Forum, April 21: No Panther Sightings Here

Thursday, April 20, 2017
No Panthers Seen Here

In response to Lorraine Zigman’s Forum letter about New England “panthers,” with its rather gratuitous insult to wildlife officials, who, she claims, have insulted her, I have a few words (“Yes, Vermont Has Panthers,” April 14). I am not a biologist, but I have roamed these woods daily, for from one to eight hours a day, for 50 years. I have also spent a great deal of time, though not as much, in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, and in the mountain West’s back country. Out West, I have seen a few cougars (who do not, by the way, run with their tails “looped up behind their backs” — though I may misunderstand Ms. Zigman’s description); I have also, many times, come upon cougar kills, both fresh and older, which are distinctive.

In five decades of roaming the New England outback, I have never come upon a single such cougar kill. Have I been unlucky or unobservant? Perhaps. But I have about a score of friends who are full-time outdoor hunting guides, and none has ever reported seeing a big cat or any sign of one either.

In this day and age, with all these “panthers” evidently on hand, it is curious that not one witness has in fact taken that cellphone picture she calls for, no?

Sydney Lea

Newbury, Vt.

Proper Disposal of Flags

Jeffery S. Holmes Post 84 of the American Legion in White River Junction would like to let anyone using the Hartford landfill know that we have a “Flag Barrel” located on the porch of the recycling center on North Hartland Road in White River Junction for the disposal of “retired” American flags. We monitor the barrel and empty it when it is full.  Depending on how many flags are “retired,” we will, along with the White River VFW, hold a proper disposal ceremony. This will coincide with Flag Day, June 14, or Veterans Day, Nov. 11.  Please help us fill the barrel with flags so they might get their proper disposal.

Charlie Patch

2nd Vice Commander, Post 84

White River Junction

Fairlee Project Is Timely

Important facts about the revote on the Fairlee Town Hall renovation and accessibility bond:

Because of charitable gifts and probable success with grants, it is most likely that we will borrow $619,500, $230,500 less than the bond’s not-to-exceed $850,000 figure.

The increased taxes created by improvements to properties of non-residents on Fairlee’s lakes within the past two years will come close to covering the carrying costs for the entire life of the bond.

Postponement of the project will lead to increased construction costs, higher interest rates and possibly a loss of grants.

Important infrastructure projects cannot continuously be delayed. The choice is to pay less now, or pay more later. Please vote yes on the Town Hall bond.

Don Weaver

Building Committee chairman


Sustainable Energy Now

Seriously, is it worth the risks to not make choices now that will help us move toward a sustainable energy future?

The dangerous effects of fracked gas, such as toxic chemicals in our aquifers, increased earthquakes and adverse health effects, are all well documented. Yet Liberty Utilities is requesting permission from the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission to build a fracked gas pipeline system through Hanover and Lebanon!

To permit building such a fossil fuel infrastructure will lock in new residential customers and the projected big “anchor customers” to decades of continued reliance on fuels that science shows us are clearly contributing to adverse environmental consequences. Once signing on to Liberty Utilities, customers will have little incentive to switch to newer, cheaper, sustainable energy sources for years to come.

If you share these concerns, send an email expressing opposition to this pipeline system. Make it clear that you support efforts that support sustainable, renewable energy sources. Please refer to DG-16-852 and email Director Debra Howland at executive.director@puc.nh.gov.

Karen Watson


Is New Hampshire Embarrassed?

If not driven by feelings of compassion, will embarrassment motivate New Hampshire legislators to increase funding to support the state’s Division of Children, Youth and Families so that it no longer ranks among the lowest among the states in providing protective and support services to children?

And can they also be convinced that increasing funding for mental health and addiction programs will be a long-term investment in a healthier and higher-functioning population in the state?

Deborah Metzger


Trapping Criticism Is Misguided

I’m a bit surprised that a person I don’t know would publicly attack me in the Valley News. I had submitted a letter to the paper about an interesting article about two young fellows trapping — a legal and honorable endeavor.

The letter in response contained misguided comments. In fact, “body grip ” traps will quickly dispatch the animal caught and prevent “writhing in pain and agony.” Padded jaw and offset jaw traps allow the release of the catch if so desired.

The letter writer wrote, “The barbarism of regarding animals as things (or products) should have gone out with the covered wagons.” I have to wonder, does the writer eat meat or perhaps wear leather shoes, belts, purses? Or, could the letter writer have zero tolerance for the opinions of others?

Ralph Kurash


Danger in North Korea

Our confrontation with North Korea becomes more worrisome every day. Belligerent statements from both sides only increase tensions. 

Recent pronouncements by Vice President Mike Pence that North Korea should see recent military strikes in Syria and Afghanistan as an indication of what the United States is willing to do to our adversaries are, I hope, no more than empty threats. 

Lobbing $80 million dollars worth of Cruise missiles into an airport (which was back in use 48 hours later) and dropping an obscenely huge conventional bomb on a bunch of people hiding in a cave are in no way equivalent to any kind of military strike against a country that possesses nuclear weapons and has no compunction about using them. Any such action by us against North Korea would have disastrous consequences for South Korea and possibly Japan, two of our most important Asian allies. We could never neutralize all of North Korea's conventional or nuclear weapons in a single stroke. The image of Seoul, South Korea (a city of 20 million) as a cinder is unthinkable.

The most unsettling aspect of this manufactured crisis is that the two principals rattling sabers at each other, the guy with the bad haircut in the north and our guy with the lounge lizard hairdo, are as mercurial and unprincipled as any two leaders in the world today. 

As you try to go to sleep tonight, reflect on the notion that both men have their finger on a nuclear trigger.

Sweet dreams.

Lloyd Bunten


Insurance at the Capitol

I wonder whether Forum writer Bruce MacDonald (“The Solution Is Right Before Us,” April 15) is aware that since Jan. 1, 2014, members of Congress have been required to purchase their health insurance through the exchanges established under the Affordable Healthcare Act?

Prior to that date, they were eligible to participate in the private insurance system that covers all federal workers under the Federal Employees Health Benefit System.

Like all other government employees, they receive a generous premium subsidy, but their insurance is not free, it’s not reserved for them only and it’s not government insurance.

Mary Nadeau