The trapping rules in Vermont are designed to protect nontarget species, avoid overharvesting, and to ensure fur-bearing animals are taken as humanely and expeditiously as possible.

Being a trapper requires understanding not only the techniques and equipment used for trapping individual species, but also the regulations behind their use. It also demands vigilance: trappers are required to visit their traps often to dispatch or release any animal they catch.This means daily, unless the traps are in water or under ice, when they must be checked every three days.

This page contains general and species-specific information on the rules trappers must follow. More detailed information is available, at Vermont Guide to Hunting, Fishing and Trapping Laws.

Note: Trapping in Wildlife Management Unit E requires setting traps under special restrictions designed to avoid taking Canada Lynx.
read the regulation
See species for more specific information:

 

General Rules

Trapping in Vermont requires permission from landowners and you must have your name and address on your traps.

Before you set a trap for a fur-bearing animal, you must notify the property owner of your intentions, where you plan to set the trap, and secure his/her permission before you do. A respectful approach is encouraged. Additionally, property owners may at any time grant or refuse permission or revoke permission previously granted.

Additionally, if you’re trapping on someone else’s property, you must have your name and address clearly stamped or engraved in an indelible way on a tag attached to all traps. If these will be used below the ice, they must be visible from above.

Trapping season dates must be carefully followed.

It is illegal, without department permission, to possess a fur-bearing animal outside the legal season or to have the skin or fur of an animal unlawfully taken. Also, you may not set a trap between December 31 and the following fourth Saturday in October unless the trap is in the water, under the ice, or on a float in the water.

Body gripping traps require special conditions for their use.

A body gripping trap with a jaw spread over eight inches measured inside the jaws must be set five feet or more above the ground, or in the water. If in the water, these must be checked every three days.

Additional restrictions on using body gripping traps apply depending on the Wildlife Management Unit you are trapping in (e.g., WMU E - lynx regulation), the season and/or the species you are targeting (e.g. beaver and muskrat trapping in March).

Certain traps and methods of trapping are prohibited.

Toothed foothold traps or snares are illegal in Vermont. Also, prohibited are cutting, digging, smoking, using chemicals, poisons, or mechanical devices to remove a fur-bearing animal from its den.


Beaver and Muskrat

When trapping beaver or muskrat, you may not disturb or destroy its house or den.

Nor can you place a trap inside or at the entrance. You may set a trap above the water within 10 ft of a beaver dam or house from 4th Saturday in October through the last day of February. Except when setting a trap during the season, it is unlawful to interfere with dams, dens, or houses of beaver except upon prior written approval from the Commissioner.

When trapping muskrat:

  • Between March 1 and March 31, body gripping traps are restricted to 5 inches or less.

When trapping beaver between March 1 and March 31, body gripping traps shall:

  • Have a parallel trigger and trigger stop. Acceptable trigger stops include twisted wire, cable ties, wire wrap, or welded bead. The trigger should be offset at least 8 inches from one side of the trap and be no longer than 6 1/2 inches. Trigger wires must be joined together.
  • Include tension adjustable, squarenotch trigger brackets. Four-way and/or V-notch triggers are illegal to use.

Bobcat, Otter, and Fisher

When trapping bobcat, otter, and fish, you may not possess, transport or buy or sell skins unless they have been properly tagged and marked.

  • To do so, you must notify authorized department staff within 48 hours of the close of the season and present pelts to them for tagging. You will also need to surrender the carcasses at the time of tagging.
  • The tags must stay on the pelts until they are tanned. You may not transport pelts out of Vermont until they have been officially tagged.

To avoid incidental bobcat harvest during the remainder of fisher season:

  • You must not set a body gripping trap with a jaw spread over 6 inches measured inside the jaws unless the trap is set 5 or more feet above the ground, or in the water from December 17 to December 31, both dates inclusive.