In Their Own Words: Coyote Hound Hunters Describe A Typical Winter Hunt

Another bloody dog fight shared on the private Facebook page, “Northeast Hunting with Hounds on March 5, 2023.

Had Scott my brother, Pat, and Rick hunting today with Hatchet and Pebbles. Steve hunting with his hounds and a couple friends. Found good tracks crossing into small piece. We dropped Hatchet and he took track all the way to opposite corner about a mile away. The 2 coyotes circled back and crossed out before we got them jumped with hounds. They diagonaled across this woods and made it to huge woods with at least 150 deer wintering in it. Hatchet and Pebbles pounded coyotes on and off for about 3 hours. Had a split hunt going at one time. Thought I was in Africa on the Serengeti with the unbelievable amount of deer that poured out!

The red track is that of a loose hound chasing coyotes in a winter deer yard in upstate New York 03/05/23.

Pat and Scott went in the woods. Pat had a visual on a Grey coyote but no shot. Dogs got back on same yote and put by my brother who got some lead into it. While this was going on sniper Rick had a big yote come out of woods and sit on edge on top of a big pile. He had his 22-250 and threw a shot at the coyote at 270 yards. He saw yote fall but fell behind pile. He walked in and had massive amounts of blood but yote was gone. Good blood trail.

Evidence of another typical and vicious battle between a wounded coyote and pursuing hounds on March 5, 2023.

He followed aways but had no gun with him so came back to his truck. We planned to come back and put hound on later after we take care of bay that Hatchet and Pebbles had going. They bayed yote up 400 yards from where Scott shot it with #4 buck. He tried to sneak into bay to dispatch but coyote took off.

Where a wounded coyote stopped to face the hounds, typically called a “bay.”

Pebbles is a little gun shy so now she didn’t want nothing to do with bay. Scott took her to truck and I drove 7 miles and picked Zues up. Got back and Hatchet was bayed again 550 yards from road . Cut Zues who got to him. Scott was just getting to bay when he saw Zues and yote rolling on ground. He rushed in and yote took off again.

Coyote hounds doing what they are trained to do, track, trail, fight and kill their wild cousins.

Tackled in 89 yards by Zues, this time Hatchet grabbed yote by neck and had pinned down. Both hounds where all over it. He rushed in and put barrel to head and finished it. Don’t need any vet bills. Hounds did get bite juries from the fight. Nothing major. Coyote had mange so Pic only and left it in woods.

Just the latest in many coyotes this New York hound hunter has brutally killed and left in the woods. Notice the two front legs have been shot off.

Back to wounded coyote. Rick and Pat walked Zues to last spot he tracked. They kept on leash and followed. They caught upto yote. Rick had shot both front legs off from knee down. Big coyote. Enjoy the pics!

Vermonters have the opportunity to end coyote hunting with hounds once and for all.

Please contact your elected representatives and let them know you support H.323 An act relating to prohibiting the hunting of bear or coyote with dogs.

Get Your Wolf Patrol T-shirts, Hoodies & Tanks Now & Support Our Fight Against Trapping in Vermont!

For one week only, Vermont Wolf Patrol is collaborating with For the Love of All Things (FLOAT) on a fundraiser t-shirt sale featuring a beautiful woodcut beaver print by local artist, Laurie Books. $8 of every item purchased will go towards the campaign to end trapping in Vermont and support for proposed legislation that would end recreational trapping in Vermont. 

Visit the link above to see all the colors and styles available!

Vermont Wolf Patrol met artist/activist Laurie Brooks while investigating suspected illegal trapping by a trapper employed by the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) to kill the beavers along a hiking trail in southern Vermont that borders Laurie’s farm. VTrans spends hundreds of thousands of dollars each year to address beaver conflicts, mostly blocked culverts that threaten to flood roads. What has been discovered is a literal “lethal only” campaign by VTrans, whereby instead of installing non-lethal beaver deception devices, the state hires trappers and frequently uses heavy machinery in sensitive wetlands to destroy dams and beaver lodges.

