Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department Survey Shows Majority of Vermonters Oppose Trapping for Fun or Profit

It is legal to recreationally trap and sell fisher pelts from Vermont on the international fur market. Photo: Front Porch Forum

Last year, the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department (VFWD) contracted with a leading natural resource survey firm, Responsive Management, to conduct a survey of Vermont residents’ knowledge and opinions of the department and their current furbearer conservation efforts. On November 29, 2022 VFWD received the final telephone survey report, which was conducted in October. VFWD staff says they will be analyzing the results from this science-based research project for many months to come and that the findings will be, “used to inform VFWD current and future furbearer management and outreach efforts.”

VFWD’s key takeaways from the survey include the claim that the majority of Vermonters support regulated trapping. But when those same Vermonters were asked whether they supported trapping for fur for clothing, recreation or “to make money” the majority in all three categories opposed the practice with as high as 73% of those surveyed saying they opposed trapping for recreation.

Please view the complete survey below…

Another takeaway from the survey revealed that when asked about furbearer species in their area, over 70% of Vermonters said they enjoyed the presence of wildlife and when asked about population numbers being too high, too low or “about right,” the majority chose about right.

In questioning how Vermonters spend their time outdoors, 69% said they enjoyed hiking and using trails while only 4% said they trapped. This might explain why 13 companion animals were caught in traps set for wildlife in 2022. At least two died.

This survey leaves Vermont Wolf Patrol wondering. Why is the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department spending so much money and time trying to convince us that trapping in still an accepted practice? Current reforms (which would only be recommendations) would ask that trappers use only “best management practices” traps that have been proven in a laboratory setting to kill an animal within five minutes. We believe the vast majority of Vermonters are against such animal cruelty whether its for tradition, for profit or fun.

In January 2022, this fisher was found walking on a snowmobile trail with this trap on its face near Troy, Vermont. The trap was illegally set by a state contracted trapper who was later cited and fined $350 for “taking fisher out of season.”

Join Vermont Wolf Patrol in asking our elected representatives to introduce and support legislation which would ban trapping for fun and profit. Currently, a Vermont Fur Buyers License allows all licensed Vermont trappers to sell their trapped pelts on the international fur markets where the largest buyers are Russia and China.

For centuries, trappers in Vermont have participated in the international fur trade through the sale of trapped animals such as beaver and fisher (both species were historically wiped out in the state after centuries of unregulated trapping) Nowadays, a licensed trapper will be lucky to get $20 for a beaver pelt. Today’s fur market pays less than $10 for a coyote or fox pelt. Trappers contend they help manage “furbearer” populations, but most of today’s recreational and for profit trapper will only trap what they can sell.

Beavers, trapped for centuries are now being recognized as ecological engineers who can aid in our fight against climate change.

We recognize that trapping might have once played an integral part in Vermont’s history, but today, many Vermonters believe the native animals that have been trapped and sold for hundreds of years, are far more ecologically valuable alive than as a few bucks in a trappers pocket.

Legislation ending recreational and for profit trapping would hardly have an impact on Vermont trappers. According to another Responsive Management survey and reported by the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies in their conservation brief, “Regulated Trapping and the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation” regulated fur trapping generates very little money for the individual trapper (~$1,700/year) and in fact 80% of trappers surveyed say, “the income is not at all important.”

Vermonters! Please contact your elected officials and let them know you support a ban on recreational and for profit trapping.

Don’t forget! You can also let VTFWD know that allowing an animal up to five minutes to die in a Vermont trap does not make it humane!  with the subject line “BMP Trapping Recommendations.”