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Message from the Commissioner

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When last year’s mild winter ended and the summer-like spring approached, many of us wondered what the fishing and hunting seasons would bring. Would the streams, still bearing the remnants from the previous year’s storms, support the kind of fishing opportunities to which we’ve become accustomed, or would the impact be as we feared?

Fortunately, many trout populations, which have evolved to cope with the worst Mother Nature can throw at them, found havens in the downed trees and tangled branches still in evidence, and survived in the scoured waterways that have carved our deep valleys. Anglers reported quality fishing in reaches of river that were left undisturbed after the severe flooding.

And how would wildlife respond to the last two years that brought us the Tale of Two Winters? While 2011 saw the landscape hammered with deep, late snow, 2012 brought us one of the mildest winters on record. Many dubbed the winter of 2012 as “the 100 days of November,” and we expect wildlife populations to rebound quite well, particularly deer.

The department met its own share of obstacles this past year. Many of our central office staff were scattered to temporary offices across the state in the wake of Tropical Storm Irene. Working in make-do conditions, they nevertheless continued to keep the department running and attended to the essential functions that protect the resources of the state. Despite the upheaval, we found inspiration in our circumstances, and spent the year turning disadvantage into opportunity.

Some of the innovations we put into place are noted in this lawbook. This includes the new Conservation ID card and the electronic Point of Sale system which will replace the need for cumbersome paper license applications, and allow our license agents state-of-the-art ease in processing your license renewals as well as allow you to easily purchase your 2013 license online.

We also worked with the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Board to create new a new bear tag, extend the bear hunting season, extend the hare season, and update trapping regulations, all of which will offer sportsmen additional opportunities this year. And we’ve welcomed a much-anticipated deer biologist, Adam Murkowski, who shares his insights on managing the deer herd..

As we approach the first snows of 2013, the central office staff is settling into our new permanent home in the National Life Building in Montpelier and looking forward to the challenges of the year ahead. I hope you will have the opportunity to visit us and become familiar with our new layout. But I also hope this year you will take the opportunity to explore some new challenges of your own: take a bow hunter course or earn a trapper certification, learn to fly fish if you haven’t already, or help with a scientific survey our staff conducts. All of these you can find on our website: And to all you kids out there: take your parents fishing! Sometimes they just need a break.

I encourage you to think beyond the boundaries of your usual outdoor experiences, and participate in our other fish and wildlife activities that are afforded here in Vermont. I promise–you’ll be glad you did.

Patrick Berry – Commissioner


Regulations in red are new this year.

Purple text indicates an important note.

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