Act 159 and Vermont’s Trapping Regulations

With the passing of Act 159 in 2022, the department was tasked to work with the Legislature and the Fish and Wildlife Board to establish best management practices (BMPs) that modernize trapping and improve the welfare of wildlife taken with the use of traps. The process to establish these best management practices was initiated June 1, 2022, and a first set of draft recommended regulation changes became available on November 22, 2022.

Additionally, a public information meeting was held on November 29, 2022, to gather early feedback on draft changes to the regulations. Read the legislative summary, the full act or review the department’s most current draft of recommended regulation changes, below.

Keep up to date with the latest news on Act 159 and our work on best management practices for trapping, as well as our work on Act 165 and hunting coyotes with hounds.

Vermont’s Furbearer Species

Vermont has many common and abundant species of furbearers, but many Vermonters may not know they share a landscape with these sometimes-secretive creatures. You can read up on furbearer species such as mink, American marten, eastern bobcat and more on our web page.

Survey Results: VT Residents’ Attitudes Toward Furbearer Management

The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department contracted with a leading natural resource survey firm, Responsive Management, to conduct a survey of Vermont residents’ knowledge and opinions of the department and our furbearer conservation efforts. Topics included:

Public attitudes about, and experiences with, common furbearer species
Opinions on furbearer management
Conflicts with wildlife
Knowledge and attitudes about regulated trapping

The department received the final survey report, which was conducted in October, on November 29, 2022. Like any large, science-based research project, staff will be analyzing the results for many months to come. The findings will be used to inform our current and future furbearer management and outreach efforts.

Key Survey Takeaways

The majority of Vermonters are satisfied with the department and view the department as credible.

63% are very or somewhat satisfied; 5% are somewhat or very dissatisfied; 5% are neutral; and 26% did not know.
Knowledge of the department was correlated with satisfaction, with 84% of those who reported knowing a great deal about the department being very or somewhat satisfied.
Most residents (60%) said the department was very credible; 29% said somewhat credible; 1% said not credible at all; and 10% did not know.

The survey asked Vermonters about their knowledge and awareness of eight common furbearer species (beaver, bobcat, coyote, fox, fisher, otter, raccoon, and skunk). Knowledge about furbearers was relatively low, ranging from 54% of residents saying they know a great deal or moderate amount about skunks to 21% who said the same about otters.

Many Vermonters seem unaware that these abundant, but often elusive species live near them.

The majority of Vermonters who believed a given furbearer species was around their home were happy with its current population size. Majorities of Vermonters saw a strong or moderate need to manage beaver, coyote, skunk, and raccoon, pluralities of Vermonters saw a strong or moderate need to manage bobcat, fox, and fisher; and only a third of Vermonters saw a strong or moderate need to manage otter.

The majority of Vermonters support regulated trapping. Overall, 60% of residents strongly or moderately support regulated trapping; 29% strongly or moderately disapprove of it; 10% didn’t know; and 6% were neutral.

Knowledge about regulated trapping and approval of different reasons to trap are variable.

50% of Vermonters incorrectly believed that regulated trapping can cause species to become threatened or endangered.

91% of Vermonters strongly or moderately approved of trapping for relocating and restoring wild animal populations, 70% to reduce damage to crops and gardens; and 26% for recreation.

However, regardless of personal opinions on trapping, 60% strongly or moderately support the right of others to trap, while 25% strongly or moderately oppose the right of others to trap; 10% were neutral; and 5% did not know.