Besides purchasing a t-shirt, Vermonters are encouraged to also join Vermont Wolf Patrol at the next Vermont Fish & Wildlife Board meeting on March 15, 2023 where recommendations on proposed changes to trapping rules will be discussed. In addition, the board will address proposed regulations created for coyote hunting with hounds as well as wolf recolonization in Vermont!

Next Fish & Wildlife Board meeting: Wednesday, March 15, 2023 at the Dill Building, VT Agency of Transportation, Room 135, 2178 Airport Rd, Berlin, VT 05641. The meeting will start at 5:00 PM. Information to join the meeting virtually via Microsoft Teams will be found in the agenda on March 8:

Senate Introduces Companion Bill To End Recreational Trapping in Vermont

This coyote awaits his death in a foothold trap in Maine. February 12, 2023

On February 28, Senator Brian Campion introduced S. 111, a bill that would end recreational trapping and establish a nuisance wildlife trapping license program. The bill proposes to prohibit the trapping of fur-bearing animals unless the person trapping is authorized to trap in order to defend property or agricultural crops or the trapping is conducted by a licensed nuisance wildlife control operator. S.111 is a companion bill with the same language as H.191 that was introduced in the Vermont House of Representatives on February 7, 2023.

In January 2023, the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department (VFW) submitted a report to the Legislature on efforts to improve the welfare of animals caught in traps in Vermont. Act 159 (S.201) directed the department to suggest rule changes such as the establishment of best management practices (BMPs), On March 15, 2023 those recommendations will also be presented to the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Board at their monthly meeting in Montpelier.

Within the report to the legislature are recommendations for the use of BMP traps that can still take up to 5 minutes to kill their victims. Trapping BMPs require that body-gripping traps be put to the test to establish how long they take to kill fishers, otters, beavers, mink and muskrats. While some trap research is conducted on active traplines in Vermont, VFW says other research is conducted at a research facility in Alberta, Canada funded by the international fur industry.

Another directive of Act 159, was for VFW to develop a budget for funding the replacement of the privately owned traps of Vermont’s 400 active trappers with those that are BMP approved. The proposed cost to taxpayers would be between $300,000 to $400,000.

From VFW’s January 2023 Legislative report on recommended improvements to trapping.

Vermont Wolf Patrol supports S.111/H.191 but is also asking legislators to end the use of cruel body-gripping traps and foothold traps used as “drowning sets” by licensed nuisance trappers. Vermont’s Agency of Transportation employs trappers with $200,000 contracts to take out beavers and otters they believe are damaging the state’s roads, bridges and highways. While some complaints are legitimate, non-lethal measures are still available should body-gripping traps and drowning sets be banned.

Most VTrans nuisance trapping occurs immediately off of roads and highways, often near culverts that are blocked by beavers. In January 2023, Vermont Wolf Patrol documented VTrans beaver trapping in southern Vermont with body-gripping traps and drowning sets five feet from designated walking paths where many walk their dogs. S.111 would only allow nuisance trappers like VTrans to kill beavers and other animals if there is an imminent threat of damage or destruction to roads, bridges and highways.

Both bills are now in the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Energy and the House Committee on Environment and Energy. Email addresses for committee members can be found here:

Please contact your elected representatives and add your support to S.111/H.191 with our suggested revisions to improve animal welfare standards for nuisance trapping!

S.111 As Introduced:

Please join Vermont Wolf Patrol in person or online at the next Vermont Fish & Wildlife Board meeting where trapping, coyote hunting with hounds and wolf recolonization in Vermont will be discussed. The next meeting is Wednesday, March 15, 2023 at the Dewey Conference Room 1 National life Drive, Montpelier, VT 05620 The meeting will start at 5:00 PM. A link to join the meeting virtually via Microsoft Teams can be found on the Fish & Wildlife Board’s webpage on March 8, 2023.

An Inside Look at Coyote Hunting with Hounds

On February 21, 2023 in upstate New York, this coyote was chased for miles, dragged out of the river by its head by hounds then killed and dumped.

