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.