary sea salt.

However, my breakfast sandwich vote went to finalist the Café HOT. And I do believe if there had been a category for "friendliest establishment to open its doors during a world pandemic while doing justice to the memory of the landmark institution that had exited the building and serving up the most innovative breakfast selections, including a riff on a Chinese version of a breakfast sandwich," well, HOT. would have won hands down.

Go on and try it, if you haven't. Most likely, co-owner Travis Walker-Hodkin will greet you at the door and remember your name by your second visit. If you're lucky enough to have his brother, co-owner Allan Walker-Hodkin, wax poetic about his newest experiment from his doughnut laboratory kitchen, you might leave in a food swoon, contemplating a dough soaked in rosemary syrup, baked and then rolled in chipotle sugar. I sure did. In a world where I never met a doughnut I didn't like, it was pure perfection.

So, maybe next year. But, in the meantime, Café HOT., please keep working your magic.

Francesca Mihok


'Flowers for Hopeful Signs'

[Re "Congressional Countdown," July 13]: Political signs reaching up to 30 inches high on Vermont town, city and state property are ubiquitous every two years, for months at a time. If we must put up with these eyesore advertisements, these miniature ads that escape Vermont's billboard ban should at least provide some payback, or pay forward, to the communities in which they are planted.

A viable return to the community could be a donation of native perennial flowers to be planted in place of the political signs after Election Day.

What say you, candidates supporting Vermont ideals? Will you plant a legacy of your candidacy in exchange for rent-free advertising space? Flowers for hopeful signs get my vote.

Bernie Paquette


'PRCs Are a Refuge'

I greatly appreciate the attempt to write a balanced, unbiased article regarding Vermont's pregnancy resource centers ["Considering Abortion?" July 27]. I truly respect Seven Days and the great lengths it goes to educate Vermonters. The article, however, omitted the purpose and mission of PRCs.

PRCs exist for three reasons: to confirm her pregnancy, to equip and empower a woman to make her best-informed decision, and to support her after her choice.

First, we confirm pregnancy by ultrasound. Ultrasound services are provided by medically credentialed professionals and under the direction and supervision of a licensed physician.

Second, we provide her with what she needs to make an informed decision. All medical information in our materials is provided under the direction of a medical professional and is fully cited in the materials we provide.

If she chooses abortion, we invite her back if/when she experiences grief and loss or regrets her decision. PRCs are a refuge for women and men who struggle after their abortion. If she chooses adoption, we offer referrals to agencies to develop an adoption plan.

When parenting is her choice, we provide prenatal health classes, parenting classes, diapers, vitamins, baby clothing, strollers, furniture and other materials. We also provide referrals for maternity housing, food security, continued education, job training and much more. All PRC services are free.

We are in 21st-century America. Every woman can have her dreams, achieve all her goals and have her baby, too.

Cindy Tabor


Tabor is executive director of Care Net Pregnancy Center of Central Vermont.

Bear Essentials

Many readers responded to our July 25 story "Vermont Woman Accused of Using Bear Spray on Hunters," about an incident in which a Groton woman allegedly sprayed Butch Spear, the former president of the Vermont Bearhound Association, and his hunting buddies as they were driving a pickup truck full of hounds near Groton State Forest. For more background about the animal defenders trying to change hunting and trapping traditions in Vermont, read Kevin McCallum’s September 29, 2021, cover story, "Wildlife Wars."

'We Must Ban Hounding'

Without any knowledge of the Groton incident, I contacted the commissioner of the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department on July 15 and shared Protect Our Wildlife's concern regarding increased tensions between landowners and hounders. My July email was sent as a result of a July altercation between a bear hounder and a landowner in Orange County. The landowner was frustrated by bear hounds barking on their posted property in the morning hours and confronted the hounder in the road. We cautioned the commissioner that altercations like this will continue because landowners are tired of feeling helpless against bear, coyote and raccoon hounds on private property. We had no idea that, around the same time, the Groton confrontation had happened.

Butch Spear, one of the bear hounders who was allegedly sprayed with bear spray by the frustrated landowner in Groton, has caused problems with landowners in the past. He believes it's his right to allow his hounds to chase bears. He told us that his hounds "go where the bear goes," even if that means into roads and onto your private posted property. We don't condone the woman using bear spray, unless she was protecting herself.