From a February 22, 2023 Facebook post on the page: Northeast Hunting with Hounds

Hunted yesterday with brother Scott and Steve. Steve got there a little late. Conditions were horrible. Zues and Clyde were the hounds we ran. They jumped coyote fairly quickly and pounded in circles on a 450 acre piece that is surrounded by river on 1 side and tributary other. Big peninsula. Hounds did great for the first 3 hours. Scott shot at it 2 different times. Didn’t kill it or slow it down. The conditions got worse as it started raining and temp warming up. Had a huge miss. I was able to rejump coyote but Zues couldn’t keep it going. We pulled pin but hounds get an A for conditions and brother should have finished it off. He gets a D-.

The view screen monitoring the trail of GPS-collared coyote hounds. Often hounds will kill the pursued coyote before the hound hunter can reach the location.

Today Steve was out and dropped 2 hounds early. I got there they were pounding. Steve said circling 250 yards in. I couldn’t track because of collars he was using. I found track where went by on a circle and waited . I stopped waited as hounds pounded toward me. Coyote circled in front at 90 yards. Wind in my face. Never made me. Headed out and away, so I moved up. Circled back at me and again crossed in front at 80 yards. Could have taken shot but yote didn’t know I was there and I knew I could get closer. I snuck up on this track and they were headed back at me again. Nice running yote except his circles were always 80 to 90 yards different.

Make no mistake, coyote hunting with hounds is legalized dog-fighting.

Hounds took yote a mile and half to some thick cedars and circled 3 or 4 times by Steve. He never got a shot. Yote then headed back toward me. I had moved up on a stream. It had running water and shelf ice. I fell through ice last year in this spot, waste deep and I had 976 yards of to walk after I dumped the water out of my boots. I was a frozen popsicle when I made it to truck. Clothes froze stiff from waist down.

On January 27, 2023 the New York hound hunter telling these stories, shared this picture of a coyote whose head was torn off by hounds. From the private Facebook page: Northeast Hunting with Hounds.

Well anyway, coyote crossed 200 yards below me. I moved to spot yotes crossed last time I was in this woods a couple weeks ago. Hounds circled in cedars a Mile away. Circled a couple more times then hounds run it by me at 196 yards in side of woods across stream from me. I really thought this would be it! Coyote went by and did huge loop and turned coming back opposite way right at me. Hounds were pounding getting close. Most of day coyote was only 30 seconds ahead of hounds. Brother had cut Pebbles earlier so now I could track hounds (last couple loops) Coyote came directly in front across creek from me at approx 60 yards and stopped. He was looking back. He made a step to parallel stream.

Like other fighting dogs, coyote hounds are taught and praised for their bloodlust.

I had bead on him and squeezed off 2 shots of #4 3inch buck shot. First shot saw the huge flinch. Coyote headed away flying. I radioed Scott and Steve that I had definite hit but not sure how far it would go. Made it 200 yards and bayed up. Had Scott come in from other side of creek with 22.

By time he got there he saw the hounds pull coyote out of stream by its head. They were now on my bank and I was only about a minute behind Scotts visual. When I got there coyote was dead and hounds chewing on it.

Yote was a nice Grey colored but had mange so had to leave in woods. Leashed up 2 hounds and headed for truck 700 yards away! All 3 hounds did great! Some of the best hound music of the year!!

Support H.323 Let’s End Coyote Hunting with Hounds in Vermont Once and For All!

Find Your Representative:

New Bill H.323 Would End Hound Hunting for Coyote and Bear in Vermont

On February 22, 2023 An act relating to prohibiting the hunting of bear or coyote with dogs, H.323 was read and referred to the Vermont House Committee on Environment & Energy. The bill would not prohibit the hunting of other game animals and birds with the aid of dogs. The bill was sponsored by Representative Larry Satcowitz (District: Orange-Washington-Addison) who is also a sponsor of H.191 a bill that would ban recreational trapping. There is no date yet known when either bill will be discussed in the Committee on Environment & Energy.

Both H.323 and H.191 address the growing conflict between hound hunters, trappers and landowners and residents opposed to the practices. In recent years, confrontations between Vermont hound hunters and landowners have been filmed and gone viral. Many landowners object to bear hounds on their property, while other residents have been cited for pepper spraying bear hunters legally using hounds. The conflicts have led to other legislation, such as Act 165, related to hunting coyotes with hounds which mandated the establishment of regulations and a season on hunting coyotes with hounds in Vermont.

