Vermont Woman Unleashes German Shepherd onto Bear Hunters’ Hounds, Charged After Altercation

by Matthew Memrick

A Vermont woman released her German Shepherd, which injured a bear hunter’s hound, and she and another woman after the incident.

The women reportedly harassed three bear hunters in Groton State Forest in November. Vermont wildlife officials said the dog needed veterinary care.

McClatchy News reported that Donna Babic and Betty Eastman “were found guilty of interfering” on Nov. 22, the state’s Fish & Wildlife Department announced in a press release. The actual incident occurred in October.

Hunters Chase Bear With Hounds

The state allows bear hunting and has two seasons (Sept. 1-Nov. 11 and Nov. 12-20).

“I would ask that Vermonters respect one another’s constitutional right to hunt,” Col. Jason Batchelder, Fish and Wildlife’s chief game warden, said in a statement.

Three hunters used hounds for black bear hunting in the Vermont forest area on Oct. 9. One bear led the “hounds on to private property” and climbed a tree.

The hunters left the bear alone and retreated. But when they found the two women letting air out of a hunter’s truck, officials said things got heated.

The two Groton residents argued with the hunting group, and one woman let her German Shepherd out of her car. The dog attacked a hound and needed veterinary care.

Vermont’s chief game warden said that Babic and Eastman did not own the property but disagreed with the use of hounds to hunt bears.

The women thought the hunters acted illegally and let the air out of the truck tires so that police could apprehend them.

But Batchelder’s investigation determined that the men had Vermont licenses and acted appropriately. State law allows for dog use with a permit, but commercial guiding in hunting is forbidden. 

Vermont Women Fined, Can’t Hunt For Year

Batchelder admitted that residents did not see eye to eye over wildlife management, but he urged state residents not to interfere with legal hunters. That interference, he said, would “result in court action” and could pose for a dangerous situation, as this one did for the dog.

The state press release said the Vermont women each got a $262 penalty and lost their “license privileges for fishing, hunting and trapping for a year.”  

One nonprofit group, Protect Our Wildlife, backed the chief game warden’s statement. It posted on Facebook that while “so many Vermonters oppose hounding and for various reasons, including the inherent cruelty to animals, the unavoidable violation of landowners’ rights, and conflicts with other recreational activities,” folks must follow the law.

The group urged better, sensible ways to fight “hounding” that included “legislative efforts and the “posting” law.

In September, a Peacham incident between two men ended up on social media and fueled a debate of current laws.

According to the VTdigger, critics of the current Vermont hound hunting laws did not like the environmental impact of hound hunting and the possible infringement on landowner rights.