Public Input Sought for Vermont's Wildlife Conservation Roadmap

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From black bear, to golden-winged warbler to the pink heelsplitter mussel, a comprehensive statewide wildlife plan, still under development, is identifying Vermont's species of greatest conservation need and recommending just what to do to conserve them.

For more than a year many of Vermont's top wildlife experts have been examining wildlife of every color, big and small, the well-known and the mysterious. Now as the plan, officially the Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy (CWCS), comes together it is time for the public to weigh-in.

Two public meetings will provide the opportunity to ask questions, discuss wildlife conservation and the Strategy, and to offer comments and suggestions.

"This is an historic effort," said Jon Kart, coordinator of the Strategy for the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department. "Never before has Vermont taken such a comprehensive look at its wildlife. From birds to fish to mammals to amphibians, invertebrates and reptiles - they're all in there."

The goal is to prevent wildlife from becoming endangered. "That's challenging, but we know success is attainable because of conservation successes restoring species such as the wild turkey, white-tailed deer, loon, moose, fisher and peregrine falcon," said Steve Wright of the National Wildlife Federation.

Vermont's Strategy was developed by a partnership of more than 60 organizations, agencies and business interests. "Healthy wildlife populations are important to sportsmen and to ecosystems. Naturally, the Vermont Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs wanted to help," said President Roy Marble. "I encourage sportsmen and women to attend the meetings and get involved."

All 50 states and US territories are developing comprehensive wildlife conservation strategies under a congressional mandate. The work must be completed by October 1st for states to continue receiving federal funds for wildlife conservation activities under the State Wildlife Grant Program.

"The State Wildlife Grants program broadens our capacity to conserve wildlife," said Fish & Wildlife Commissioner Wayne Laroche. "Vermont has received more than $3 million for wildlife conservation since the program's inception in 2001."

Public input is vital to the process. "We know that wildlife protection and opportunities for wildlife-associated recreation are important to 97% of Vermonters. The CWCS will not be complete without the input of those Vermonters," said Kart.

The public meetings will be held at the Montpelier High School Cafeteria on July 12 and in the Seminar Room at the Burr & Burton Academy in Manchester on July 14. Both meetings run 7:00p.m.-8:30p.m.

The Strategy, an online comment form, directions to the meetings and background information are at www.vtfishandwildlife.com/SWG_home.cfm. Or, contact Jon Kart, 802-241-3652, jon.kart@state.vt.us.