Letters to the Editor: May 2

Ways to help prevent bird-window collisions

To the Editor:

In March, this paper published several articles on birdwatching events and local enthusiasm for our feathered friends who make the journey, sometimes across continents, to get to New England. While birding is a wonderful activity that brings people together, birds are suffering from a drastic population decline owing to the destruction of their habitats and changes in the climate. It can feel overwhelming to try to combat these underlying issues yourself; however, one way you can make an immediate difference is by helping to prevent birds from colliding with the windows in your homes and businesses.

It is estimated that every year a billion birds are killed by collisions with windows in the United States alone. Put another way, every second 32 unique melodies are silenced by window collisions. From red-winged blackbirds to the American woodcock, even a seemingly minor collision can have lifelong impacts on fragile bodies. Thankfully, such collisions can be prevented, and spring migration, which lasts through May, is the perfect time to help our avian companions.

There are two inexpensive and simple actions you can take. The first is simply turning off unnecessary lights at night from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. to prevent birds from being led to your building during peak nighttime migrations. The second is marking your windows with patterns, ideally in 2-inch increments, to make it easier for birds to spot glass. This can be accomplished by drawing on windows with everyday materials such as a bar of soap, tempera paint or stickers if you are feeling fancy. I urge you to browse the many online resources published by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and bird conservation organizations to find the best method for you.

Kai Etheridge
Hanover, N.H.

A not-so-excellent adventure

not tragic thanks to Charlotte rescue

To the Editor:

On a recent Saturday, I joined family and friends to open our camp on the lake. A friend, Kit, came along with his little schnauzer dog, Lucky. By noon, we were finished. Everyone had gone but Kit, Lucky and me, when Kit realized that Lucky was nowhere in sight and not responding to his calls. Then he heard thrashing and splashing and saw that the dog had jumped or fallen into the lake. Kit sped down the wooden steps to a deck 6 feet above the water. The ladder leading to the water was not in place at this time of year but Kit flipped off his shoes, jumped into the frigid water, grabbed the dog and swam toward the shore.

Hearing Kit’s cries for help, I hastened down to the deck and recognized a desperate situation. There was no way to dry land. Kit had hoisted Lucky to a niche in the rocks and climbed partly out of the water gripping cracks in the wall of granite. There he was trapped at the base of the rocky cliff, soaked and cold, unable to climb the cliff or to move along it. I knew that there was no flotation device nearby, no boats were on the lake. Kit was numb, cold and frightened. He wouldn’t be able to hold his grip much longer.

Anxiously, I called 911. An ambulance soon appeared at the camp above; the EMTs who came down to the deck realized the gravity of Kit’s situation. They called for help immediately; when the red Charlotte Fire and Rescue boat appeared in the distance, they directed it to us by radio. The boat nosed up to the rocky cliff, Kit and dog plunged into the water and were hauled onto the boat. At an access point, the rescue boat met an ambulance from Shelburne Rescue. Kit was taken to the ER at UVM and treated for mild hypothermia. Lucky went for triage to the Comfort Hill Kennel in Vergennes. The treatments succeeded, and by evening man and dog were reunited. 

Reviewing this incident, I counted 11 people directly involved in the rescue effort. It is to their timely response, courteous and expert, and to the teams backing them up that Kit, Lucky and I owe thanks beyond measure. Money for first responders is hard to swallow when you read a budget line, but when the service is needed, life will be at risk. This letter expresses a small part of our gratitude. 

Richard Pillard

P.S. Some readers may fault a man attempting a water rescue in this cold season. I say wait until you’ve owned a dog for many years.

S.258 is a very bad bill, please oppose it

To the Editor:

Vermont Senate Bill S.258, recently passed, would remove the authority for rulemaking from the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Board and transfer it to the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife. This moves rulemaking authority from a democratic forum to technocrats. Worse yet, the Agency of Natural Resources, being part of the administration, is subject to powerful influence by whomever the sitting governor may be at the time — either personal or partisan influence. Currently, the board is independent of whomever the sitting governor is.

The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Board was created when the Vermont Legislature, after some disastrous decisions concerning the deer herd, decided it did not have the expertise, experience or firsthand knowledge for setting hunting and fishing rules and regulations. Thus, they created a separate citizen-populated board to handle the task. This was a very important step for bringing decision making closer to rule by citizens, the essence of democratic government. The board has done an outstanding job with what they were tasked to do.

Years ago, the Water Resources Board underwent this same proposed transformation, to the detriment of Vermonters in the decisions that have been made since then. Recently, there was a demonstration of the role of the governor in proposed rules on wake boats against the wishes of almost all feedback from Vermonters.

All of this has come about due to the political pressure from animal rights groups whose goals, for the most part, would be to end all hunting and trapping — notwithstanding their claims to the contrary. Those goals are what keeps those organizations alive. Their strategy is to do anything that would weaken the influence of hunters and trappers on rulemaking This would be like putting right-to-lifers on the board of Planned Parenthood.

Please oppose it.

Ray Gonda
South Burlington