Please contact your elected representatives and members of the House Environment & Energy Committee to voice your support for the proposed legislation and let them know you do not support the use of free roaming dogs to hunt coyotes or bears.

H.323 As Introduced:

Why Do We Need Wolves in Vermont?

Because they belong here. Wolves, like other native species recently exterminated, were part of the natural fabric of Vermont, long before there ever was a Vermont. Wolves, mountain lions and lynx lived here for not just hundreds, but thousands of years. They did not disappear, they (and the habitat necessary for their survival) were intentionally destroyed to make way for human progress in the form of settlement and livestock.

In the last few centuries, the entire northeastern portion of North America was radically altered to suit the needs of just one species, humans. With the arrival of European explorers came a voracious appetite for fur, which led to the commercial extinction of many forbearing animals desired by markets overseas. Those native forbearing species like the wolf and lynx that survived this initial onslaught were then targeted because they preyed on the domestic livestock that accompanied European settlement.

By the early 1900’s the howl of the wolf had all but vanished from the place we today call Vermont. In their place, over time came other species that could survive on the logged and exhausted landscape. Smaller predators like bobcats and coyotes slowly filled the ecological niche left with the absence of apex predators, but today we are witnessing the impact of this change to our (and animals) environment.

Caribou, elk, wolverine, bison, mountain lions and wolves once called Vermont home.

As has been seen in other former wolf habitat in North America, when wolves are allowed to return, they restore a balance not seen in most of our human lifetime. Rivers, plants and especially native ungulates like deer and moose rely on apex predators to keep a balance that humans alone cannot match. Without natural predation, deer and other prey can become detrimental to their own habitat, over browsing trees and plants necessary for healthy waterways. Without natural predations, disease and starvation become more common among ungulate populations.

Many people, especially sport hunters benefit from the lack of apex predators by finding species like deer more plentiful and easier to hunt as they have lost their fear of natural predation from wolves. In places like Montana, Wisconsin and Michigan where wolves have recently returned or been reintroduced, many hunters claim that wolves are “killing all the deer” but the truth is that wolves in those states still subsist on fewer deer than are killed by humans…and automobiles.

What has changed in those states is the ease hunters once had in killing a deer, elk or moose when those species changed their behavior without the threat of apex predators. Gone are the days when you could go hunting in your tennis shoes and shoot a big buck from the roadside or your heated tree stand over bait. In states where wolves have returned, we have seen a return to what functional ecosystems used to look like before the intentional eradication of some predators.

This slide from Vermont Fish & Wildlife recognizes that wolves were essential as predators for beavers and other animals. In their absence, human trapping is meant to replicate natural predation.

In many states including Vermont, state wildlife agencies work hard to restore native species overexploited by humans. In Vermont, black bears for example have rebounded thanks to efforts of not only state wildlife agencies, but even hunters. But in nature one cannot pick and choose which native animals are allowed to return to healthy numbers because of their popularity today as a huntable “game animal.” We must strive to restore the proper balance that existed before our meddling of the last centuries and not focus only on those animals that again benefit humans.

Humans alone are not the natural apex predator like the wolf. Too often hunters favor killing the strongest and largest deer, elk and moose – not the old and sick or overpopulated. Alone we cannot pretend that healthy ecosystems require only “wildlife management” by licensed recreational hunters, the land and the animals we love to hunt or simply watch need apex predators like the wolf.

Would the return of the wolf to Vermont lead to more predation on livestock and people’s pets? Probably. But predation of non-target animals can be greatly avoided through non-lethal methods like grazing livestock closer to barns and the use of livestock protection animals like certain types of dogs and even donkeys which have been proven to reduce predation on livestock by apex predators. Remember, in Vermont wolves and mountain lions were intentionally eradicated to make way for sheep and other livestock new to our environment.

An incredible 91% of Vermont’s population support the restoration of extirpated species like the wolf!

We are not saying that wolves belong on the landscape and Vermont’s many dairy and sheep farms do not, we simply believe that our restored healthy forests again need natural predators like wolves and lions who can naturally reduce populations of deer and moose currently affected by diseases never before seen in a healthy ecosystem.

