By Kyle Ciulla
On Sunday, Nov. 12, Sean Costello ’21 was walking in the conservation property across Route 15 with a friend when a local hunter approached them yelling.
According to Costello, the hunter said, “You guys can’t be walking here. There are hunters up there, and it’s illegal to disturb a hunter.” Costello said he did not want to get into an argument with the hunter and proceeded to walk back to campus.
“From the hunter’s point of view, he may have considered that he was providing an educational opportunity,” said Declan McCabe, associate professor of biology, adding that the interaction was a learning opportunity.
Director of Public Safety Doug Babcock said he was aware of the event that transpired and his office is in the process of posting signs around the perimeter of the property to inform people that hunting and trapping is forbidden. Babcock said he believes this will make the area safer for students.
While St. Michael’s owns the property, hunters access the land due to its abundance of wildlife. “Hunters should not be hunting on the [property], but if they are caught, the penalty is an ordinance violation which results in a small fine,” Babcock said.
“These signs will elevate the penalty for hunting on the land from an ordinance violation to a misdemeanor,” he said, “which is a crime.”
Some hunters still hunt on the land regardless of the penalty, so it is the student’s responsibility to be aware of their surroundings and be prepared if they encounter a hunter.
Kylie Bryce ’19 has been hunting since the age of 11. She said she uses hunting as a way to connect with her dad and ultimately relax. Bryce prides herself on being an “ethical hunter” which she says means respecting nature, being aware of her surroundings, and following the law.
Bryce said that she had to complete a hunting training course to get her permit in her home state of Vermont. She and Babcock agreed that safety is a “two way street.”
“Students and hunters should always have a mutual respect for one another,” Babcock said. He suggested that students in any wooded area dress like a “traffic cone,” always wearing bright orange which makes them easy to spot. It is also important to make human noises, like whistling, which can alert a hunter that there is another person in the vicinity and not to shoot in that general direction. Getting an acknowledgment from a hunter is always the best way to stay safe.
“It is important for hunters to know their surroundings and the land,” Bryce said. “But it is also important for pedestrians in nature to dress appropriately and be aware of their surroundings.”
Babcock also suggested students leave their pets at home. If a pet is not dressed in orange, they could be targeted by a hunter.
Hunting season dates
Below are the active hunting seasons through the rest of the year:
Deer — through Dec. 10
Crow — through Dec. 19
Squirrel, ruffed grouse (partridge), raccoon — through Dec. 31
Fox — Feb. 11, ’18
Coyote — year-round
Information courtesy of Vermont Fish and Wildlife