Outrage Over Vermont Hunter Petting Illegally Shot ‘Good Boy’ Deer

Hunter Faces Calls for Animal Cruelty Charges in Vermont

A cell phone video capturing a hunter's disturbing behavior towards an illegally shot and injured deer has ignited a demand for animal cruelty charges from wildlife advocates. The footage reveals the hunter petting the wounded deer and saying "good boy" before ultimately taking the animal's life.

However, Vermont's animal cruelty law does not extend to activities regulated by the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department, which includes hunting and trapping.

The 21-year-old hunter featured in the video now faces multiple charges related to deer poaching and other incidents that occurred in October and November of 2022. Among the charges is hunting while his license was revoked. The hunter's newly appointed lawyer has refrained from making any comments on the case.

Animal Cruelty and Hunting Rules

In most states, regulations regarding animal cruelty in hunting are enforced through hunting rules that specify legal weapons, calibers, hours, and seasons. These rules aim to prevent hunters from using inhumane or ineffective methods, as explained by Lindsay Thomas Jr., Chief Communications Officer for the National Deer Alliance. He believes that state wildlife enforcement agencies can still bring charges in cases of cruelty to a deer.

It's important to distinguish between a hunter and a poacher. "We think of a hunter as someone who's ethical and follows the rules," Thomas noted.

The Disturbing Video Evidence

In Vermont, the video captured a buck, still alive and lying in a hay barn, as documented by state game warden William Seeger. The deer was panting, likely suffering from spinal trauma caused by a broadhead or bullet wound, rendering it largely paralyzed. The hunter can be heard in the video, petting the deer and saying "Good boy," as if it were a domestic pet. Photos show the deer alive in the barn and later, deceased and hanging in the hay barn.

Advocacy for Animal Cruelty Charges

Protect Our Wildlife Vermont is advocating for the 21-year-old hunter to face animal cruelty charges. According to Brenna Galdenzi, the president of the nonprofit, this incident falls outside the boundaries of legal hunting, meeting the definition of tormenting and torturing an animal.

The hunter admitted to shooting the buck with a crossbow in Peacham after leaving his ex-girlfriend's home in anger. After discovering the deer was still alive, he transported it to a hay barn. Lacking arrows and a knife, the hunter claimed he would have killed the animal before moving it if he had the equipment.

Eventually, the hunter used an arrow to end the buck's suffering while it was inside the barn, estimating it was alive for at least five minutes, according to the game warden's report.

Calls for Legal Reforms

Galdenzi decried the "egregious" nature of the case, highlighting how the hunter appeared to take out his frustrations on the animal. Protect Our Wildlife Vermont intends to collaborate with the legislature to revise Vermont's animal cruelty law, potentially adding the term "lawful" to activities regulated by the Department of Fish and Wildlife. This change would signify that behaving cruelly, even within the context of hunting or trapping, is not protected under the hunting umbrella.

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