When many of us were children, we were taught that the Endangered Species Act was needed to protect native animals from human eradication, with the wolf as a prime example of what should NOT be done to promote and protect our natural environment. And while there are still many opposed to the return of the wolf where their kind has recolonized former habitat, there are so many more who celebrate this wildlife success story.

In Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan for example, the indigenous Anishinaabe inhabitants revere the wolf as a brother who was delivered by the Creator to help us all survive. They believe that what happens to the wolf will happen to them and view the return of the wolf as an indication that humans have learned a valuable lesson about survival and coexistence.

A NY hound hunter reported this possible wolf sighting in Vermont in 2019.

Now it is our turn. Will you join us in welcoming the wolf back to Vermont? Are you willing to alter some of your behavior when visiting our forests so there is again room for another native inhabitant to this beautiful place we also call home? Will you also rejoice and yourself feel a part of your spirit restored when you again hear the howl of a wolf in Vermont?

On February 15, 2023, the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Board will be addressing a petition regarding the protection of large canids including wolves. Click on the link below to see the agenda and tune into the 02/15/23 presentation:

Are you ready to welcome the return of the wolf to Vermont?

Bill to End Recreational Trapping Introduced in Vermont

A beaver carries a branch in a river in France. Photo: Louis-Marie Preau

On February 6, 2023 H.191 was introduced in the Vermont House of Representatives as a bill that would “prohibit the trapping of fur-bearing animals unless the person trapping is authorized to trap in order to defend property or agricultural crops or the trapping is conducted by a licensed nuisance wildlife control operator.” With the support of 24 additional Representatives, if passed into law H.191 would effectively end trapping for recreation and profit in Vermont.

Last month, the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department (VFWD) released its report to the Legislature on the agency’s response to Act 159, which directed the VFWD to recommend improvements to existing trapping practices in Vermont. The report includes minimal changes to current trapping practices, while introducing best management practices (BMPs) to trapping that require traps that are tested to prove their ability to kill within 300 seconds. VFWD report includes a budget for replacing the traps owned by licensed trappers which is $300,000 to $400,000 of which portions are expected to come from public funds.

The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Board will be meeting in Montpelier on March 15, 2023 to vote on the current recommended changes to trapping practices in Vermont. Please visit their website to learn more about the proposed changes and for how you can act in defense of Vermont’s furbearers!

House Bill 191 as Introduced

Fish & Wildlife Asks Legislature for $400,000 to Buy Vermont Trappers New Body-Grip & Foot-Hold Traps

Fishers are one of the most trapped species in Vermont
Vermont Wolf Patrol’s 01/27/23 investigation of traps along the D&H Trail outside of West Pawlet, Vermont.

In June 2022, Act 159 An act relating to best management practices in trapping was signed into law in Vermont. Act 159 directed the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department (VFWD) to “modernize” trapping in the state and improve animal welfare for the thousands of beavers, fishers, otters and other animals legally trapped each year in Vermont. In January 2023, VFWD presented its Report to the Legislature including recommendations to establish “best management practices” (BMPs) including replacing trappers traps with approved BMP traps.

The effort to establish BMPs for trapping has been the work of the fur industry for decades in an effort to minimize the suffering endured by hundreds of thousands of animals that are trapped for their fur each year. Faced with global opposition to trapping, organizations like the Fur Institute of Canada and the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies were established to support research into trapping methods that reduced animal suffering. Ironically, this research involves using live animals in kill-tests where animals are intentionally crushed in traps.

Vermont Fish & Wildlife wants you to support research on better killing methods for recreational trappers.

VFWD’s recommendations to improve trapping in Vermont include support and funding for continued BMP research into every new model of trap produced on the open market, in order to determine its efficiency in “humanely” killing animals. Current standards for BMP body-gripping traps like those used by Vermont’s Agency of Transportation and recreational trappers in state are that they must kill an animal within five minutes in 70% of the experiments conducted with the same trap.

