“Take” and “Taking” mean pursuing, shooting, hunting, killing, capturing, trapping, disturbing, harrying, worrying, wounding, snaring or netting fish, birds or other animals. It includes placing, setting, drawing or using any net or other device commonly used to take fish or wild animals, whether they result in taking or not. It includes every attempt to take and every act of assistance to another person in taking or attempting to take fish or wild animals.
It is illegal to park, drive or camp on another person’s land without permission of the landowner. You must immediately leave the property when the landowner requests it, whether the property is posted or not. Roadside or public highway turnouts are not legal for overnight camping.
It is illegal to bring live wild mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, or fish into Vermont without previously obtaining an importation permit from the Fish & Wildlife Department.
It is illegal to intentionally interfere with someone who is lawfully taking fish or wild animals, or to disrupt the taking of any fish or wild animal by harassing or disturbing the fish or animal.
No one may legally travel on foot within the right-of-way or cross boundary fences along interstate highways. Rest areas and pullouts are NOT access areas for hunting, fishing or entering on adjacent lands unless posted as such.
Law prohibits obstructing private driveways, barways, or gateways with motor vehicles. People shall not drive over private lands or enter these lands for the purpose of camping without the permission of the landowner.
All season dates in this book are inclusive.
A person who drives, transports, scouts, counsels, or otherwise aids another person in a violation, or who knowingly possesses, consumes, or otherwise shares in the proceeds of such a violation by receiving or possessing fish or wild animals, or any parts thereof, shall be punished as a principal.
Damage to Fish & Wildlife Property
A person who damages or destroys a wildlife facsimile (decoy) owned by the Fish & Wildlife Department shall pay restitution for its replacement or repair.
Whoever intentionally or recklessly damages, injures, interferes with, or destroys any property, real or personal, belonging to or controlled by the state for fish, game, or wildlife purposes shall be fined not more than $2,500 and pay restitution to repair or replace the damaged property.
Fines & Penalties
A person who violates state law or regulation while taking, possessing, transporting, buying or selling big game or Threatened or Endangered Species will face penalties that include fines, imprisonment, license revocation and forfeiture of equipment used in the violation. Violators may be fined up to $1,000, for the first conviction. Upon a second and all subsequent convictions, the violator shall be fined not more than $4,000 nor less than $2,000. Violators may also be imprisoned for not more than 60 days, or may face both fine and imprisonment and restitution payments to the Fish and Wildlife Fund. License revocation is based on the point system (10 V.S.A. Sect. 4502).
Reimbursement for Illegally Taken Fish or Wildlife
In addition to any court penalties, anyone convicted of illegally taking, destroying, or possessing wild animals must pay, as restitution, into the Fish and Wildlife Fund no more than the following amounts:
Big Game up to $2,000.00
Species up to $2,000.00
Small Game up to $500.00
Fish up to $50.00
In lieu of criminal prosecution for injuring or taking Threatened or Endangered Species, the Agency of Natural Resources can pursue civil enforcement. Civil penalties are capped at $42,500 for a single violation. The complete list of threatened and endangered species is available on the Fish & Wildlife website (www.vtfishandwildlife.com). The list includes: lake sturgeon, stonecat, timber rattlesnake, bald eagle, spruce grouse, beach heather, great laurel, Canada lynx, marten, little brown bat and Indiana bat. Federal penalties also may apply.
Hunting, fishing or trapping on properly posted land is illegal without written permission. This includes land posted for hunting, fishing or trapping by permission only. In order to be properly posted, the landowner must file with the town clerk and the Fish & Wildlife Department. See 10 V.S.A., Sect. 5201-5206.
Whether the property is posted or not, a hunter or angler shall show their license if requested by the landowner.
It is illegal to damage or remove posters prohibiting hunting, fishing or trapping.
A person must leave the land immediately on demand of the owner, whether the land is posted or not.
Posting & Permission Only Signs
A landowner, or a person having the exclusive right to take game on land or the waters thereon may maintain signs stating that hunting, fishing, or trapping or any combination of the three is prohibited or by permission only.
See 10 V.S.A. Appendix Sect. 14c for fish stocking requirements to post against fishing.
Permission Only signs shall state the owner’s name and a method by which to contact the owner or a person authorized to provide permission to hunt, fish or trap on the property.
