This page summarizes what has changed and what had remained the same with the Furbearer Species Rule (10 App. V.S.A. § 44) adopted by the Fish and Wildlife Board in December 2023. It is the responsibility of anyone participating in regulated trapping in Vermont to be familiar with and follow the adopted rule.
What Has Changed
Foothold Traps On Land Must:
- Have base plates with a center chain mount and swivel, free moving chain, and at least 2 additional swivels;
- Be anchored with a minimum of 12-inch chain and maximum of 18-inch chain between the base plate and the start of the anchoring system;
NOTE: Extra swivel and/or shock springs can be added to the chaining system, but the additions cannot cause the chain to exceed the 18-inch length.
- Be padded, offset, laminated, or have a minimum jaw thickness of 5/16th of an inch, or fully encapsulate the foot; Have a spread of no more than 6-1/4 inches measured inside the widest expanse of the jaws; and
- Be adjustable for pan tension.
Body Gripping Traps Are Allowed On Land If:
- it is under 40 square inches and unbaited.
- it is over 40 square inches but less than 60 square inches and is set 5 feet or more above the ground.
- it is over 40 square inches but less than 60 square inches and is in an anchored enclosure with openings no greater than 60 square inches and with a trap trigger that is recessed at least 12 inches from all openings.
NOTE: body-gripping traps over 60 square inches shall only be set in the water or under the ice.
- All meat-based bait must be covered at the time that a trap is set. Coverings include, but are not limited to, brush, branches, leaves, soil, snow, water, or enclosures constructed of wood, metal, wire, plastic, or natural material.
Method Of Take:
- Explosives and chemical or poisonous mixtures are prohibited, with the exception of a carbon dioxide chamber used in accordance with the recommendations of the American Veterinary Medical Association.
- It is illegal to take a fur-bearing animal from dens by cutting, digging, smoking, by the use of chemicals, or by the use of mechanical devices other than a legal trap set.
- Dispatch of a live, trapped furbearer can be done with a muzzleloader or gun fired at arm’s length; or a bow and arrow, or crossbow; or a carbon dioxide chamber in compliance with the American Veterinary Medical Association guidelines.
NOTE: Trappers are not prevented from releasing an unharmed captured animal.
Trapping Setbacks From Trails:
- No foothold traps or body-gripping traps shall be set on or within 50 feet of the travelled portion of a legal trail, public trail, or public highway, unless set in the water or under ice.
- “Legal Trails” are trails designated by a town and mapped by the Agency of Transportation.
- “Public Highway” means any town, state, or United States roads, shown on the highway maps of the respective towns, made by the Agency of Transportation.
- Maps that show legal trails and public highways for each town can be found on VTrans Town Highway Maps webpage. Just put in the town you want to look at.
- “Public Trail” is a path or corridor open to the public, used for nonmotorized recreational purposes such as hiking, walking, bicycling, cross-country skiing, horseback riding, and other similar activities; that is either designated and mapped or is clearly marked as a trail on municipal lands, Vermont state land, or federal land. Public Trails also include Vermont Rail Trails, the Appalachian Trail, and the Long Trail.
- No foothold traps or body-gripping traps shall be set on or within 100 feet of the buildings, parking lots, and maintained (cleared, continuously maintained or landscaped) portions of designated wildlife viewing areas, visitor centers, parks, playgrounds, picnic areas, shelters, pavilions, schools, camps or campgrounds, and recreational facilities such as ball fields or tennis courts; owned and managed by municipal, state or federal entities except that trapping may occur with the explicit permission of schools, camps or campgrounds.
- Setbacks do not apply to Wildlife Management Areas
- Setbacks do not apply to sets under the water or ice.
Trapping For Compensation
The following rules apply for those trapping for rabbits and/or for compensation:
- All traps must be checked once a day, except for body-gripping traps under water or ice, which must be checked once every three days.
- The name and address of the trapper must be legibly stamped or secured on traps with rustless tags.
- Bait must be covered as described above.
- Foothold and body-gripping traps on land must adhere to the measurements, base plates, and swivel requirements described above.
- Toothed traps and snares are prohibited.
- Possession of a live fur-bearing animal is prohibited except for the purpose of moving the animal to a more appropriate place for dispatch.
- It is illegal to possess fur or skin of any fur-bearing animal unlawfully taken.
- Explosives, chemicals or poisons are prohibited, with the exemption of carbon dioxide chambers.
- Bobcats, fishers, or otters may be kept for fur, but a a warden must be notified within 84 hours of take. The pelt must be tagged by a warden, and the tag must stay on pelts until tanning. Additionally, carcasses must be forfeited at time of tagging.
- Anyone who captures a lynx or marten must notify the Department immediately.
Species Specific Changes:
- No setting traps within 10 feet of the nearest point, above water, of a beaver house or dam during the month of March.
- Interfering with dams, dens, or beaver houses is prohibited, including trapping for compensation.
- Anyone who traps otter, fisher, or bobcat may keep the edible parts prior to submitting the carcass.
- Lynx rules have stayed the same, however all traps must comply with the changes above.
What Has Not Changed:
- Hunting seasons, trapping seasons and bag limits
- Trapping license requirements
- Trapper reporting requirements, including incidental take and domestic pet reporting
- Trap check time requirements (see subsections 4.1 and 4.2 of 10 App. V.S.A. § 44 for details)
- Trap tagging requirements, including visibility above ice for water/ice sets (see subsections 4.3 and 4.4 of 10 App. V.S.A. § 44 for details)
- Furbearer Species Rule 10 App. V.S.A. § 44
- LCAR letter to SOS - (Legislative Committee on Administrative Rule's letter to Secretary of State outlining objections to portions of 10 V.S.A. Appendix § 44 Furbearer Species rule - 12.14.2023)
- View a timeline and overview of the process for updating the changes to the trapping regulation
- Hunting Coyotes with Dogs