Act 159 also instructed the Commissioner of Fish & Wildlife to come up with a budget for replacing the traps currently used by Vermont’s 400 licensed trappers with BMP traps. In their report, VFWD says, “The total cost to provide reimbursement for replacement of current systems with BMP-sanctioned trapping systems for roughly 400 trappers is estimated at between $300,000 and $400,000.”

A Corinth pet killed in an illegally set body-grip trap in December 2022.

Act 159 began as a bill to ban trapping. It has now become a state funded effort to improve the public image of trapping, including using our tax dollars to buy new traps that will continue to crush and drown wildlife and occasionally someone’s pet. If VFWD has its way with the Legislature, the biggest improvement to trapping in Vermont to come from Act 159 will be that it will pay for thousands of new body-gripping and foot-hold traps that will be legally and illegally used in Vermont.

Please contact Vermont’s Senate Committee on Natural Resources and politely let them know you do not support the use of public funds to purchase traps designed solely to kill wildlife.

Chair, Senator Christopher Bray

Vice-Chair, Senator Anne Watson

Senator Dick McCormack

Senator Mark A. MacDonald

Senator Becca White

Committee Assistant Jude Newman

(802) 828-2296

Also, Let VFWD know you do not approve their recommended improvements to trapping in Vermont!

please email  subject line “BMP Trapping Recommendations.”

An illegally set foot-hold trap found five feet off the D&H Trail in West Pawlet, Vermont on 01/27/23.

Vermont Fish & Wildlife Response to Act 159 Report to the Legislature

Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department Says 13 Pets Were Caught in Traps in 2022

Clara was a 3-year-old Shetland sheepdog. Her December 2022 death in a body-gripping trap in South Corinth is still under investigation.

At a September 2022 meeting to draft best management practices for trapping in Vermont. The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department (VFWD) presented information on the “incidental” trapping of domestic pets in the state. VFWD staff explained that there was no central database in the state for recording such events, although state law requires licensed trappers to report anytime someone’s pet is accidentally trapped in Vermont. Reports are also made to local police departments or not made at all when the traps are illegally set as some were in 2022.

September 20, 2022 warden report on an illegal trap that seriously injured a cat in Bellow Falls, Vermont.

Of the 13 reported cases, most involved foot-hold traps that left only minor injuries to dogs that were accompanied by their owners in most of the cases when they stepped into traps. Unfortunately in other cases, most often involving body-gripping traps that are intended to crush their victims, the pets died or suffered serious injuries. The most recent case involving a body-gripping trap occurred in December 2022 in South Corinth, when a resident saw her dog she was walking caught in an illegally set body-gripping trap. The animal died in the owners arms. This is the same style of trap that conforms to proposed “best management practices” (BMPs) VFWD is currently proposing as improvements to modern trapping.

Body-gripping trap that seriously injured cat in Bellow Falls, Vermont.

In another incident on October 31, 2022 police dispatchers received a call about a dead dog hanging in a tree in Underhill. Body-gripping traps set for fisher are placed at least 5 feet above the ground in trees to deter, but not prevent dog captures. The investigating warden stated, “Dog killed in legally set trap. No F&W violation.”

The 13 reported cases of a dog or cat in a trap in Vermont in 2022:

January 1, Lyndon: Dog’s paw injured in illegally set foot-hold trap set by a 13-year-old. No citation.

July 24, Hartford: Cat caught in cage trap. No injuries. No citation.

August 8, Bellows Falls: Cat seriously injured in illegally set body-gripping cat. Trapper not found. No citation.

August 26, Colchester: Cat caught in legally placed foot-hold trap. No injuries. No citation.

September 9, Bennington: Dog caught in illegally set foot-hold trap. No injuries. Trapper not found. No citation.

October 17, Lowell: Dog suffers minor injuries in foot-hold trap. Trapper cited for unrelated trapping violations.

October 31, Underhill: Dog killed in legally set body-gripping trap for fisher. No citation.

November 1, Starksboro: Dog caught in legally set foot-hold trap. No injuries. No citation.

November 29, Pownal: Dog caught in foot-hold trap. No details. Still under investigation.

December 8, Dog suffers minor injuries in illegally set foot-hold trap. Trapper not identified. No citation.

December 18, Windsor: Dog caught in legally set foot-hold trap. No injuries. No citation.