Posting and Permission Only Signs
- The owner or person posting the land, shall annually record the posting at the town clerk’s office for a fee of $5.00.
- Signs must be not less than 8 ½ inches by 11 inches.
- Lettering and background on the signs must be of contrasting colors.
- Signs must be maintained at all times and dated each year.
- Signs must be erected on or near all boundaries, at each corner, and no more than 400 feet apart.
- Signs shall not be considered void if other language is added, as long as a reasonable person would understand that hunting, fishing or trapping are prohibited.
Location of Posting Signs
Posting signs and “By Permission Only” signs must be erected on or near all the boundaries, at each corner and not over 400 feet apart.
A property owner may establish a 500-foot Safety Zone around an occupied dwelling, residence, barn, stable or other building with signs provided by the Fish & Wildlife Department. These signs shall be placed at each corner of the safety zone and no more than 200 feet apart. Shooting is prohibited in the Safety Zone and no wild animal may be taken within it without permission from the owner.
Falconry is legal by special permit. Contact Fish & Wildlife for information at (802) 828-1483. Only the State permit is required.
It is illegal to buy or sell a wild bird, cottontail rabbit, snowshoe hare, or gray squirrel.
The only time it is legal to buy or sell big game or the meat of big game within the state is during the open season and for 20 days after the season ends. The meat of big game animals is not to be bought or sold to be transported out of the state. It is illegal to buy or sell anadromous Atlantic salmon taken in the Connecticut River Basin and/or to buy or sell wild turkey at any time.
Other than the meat mentioned above, a person may buy or sell at any time:
- The head, hide and hoofs of legally taken deer or moose; or
- The head, hide, paws and internal organs of a legally taken black bear.
Anyone wishing to engage in the business of buying furs or skins of furbearers or deer hides must have a valid Fur Buyer’s License. Contact Fish & Wildlife.
International trade in hides, claws, skulls, or teeth of black bear is regulated by federal law and international treaty. If you plan to sell bear hide or parts outside of the United States, you must obtain an export permit (for a fee) from the Federal Wildlife Permit Office, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Office of Management Authority, 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Arlington, VA 22203, 1-800-358-2104. These products must be shipped through one of eleven designated ports (Boston is the nearest), or through another port under special permit (for a fee) from the same office. You do not need export permits and declarations to sell to domestic or foreign buyers within Vermont or the rest of the United States, or to sell through brokers who possess the necessary permits.
Game suppers may be held at any time by a church, volunteer fire department, fish and game club, or other nonprofit organization with a permit issued by a State Game Warden.
Wild animals and fish legally taken in this state, or another state or country, may be transported and sold as part of a game supper authorized by permit. Big game provided by the Fish & Wildlife Department may also be sold at such suppers. Migratory waterfowl, cottontail rabbits, snowshoe hare, and anadromous salmon may not be sold. Permits for game suppers must state the name of the organization holding the supper, as well as the date and location of the supper. A permit needs to be applied for at least 10 days before the date of the supper. Contact the Law Enforcement Division for a permit application at 802-828-1483.
Transportation of fish or game is only permitted in the presence of the person who took that fish or game.
A person shall not transport fish or game:
- Taken by someone else unless the person who took the fish or game accompanies it;
- During closed season for that fish or game;
- If it exceeds the number or limit of fish or game that may legally be taken in a day.
However, a person traveling on land between a temporary abode such as a hunting camp and his or her home may transport in one day the number of fish or game that may legally be taken in two days.
Public Use of Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department Lands
Vermont Fish & Wildlife owns 92 Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs), two conservation camps, five fish culture stations, and other conservation lands totaling more than 135,000 acres throughout Vermont. A rule enacted in 2013 allows the department to better protect the public’s use of and interests in these lands. WMAs were created for the conservation of fish, wildlife and their habitats, and to provide people with opportunities to enjoy these resources through fish- and wildlife-based outdoor activities such as fishing, hunting, trapping and wildlife viewing and photography. Wildlife Management Area maps are available at www.vtfishandwildlife.com or at VT Fish & Wildlife District Offices.
Commercial activity means any activity or service that produces income for any person, group, business or entity, including any activity or service by any non-profit entity where a fee is required or requested.
