Vermont FWD Finds Legal Way for Child to Hunt Moose

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The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department with the assistance of sportswriter Lawrence Pyne has found a legal way for Dustin, a child with a life-threatening disease, to hunt for moose in Vermont this fall.

Each year a single moose permit is made available for a child with a life-threatening illness. The law requires that the child be sponsored by a 501(C)(3) nonprofit charitable organization and be eligible to hunt in Vermont. The deadline for applications is June 30 each year. This year, however, no applications were received by the department.

Queries concerning whether Dustin could be issued this special permit in 2009 were made to Fish and Wildlife by a potential sponsoring organization nearly a month after the deadline had passed. The department, in consultation with Legislative Counsel, determined that it lacked the authority to issue a permit in such a situation.

The department has been working to find a suitable alternative to help Dustin hunt this season. As a result of the recent attention that this situation has drawn, a number of successful moose permit holders have generously stepped forward and offered to name Dustin as a sub-permittee on the moose hunt. One Vermonter told Fish and Wildlife Commissioner Wayne Laroche that, "It would be a privilege for me to designate Dustin as my second shooter."

"This gracious act would provide Dustin a legal opportunity to hunt moose in Vermont this fall," Commissioner Laroche said. "The department is committed to do whatever it can to ensure that Dustin has a safe, comfortable and quality moose hunt this fall if the offer is accepted."

Calls have been made to Dustin's family to offer this opportunity. The department is also looking into amending the rule for next year to allow for more flexibility and avoid a similar situation from occurring in the future.