December 20, Corinth: Dog killed in illegally set body-gripping trap. Trapper not identified. Still under investigation.

December 26, Wardsboro: Dog caught in legally set foot-hold trap. No injuries. No citation.

VFWD records taken from licensed trapper surveys in 2017-2021 record 35 reports of incidental dog or cat captures, 25 dogs and 10 cats. The majority involved foot-hold traps that left only injuries, but 4 involved body-gripping traps with at least two being fatal. The recently released reports for 2022 of 13 pets being caught in traps is higher than the average for the 4 years previously recorded by VFWD.

Data collected from the state’s 289 licensed trappers, Courtesy Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department.

Current proposed improvements to trapping in Vermont would still allow body-gripping traps and only require traps on land to be set off of trails and roads 50 feet. The rules would exclude traps set underwater, sometimes referred to by trappers as drowning sets. These include a foot-hold trap set inches underwater when a beaver is the target species. The trap is connected to an anchored cable that drags the beaver underwater where they are eventually drowned. Body-gripping traps are also commonly used just under the surface of the water and will still be allowed to be used immediately off of roads and trails in Vermont.

A legal foot-hold trap used in a drowning set for beaver outside of Orange, Vermont

Beavers can hold their breath for up to 15 minutes, but VFWD’s proposed BMP improvements assure the public that the beaver, otter and fisher caught in improved BMP body-gripping traps like those set for beaver, otter and fisher, die within 5 minutes 70% of the time in experiments with live animals. These experiments are a necessary phase of BMP research according to VFWD.

December 2022 VFWD warden report an a illegal trap that caught a dog outside of Bennington, Vermont.

Will Vermont Fish & Wildlife’s proposed improvements to trapping end the incidental capture of dogs and cats in Vermont? Absolutely not. Between 2017 and 2022, over 60% of all reported domestic animal captures occurred in legally set traps and did not result in any violation of trapping laws. The data collected from licensed trappers reflects that accidentally catching dogs and cats is simply a reality of modern regulated trapping that no agency can promise will not occur as long as trapping is legal.

This companion animal was killed in an illegal body-gripping trap set in December 2022 in South Corinth, Vermont.

There is no such thing as a discriminating trap that always catches the animal it was intended for. Most of the dogs caught in foot-hold traps in Vermont escape uninjured, but body-gripping traps designed to kill (within 5 minutes) that will continue to be legally set for beaver, otter and fisher and remain a danger for our pets.

October 2022 report on trapping violations discovered during investigation of a dog caught in a foot-hold trap in Lowell, Vermont.

Please join Vermont Wolf Patrol in calling for an outright ban on the use of lethal body-gripping traps and drowning sets. These trapping methods are beyond any hope of improvement. These are systems designed to kill an animal while not damaging its fur. Vermont’s wildlife is far more valuable ecologically than it is for a trapper who’s lucky to get twenty bucks for a beaver with today’s fur prices. Please email Natural Resources Committee Chair, Senator Christopher Bray and VFWD.

A dog was caught in this foot-hold trap that was illegally set directly off a trail outside of Bennington, Vermont on September 9, 2022.

VFWD Trapping BMP Draft Recommendations and Stakeholder Recommendation Synopsies

Please email Vermont Fish & Wildlife: 

with the subject line “BMP Trapping Recommendations.”

To send comments to Chair of the Natural Resources Committee, Sen. Christopher Bray please email:

Coyote Hunting with Dogs Will Continue in Vermont… Only Regulated

Hound hunter outside of Addison, Vermont suspected of violating the moratorium on hunting coyotes with dogs January 14, 2023

Last year, Act 165 (S.281) was signed into law in Vermont creating a moratorium on hunting coyotes with dogs, effective July 1, 2022 (with some exceptions) until the Fish & Wildlife Board adopts rules regulating the practice. The first draft of those proposed regulations is out, after two working group meetings in January 2023 that included stakeholders (predominantly hound hunters) and Vermont Fish & Wildlife officials. The draft regulations will also be open to a public comment process with the possibility of other public meetings to solicit feedback and comments.

A Vermont hound hunter’s January 14, 2023 post on Facebook.

