I heard about the couple and puppy who were attacked by bear "hound" hunting dogs this past October on public land. I hope the Legislature will take up the hounding issue this session.
Hounding is where a hunter allows a pack of hounds to run, chase (and more often than not, repeatedly bite and rip apart), take down or tree wild animals. Hounders sit in their trucks, while their dogs, on GPS collars, run miles until the GPS shows the dogs are staying in one spot on a target. They then drive (as much as they can) and walk to where the dogs are. This may be hours later.
Beyond the cruelty and horror for the animals who fall victim to hounding, and the poor treatment and neglect of the hounds, hounding poses a safety risk for people.
Vermont statutes stipulate a hound hunter must be “in control” of their dogs. Under current law, GPS collars meet the criteria.
A GPS collar is a locator collar. "Knowing" the approximate location of your dogs is not "maintaining control" over them. No one, regardless of how brilliant they are, has control of any dog when that dog is out of sight.
The training hunting hounds endure is not safe or humane. Dogs used for hounding are tools and put at risk. They are punishment or corrective-based trained, very much like how dogs are trained to "dog-fight." They are often killed when no longer useful and when not "hunting," live in outside kennels and cages.
There should be legislation that states if hounding is to be legal, the hounds must be within verbal command and eyesight of their owner. If Fish and Wildlife cannot figure out how to do this, then the activity should be banned.
Alana Stevenson lives in Charlotte.