Shumlin says no pardon for Bill and Lou
By Lucia Suarez
STAFF WRITER | October 23,2012
Vyto Starinskas / Staff Photo
Lou and Bill stand in a pasture at Green Mountain College in Poultney earlier this month.
Bill and Lou should not expect a pardon from the governor any time soon.
Gov. Peter Shumlin on Monday weighed in on the issue that has put Green Mountain College in Poultney on the map after controversy struck two weeks ago when it decided to slaughter its two long-time working oxen.
The governor, who owns an operating dairy farm in Putney, said Monday he supports the college’s decision and understands the decision many farmers have to make after their cattle have reached the end of their working lives.
“They have good beef to offer and we ought to eat them,” Shumlin said. “I support Green Mountain College. I support their decision to exercise death with dignity.”
Green Mountain College, one of the country’s leading environmental studies institutions, has recently been taking some flak after its decision to slaughter 11-year-old oxen Bill and Lou after a decade working at the college was made public two weeks ago.
More than 40,000 people from around the world have signed several petitions and sent letters and pleas to the college in hopes of saving Bill and Lou’s lives. But college officials have said they are standing firm on their decision regardless of the increasing publicity.
College spokesman Kevin Coburn recently said that although they support continuing dialogue with people not related to the college, he does not believe the college will overturn its decision.
“The moral dilemmas of sustainable farming have been around for some time,” Coburn said. “This is part of an ongoing process and discussion we are having.”
Bill and Lou have worked at GMC’s Cerridwen Farm for more than a decade, but Lou sustained an injury to his back leg that never fully healed.
In keeping with the college’s commitment to sustainable agricultural practices, students, faculty and staff ultimately decided to kill them instead of sending them to a rescue, which Coburn said could be detrimental to Bill and Lou.
VINE Sanctuary in Springfield has offered to take them at no cost, but the college has declined to accept the offer.
“There is not just one moral point of view,” he said. “People feel very passionate, but they must understand that it is a multifaceted issue and there is not a universally accepted right answer.”
Sometime next week, Bill and Lou will be taken to a nearby New York slaughterhouse. The processed beef will be served by the college’s dining service — about a month’s worth of hamburgers.
“That’s a lot of hamburgers,” Shumlin said.