The proposed regulations for hunting coyotes with hounds would establish rules similar to those for other “game” animals in Vermont, including a season, but no bag limit. Currently, it is legal to hunt coyotes year-round in Vermont. Past efforts to establish a closed season for coyotes during pup-rearing (March-October) were defeated by the Fish & Wildlife Board in 2019.

Vermont Wolf Patrol has been monitoring the practice of coyote hunting with hounds nationwide for eight years. What we have documented in every state we have investigated (Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, Idaho, Montana, Pennsylvania and Vermont) is that inherent and inseparable from the practice are occasions when trained chase dogs attack, bite or maul the tired coyote. Some hound hunters will intentionally wound a coyote allowing their dogs a better chance at getting close and fighting with the wounded coyote.

Hound hunter Terance Wilbur of Wallingford, VT posted this picture on Facebook in January 2022.

The proposed regulations favor the sport of modern hound hunting and offer no change from past definitions of control. As is the case with bear hounds, coyote hounds where GPS collars that allow their handlers to see their course and direction. Shock or tone collars that are triggered remotely are argued to be a level of control. What the draft fails to address is, the inability of a hound handler to control their dog with either shock, tone or voice commands once the animal is out of eyesight which is common when hunting coyotes with hounds.

In Vermont, coyote hunting hounds have attacked people and pets when out of sight of their handlers. They’ve also trespassed where hunting was not allowed and invaded resident’s property without permission, despite the use of GPS and shock collars. The draft proposed rules would require maintaining a tracking log of dogs while afield, which is hardly a form of control.

The first draft of Vermont’s proposed regulations to hunt coyotes with dogs.

The proposed rules would also accommodate existing hound hunting practices such as not requiring a permit to hunt coyotes with hounds if you are a “sub-permittee.” Most coyote hunting with hounds is done with multiple hunters aiding and assisting from separate vehicles and snowmobiles and communicating via radio. The rules would only require the owner of the dogs being used to hunt coyote to possess a permit, but not anyone handling or transporting dogs involved in the hunt. Vermont Wolf Patrol believes every individual involved in a hunt should be licensed to hunt that species in that particular fashion. The working group is instead proposing that sub-permittees simply possess a valid hunting license.

Another photo shared by Vermonter Terance Wilbur on Facebook.

On January 5, 2023 Vermont Wolf Patrol wrote to the VFWD Commissioner’s office to ask for clarification on the current moratorium on hunting coyotes with dogs until regulations are adopted, noting the mention of “certain exceptions” in the language of Act 165. This is what we were told:

“Act 165, 2022, states “a person shall not pursue coyote with the aid of dogs, either for the training of dogs or for the taking of coyote, except that a person may pursue coyote with the aid of dogs in defense of a person or property if the person pursuing coyote with the aid of dogs: (1) is the landowner; or (2) has obtained a courtesy permission card from the landowner or landowner’s agent allowing the release of a dog onto the land for the purpose of pursuing coyote with the aid of dogs.”

The law does not require the Warden Service or the Department of Fish & Wildlife to grant an exception, and Act 165 did not require prior permission from anyone other than the landowner suffering damage. The Warden Service is not aware of any exceptions.”

On January 14, 2023 Vermont Wolf Patrol was in on an area where we documented coyote hunting with hounds in winter 2022 in Addison County and again encountered an active hound hunter. At approximately 730am we noticed a vehicle with a hound box driving south on state highway 22A. The vehicle pulled off on a rural road and soon after released three dogs which began running across fields along the road while the hunter continued driving slowly in his vehicle. When the individual noticed our vehicle further down the road and saw us filming, he quickly collected his dogs and sped away.

We do not know whether this individual was indeed hunting coyotes, because he was hunting with dogs in an area regularly hunted for coyotes with dogs, so we reported the incident to VFWD law enforcement.

January 9, 2023 letter from five members of the coyote hunting with dogs working group.

Vermont Wolf Patrol will be monitoring popular areas for coyote hunting with hounds across Vermont and asks anyone who sees any suspicious coyote hound hunting activity to contact Vermont Fish & Wildlife’s Operation Game Thief: