Trapper Hired by VT Agency of Transportation Was Cited in 2022 After Live Fisher Was Found with Trap on Its Face

A fisher found walking on a Vermont snowmobile trail in January 2022 with this trap on his face. Current VTFWD trapping recommendations would allow animals up to five minutes to die in such traps in order to be considered humane.

On January 21, 2022 Vermont’s Agency of Transportation, (VTrans) signed a contract with two trappers to kill beavers and other wildlife that damage or threaten culverts and roads across Vermont. VTrans is the public agency responsible for the maintenance of a statewide transportation network that includes bridges and highways and like all Vermonters, we all grateful to them for that. Unfortunately, the agency also employs trappers who use cruel body-gripping and foothold traps that are meant to either drown or kill their victims in ways that often last for minutes.

In October 2022, one of the two VTrans contracted trappers was dispatched to place traps for beaver outside of Orange, Vermont where beavers have sometimes blocked culverts under state highway 302. Landowners and caretakers for the land who were on site alerted VTrans employees present that the private property was posted closed to trapping, but were later told by both VTrans and Vermont Fish & Wildlife (VTFW) wardens that a right of way purchased in 1967 allowed VTrans to trap up to 50 feet off of the highway.

Underwater foothold trap meant to drown beaver set outside of Orange, Vermont in October 2022.

A public records request was made by Vermont Wolf Patrol that identified the trappers hired by VTrans and additional investigating uncovered two incidents involving the trapper that were investigated by wardens in the last year, one resulting in a citation and fine.

On January 25, 2022 a VTFWD warden was alerted to an incident outside of Troy, Vermont involving a fisher that was found by a snowmobiler with a trap on its face. The wardens report details the incident when the individual first saw the fisher walking with the trap stuck to his face, saying they were able to pick up the animal. After being unable to contact VTFWD wardens, the individual shot the fisher because they believed it to be suffering. The warden later reported that the fishers injuries were not survivable.

The warden’s January 2022 report.

In May, the same VTrans trapper reported to VTFWD that they had trapped a river otter out of season in a culvert trap set for nuisance beaver outside of Jay, Vermont. Such instances when a non-target animal is caught in a trap are referred to as “incidental catches” and are allowable by law. Body-gripping traps such as those used by VTrans trappers are also responsible for killing at least two Vermont pets in 2022 according to VTFWD law enforcement.

Vermont Wolf Patrol is asking VTrans to observe a moratorium on the use of body-gripping and foot-hold traps until better management practices can be put in place that include the use of nonlethal deterrents such as beaver “deceivers” and baffles. We believe that the use of traps that take up to five minutes to kill their victims is not the solution to any wildlife conflict in Vermont.

Vermont’s wildlife deserves better than this. This is a “humane trap” according to VTFWD in their current draft reccomendations to improve trapping standards in Vermont.

Please contact Vermont’s Secretary of Transportation and let him know you do not support the use of cruel and inhumane traps in Vermont!

Secretary of Transportation
Joe Flynn
219 N. Main Street, Barre, VT 05641