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Attorney General Calls on Legislature to Extend Free Hunting & Fishing Licenses to Native Peoples

February 5, 2020

Contact: David Scherr, Co-Director, Community Justice Division, 802-828-3171


Today Attorney General Donovan called upon the Legislature and the Governor to pass a bill that would provide free hunting and fishing licenses to citizens of Vermont’s State-recognized Native American Indian Tribes. The bill, H.716, will add citizens of Vermont’s State-recognized Native American Indian Tribes to the list of people eligible for a free permanent license from Vermont’s Fish and Wildlife Department.

“The Abenaki have hunted and fished these lands for centuries,” said Attorney General Donovan. “Their claim on these resources is both powerful and centuries old. Recognition of their claim is just and overdue.”

Attorney General Donovan has been pleased to work in partnership with Chief Don Stevens from the Nulhegan Band of the Coosuk Abenaki Nation. “We all continue to see hate towards minority populations, political turmoil, and partisanship at the national level,” said Chief Stevens. “I truly appreciate the fact that the Vermont State Government continues to demonstrate that there is a better way to conduct business. The Vermont Attorney General’s Office and the Abenaki Tribal Governments are a wonderful example of how people, who were once adversaries, can find a path forward with respect and civility toward one another. I appreciate the commitment by the Attorney General in honoring Abenaki subsistence hunting and fishing rights.”

Passage of the bill may result in a modest decrease in revenue from licenses—a burden Attorney General Donovan believes the State should readily shoulder. It will also promote a much-needed influx of new sportspeople to Vermont’s hunting and fishing communities, and will help Vermont partner with native peoples to promote environmental and conservation initiatives.

Attorney General Donovan has submitted a letter to chairs and legislators of the committees of jurisdiction calling on the Legislature to act. A copy of the letter can be found here.