COVID-19 Related Information

Connecting to Fish and Wildlife Staff

In response to Governor Scott's March 24, 2020 Stay Home, Stay Safe Executive Order to help slow the spread of COVID-19, Fish and Wildlife employees have transitioned to telework at this time - with very limited exceptions for reasons of health and safety.  We encourage members of the public to conduct business with our staff via phone, email or the web and we ask for your patience as we adjust to these unusual working conditions. If you have trouble reaching the staff member you need or do not know where to start, please contact us at:

Department of Fish & Wildlife - (802) 828-1454

Online and phone options

Outdoor Recreation

UPDATED: Wednesday, December 23 , 2020 
Given the important role outdoor and wildlife-based recreation play both in Vermont’s economy and in the physical and mental well-being of its residents, Governor Phil Scott continues to amend his “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order. If participants can distance and wear a mask, outdoor recreation with others can resume. No mingling is allowed. Gatherings will be allowed between two trusted households starting Wednesday, December 23, 2020, and going through Saturday, January 2, 2021.

Ice FishingDad with his daughters ice fishing

Ice fishing is a great way to get outdoors with family in a safe and socially distanced manner over the winter, and Vermont offers the greatest variety of top-notch freshwater ice fishing in New England. Check out these links for helpful tips for a fun and safe ice fishing adventure.

Remember to get your 2021 FISHING LICENSE and follow the REGULATIONS.

Small Game Huntingyoung hunter with beagle and hare

Small game hunting is a popular winter pastime for Vermont hunters, particularly for cottontail rabbits and snowshoe hare. Cottontails are found primarily in the Champlain Valley, Southwestern Foothills and Champlain Islands in agricultural lowlands, thickets and creek bottoms, and provide excellent sport for hunters electing to stalk them with a .22 rifle or chase them with a beagle and shotgun. Snowshoe hare are abundant in the Green Mountains and Northeast Kingdom and prefer dense softwood stands of spruce and fir.

Remember to purchase your 2021 HUNTING OR COMBINATION LICENSE and follow the REGULATIONS.

Trapping

Trapping is a long-standing outdoor activity in Vermont and a crucial way of managing and gaining information on fur-bearing species.

Visit a Wildlife Management Areagroups snowshoeing

The department owns and manages 130,000 acres across 100 Wildlife Management Areas statewide that offer wildlife-based recreational opportunities such as hiking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, photography, and wildlife-viewing.

NEW Vermont Outdoors Mobile Appiphone with app

To help the public recreate outdoors safely and in a socially distanced manner, we created the new Vermont Outdoors mobile application to connect you with department lands, fish and wildlife regulations, and up to date COVID-19 guidance. The app will help new and existing recreationalists find opportunities to hunt, fish, trap, or view wildlife on public lands and waters. You will also have easy access to fish and wildlife law digests, baitfish dealers, department news and current events, and reporting fish or wildlife violations. 

The app can be downloaded at the Apple App Store for iPhones and Google Play for Android phones.

Postponed Events

The Winter Ice Fishing Festival will not be held in January 2021. However, FREE Ice Fishing Day will take place on Saturday, January 30, 2021. On that day, anyone can fish statewide without a license.

COVID-19 Guideance

Take Health & Safety Precautions

Vermonters have broader latitude to pursue outdoor recreation, including additional opportunities for hunting, fishing, foraging, wildlife watching, and wildlife photography, among others. While the increased access to recreation is welcome, it is important to know that limitations and restrictions needed to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 still apply:

  • Keep a 6-ft distance from other people.
  • Masks or cloth facial covering are required in public wherever close contact is unavoidable including public spaces, indoors and outdoors. Mask and cloth facial coverings are not required when someone is engaged in strenuous exercise or activity.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer.
  • Avoiding touching surfaces which are often touched by others.
  • Clean and disinfect equipment that is shared.
  • Stay home if you are sick or have recently been exposed to someone who has COVID-19.
  • When engaging in outdoor recreation, do so safely and carefully. Search and rescue and emergency medical services both put strain on an already stressed system to provide those services.

Keep Your Social Circle Small

  • When recreating with others, choose other trusted households that are also taking health and safety precautions. This could be another family, or members of your own family who live in a separate household.
  • Limit your group to 10 people or fewer.

Stay Close to Home

  • Outdoor recreators are asked to stay as close to home as practical to reduce the risks presented by additional travel.
  • Consider outdoor spaces and open areas where it is not too crowded and easier to keep a physical distance.
  • Choose activities that do not require sharing food or touching shared objects or other surfaces.

Private Land Use

Those participating in activities outside are reminded that while trail and land management organizations may decide to open their property, in same cases they may not. As always, those hunting, fishing and enjoying other kinds of outdoor activities should respect the land and waters they recreate on, and if organizations choose to keep their lands closed should respect that and follow their guidelines.

Respect and Courtesy

The need for courtesy and respect among users is even more important during this pandemic than it is in normal times. For example, nobody should be gathering or congregating at parking areas, trailheads, access areas or other places before or engaging in recreation. Please give each other plenty of space, whether masks and other protective measures are utilized or not, and please keep dogs on leashes when they are in public places.

Providers of Outdoor Goods and Services

Outdoor goods and services businesses are open for customers to purchase and access equipment and services. Those businesses are reminded that they must conduct their operations in accordance with Agency of Commerce and Community Development rules, which can be found here.

Nonresidents Recreating in Vermont

Effective November 10, 2020, the State of Vermont is requiring anyone traveling to Vermont from another state to complete a 14-day quarantine before participating in any activities outside of a home or dwelling, including hunting, fishing and other outdoor recreation pursuits. This travel policy will be reviewed weekly and the most current guidance will be made available on the Cross State Travel website. Hunters and anglers are encouraged to carefully consider this quarantine requirement before purchasing a license, and make sure to allow sufficient time to quarantine as part of any planned travel to Vermont. 

cross-state travel information

Learn More

Contact Us

Vermont Department of Fish & Wildlife
Commissioner Louis Porter

1 National Life Drive
Fish & Wildlife LogoDavis 2
Montpelier, VT 05620-3702
802-828-1000
fwinformation@vermont.gov

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The mission of the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department is the conservation of all species of fish, wildlife, and plants and their habitats for the people of Vermont.