The following activities are authorized activities on all lands under this rule:
- Hunting, fishing, trapping, target shooting at designated shooting ranges,
- Fish and wildlife viewing and photography;
- Boating, including launching and landing, for fish-based and wildlife-based activities where not otherwise prohibited by any other relevant regulations or statutes;
- Dispersed, wildlife-based pedestrian activities including walking, snowshoeing, swimming, cross-country skiing, and collection of shed antlers;
- Non-commercial picking of berries, nuts, fungi and other wild edibles except ginseng;
- Guiding for purposes of fishing, hunting and trapping;
- Camping for purposes of hunting, fishing or trapping:
- Non-primitive camping with a portable shelter equipped with a self-contained, portable, sanitary toilet on sites designated by the department for this purpose, for no more than 16 days during the periods of May 1-31, September 1 through December 15; See WMA maps for designated camp site locations on www.vtfishandwildlife.com
- Primitive camping (occupying a site in a natural environment with no developed facilities, leaving the site in its original condition so there is no or minimal evidence of human visitation) on the following WMAs for no more than 3 consecutive nights; Camp sites must be at least 200 feet from any waterbody, property line, or road within the following WMAs:
Arthur Davis, Bald Hill, Bill Sladyk, Les Newell, Pine Mountain, Plymsbury, Roy Mountain, Steam Mill Brook, Victory Basin, West Mountain.
- The operation of any ATV, UTV, or any wheeled or tracked motorized vehicle not registered for public highway use, except as provided under special permit from the Commissioner to accommodate a person with a qualified disability pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act;
- Use of motorized vehicles except on roads specifically designated for such use (see WMA maps) on www.vtfishandwildlife.com;
- Snowmobiling except as approved by the department and on designated corridors (see WMA maps);
- Horseback riding, dog sledding, non-motorized cycle riding, or use of motorized vehicles except on designated corridors (see WMA maps)
- Draft and pack animals, except for retrieval of legally harvested moose, deer and black bear during the respective hunting season(s);
- Commercial activities, except for guiding for purposes of fishing, hunting and trapping, or wildlife viewing;
- Artifact or fossil collection;
- Fires except in emergency situations, or for non-primitive and primitive camping as specified in this rule;
- Abandoning, or disposing of any animal carcass, or their parts, except that portions of fish or game legally harvested on the property may be deposited on site during routine field processing for preservation and transport;
- Construction or placement of temporary or permanent structures, except for tree stands and ground blinds as specified for use on State Wildlife Management Areas under General Hunting Information, and duck blinds as specified under the Game Bird Hunting section of this guidebook;
- Collection of plants, trees, evergreen brush or limbs, except wild edibles when allowed under of this rule;
- Use of any fireworks or pyrotechnic devices except signal flares in an emergency situation;
- Feeding or baiting of wildlife;
- Taking of fish from a fish culture station except during special events established by the department, including but not limited to fishing derbies, clinics and educational events;
- Entering within 500 feet of any building or other associated infrastructure that is associated with a department fish culture station or conservation camp during times of the day other than those times posted for public use;
- Parking of vehicles except while engaged in an Authorized Activity;
- All other activities not specifically authorized by this rule, or authorized in writing by the Commissioner including, but not limited to: para-sailing, hang-gliding, recreational rock climbing, and geocaching.
The department maintains two publicly accessible shooting ranges – at Hammond’s Cove in Hartland and West Mountain in Ferdinand. Users of these ranges shall:
- Have a valid Vermont hunting, fishing or combination license as required for individuals 15 years of age and older, unless attending an event sponsored by the Department;
- Be limited to one unlicensed visitor and shall be held accountable for the visitor. All visitors shall be required to purchase his or her own license after 3 visits in a year.
- Obey all other range rules pertaining to safety and hours of usage, including instructions given by the range officer.
- Avoid the use of prohibited articles such as tracers, armor piercing or steel core ammunition, fireworks, pyrotechnics, or any other explosive targets, including tannerite. Firing more than one round per second is prohibited at Hammond’s Cove. Alcohol, tobacco products, and pets are also prohibited on the range.
- Be accompanied by an individual over the age of 18 if aged 15 or younger, unless at an official department-sponsored event.
The Hammonds Cove Shooting Range is open to the public April 1 to December 14, Thursday through Monday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., except Sundays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The range is closed on state and federal holidays. The West Mountain Shooting Range is open to the public April 16 to December 14, weekdays from 8 a.m. to sunset, and weekends from 9 a.m. to sunset.