We encourage people to always act lawfully and never resort to violence. First, contact a warden (even though they likely won't do anything), and then contact us. We'll guide you through the process of how to address the issue legally and safely!

We must ban hounding, for the wildlife and for Vermont's taxpaying landowners!

Brenna Galdenzi


Galdenzi is president of Protect Our Wildlife Vermont.

Bears Belong

The Vermont Coyote Coexistence Coalition was invited by the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department to participate in a working group to discuss how to regulate coyote hounding, although we want it banned outright. As a result of the 2022 legislative session, Fish & Wildlife is required to better define what "control of dogs" means with regard to coyote hounding. Currently, for bear hounding, regulation says "control of dogs" simply means that hounds wear GPS collars! That's not control.

Hounds that are pursuing bears, coyotes and other wildlife cover large tracts of land and often end up in roads and on posted property. Not only is hounding exceptionally cruel, it is causing conflicts with landowners. This problem won't go away until Fish & Wildlife takes responsibility and enacts sensible regulations or bans the activity outright. Landowner conflicts will continue because the public is fed up with hounders like Butch Spear who have zero regard for private property rights.

We'd also like to correct a few things in the article. Bear hounding does not keep bears wary of people. That's an excuse hounders use to garner support for their recreational activity. Hounders often chase wildlife in the woods, like the Groton State Forest, where we want bears! The hounds chase the bears from the woods and into roads and private property, causing conflicts.

There are so many reasons to ban hounding. We urge Fish & Wildlife to stop allowing privileged special interests to dictate wildlife policy.

Jane Fitzwilliam


'Cruel Activity'

It is incomprehensible that hounding is legal. This nightmarish activity offends on so many levels: cruelty to wildlife, the treatment of hounds, attack on domestic animals, private property and landowner rights, the outrageous behavior and entitlement of the hounders themselves, and public safety.

Hounding of raccoons, foxes and bobcats is unregulated, which means the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department doesn't know how many hounds are in the woods, how many in- or out-of-state hounders are harassing people, how many animals are being injured or killed, where they are being killed, or what their age or health conditions are. Fish & Wildlife doesn't care how hounds are being kept, how they are trained or how they're discarded.

Vermont allows hounders on private property, where they are not welcome, to retrieve dogs they have no control over. Yet Fish & Wildlife game wardens (who themselves post pictures on social media of bloodied animals they've hounded) can cite and press charges against members of the public for "interfering with a hunter."

When hounding begins, on June 1, wildlife is pregnant and nursing. Bears are forced to run long distances in a drought-stricken state where food is scarce and habitat is encroached upon, in a climate that keeps getting hotter. Regulations are never going to stop the conflicts with property owners, serious threats to public safety or this terror in the woods.

No science on Earth would support this cruel activity.

Alana Stevenson


'Boiling Point'

There is no denying that, when it comes to the issue of hounding, things are coming close to a boiling point. Regarding the recent incident in Groton, it's hard to say if the woman felt threatened and chose to use the bear spray or exactly what happened. It is concerning that landowners are feeling so helpless that they're taking matters into their own hands. I am grateful no one was hurt.

Communities are tired of being told that there's nothing they can do to protect their property against hounds that are in pursuit of bears, coyotes, raccoons and other wildlife. Despite legally posting their land, landowners are forced to endure unwanted invasions by hounds, sometimes in the middle of the night. Then there's the obvious issue of cruelty. Some wildlife protection groups compare hounding to legalized animal fighting, and I would agree.

This is why the comments in the story by Warden Justin Stedman and Fish & Wildlife Commissioner Christopher Herrick ring so hollow. If the deck were stacked evenly, we could reasonably and believably talk about respect and civility and agreeing to disagree. But this is not a chess game or an academic exercise. Bears are being hounded to exhaustion, cubs are being needlessly orphaned, dogs are getting mauled, people's pets are at risk, family members are traumatized and private property rights are repeatedly violated.

Why? Because Fish & Wildlife chooses to put privileged special interests ahead of the greater public's.

Sophie Bowater

North Middlesex

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