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Regulations and Definitions Overview

In understanding the rules governing outdoor activities, it's essential to grasp the definitions and regulations that shape lawful conduct. Here's an overview:

Take and Taking

The terms "take" and "taking" encompass a range of actions, including pursuing, hunting, trapping, and capturing fish, birds, or other animals. This definition extends to activities such as disturbing, harassing, or snaring wildlife. It encompasses not only direct actions but also the use of devices like nets, irrespective of whether they result in successful capture.

Camping and Trespass

Unauthorized parking, driving, or camping on private land without the landowner's permission is illegal. Upon request from the landowner, individuals must promptly vacate the premises, regardless of whether the property is posted as private or not. Overnight camping along roadside or public highway turnouts is also prohibited.

Importation of Wildlife

Bringing live wild mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, or fish into Vermont necessitates prior authorization through an importation permit from the Fish & Wildlife Department. This regulation aims to manage and prevent the introduction of non-native species that could disrupt local ecosystems.

Interfering With Hunters, Anglers, and Trappers

It is unlawful to intentionally disrupt lawful hunting, fishing, or trapping activities by harassing or disturbing wildlife or those engaged in these activities. Such interference undermines the rights of individuals to participate in lawful outdoor pursuits.

Interstate Highways and Private Lands

Traversal along interstate highway right-of-ways or crossing boundary fences is prohibited. Rest areas and pullouts along these highways do not grant access for hunting, fishing, or entry onto adjacent lands unless explicitly designated for such purposes. Additionally, obstructing private driveways or entering private lands for camping without landowner permission is against Vermont law.

Season Dates and Violations

All season dates specified are inclusive. Violations of regulations, including aiding or benefiting from unlawful activities, are subject to punishment. Individuals found to be involved in violations may face penalties as principals.

Damage to Fish & Wildlife Property

Damaging or destroying wildlife facsimiles owned by the Fish & Wildlife Department requires restitution for repair or replacement. Intentional or reckless damage to state-owned property designated for fish, game, or wildlife purposes is punishable by fines and restitution to cover repair or replacement costs.

Reimbursement for Illegal Taking of Fish or Wildlife

Individuals convicted of unlawfully taking, destroying, or possessing wild animals face both court penalties and restitution requirements. Here are the specified reimbursement amounts:

Restitution Guidelines

Big Game - $2,000.00

Convictions related to the illegal taking, destruction, or possession of big game animals incur a maximum restitution amount of $2,000.00 per offense. This includes species such as deer, moose, and bear.

Endangered Threatened Species - $2,000.00

For violations involving endangered or threatened species, the maximum restitution amount is set at $2,000.00. Protecting these vulnerable species is paramount, and violators are held accountable through significant restitution fees.

Small Game - $500.00

Unlawful actions pertaining to small game animals, which encompass a variety of non-big game species, result in a maximum restitution fee of $500.00 per offense. These may include rabbits, squirrels, and upland birds.

Fish - $50.00

Illegal activities involving fish, such as unauthorized harvesting or possession, carry a restitution requirement of up to $50.00 per offense. This amount is specified to address infractions related to fishery conservation and management.

Purpose of Restitution

Restitution payments contribute to the fish and wildlife fund, supporting conservation efforts and habitat management initiatives. By imposing these financial penalties, the legal system aims to deter illegal activities while providing resources for the protection and enhancement of wildlife populations and their habitats.

Threatened and Endangered Species Enforcement

Engaging in activities that harm Vermont's Threatened or Endangered Species carries severe legal consequences. Here's what you need to know about the enforcement measures:

Legal Ramifications

Criminal Prosecution

Individuals who take or injure a Vermont Threatened or Endangered Species may face criminal prosecution for a big game violation. Criminal penalties can include:

  • Up to 60 days of incarceration.
  • Fines ranging from $500 to $2,000.
  • A mandatory $2,000 payment to the fish and wildlife fund.
  • Restitution costs to compensate for damages.

Civil Enforcement

The agency may opt for civil enforcement actions, imposing penalties capped at $42,500 for a single violation. These civil penalties are separate from criminal prosecution and serve as additional deterrents against harming protected species.

List of Threatened and Endangered Species

The Fish & Wildlife website provides a comprehensive list of threatened and endangered species. Some examples include:

  • Lake Sturgeon
  • Channel Darter
  • Eastern Sand Darter
  • Stonecat
  • Timber Rattlesnake
  • Spruce Grouse
  • Beach Heather
  • Great Laurel
  • Canada Lynx
  • Marten
  • Little Brown Bat
  • Indiana Bat

Federal Penalties

In addition to state-level enforcement, federal penalties may also apply for violations involving Threatened or Endangered Species. These penalties can further escalate the consequences for harming protected wildlife.

Posted Property Regulations

Under Fish & Wildlife Law, strict regulations govern activities on posted property. Here's what you need to know:

Prohibited Activities

  • Hunting, Fishing, or Trapping: Engaging in these activities on properly posted land without written permission is illegal. This prohibition extends to land posted for hunting, fishing, or trapping by permission only.

Posting Requirements

  • Records and Documentation: Properly posted land must have records filed with both the town clerk and the Fish & Wildlife Department. This ensures transparency and legal recognition of the posted status.

Compliance Measures

  • License Presentation: Regardless of whether the property is posted, hunters or anglers must present their licenses upon request by the landowner. This requirement underscores the importance of transparency and adherence to regulations.

  • Poster Protection: It is unlawful to damage or remove posters that prohibit hunting, fishing, or trapping. Respect for property rights and adherence to posted regulations are paramount.

Landowner Rights

  • Immediate Departure: Upon demand by the landowner, individuals must promptly vacate the premises, irrespective of whether the land is posted or not. Respecting landowner requests is essential for maintaining positive relationships and upholding property rights.

Legal References

  • Title 10, V.S.A., Sections 5201 to 5206: These sections of Vermont's statutes outline the legal framework concerning posted property and associated regulations.

Posting and Permission Only Signs Regulations

To regulate access to private land for hunting, fishing, or trapping, specific guidelines govern the posting of signs and permissions. Here's a breakdown of the regulations:

Authorization for Posting Signs

  • Landowner Rights: Landowners or individuals with exclusive rights to fish or hunt on the land may install signs prohibiting or restricting hunting, fishing, or trapping activities.

  • Fish Stocking Requirements: Refer to 10 V.S.A. Appendix Sect. 14 for specific fish stocking requirements that necessitate posting against fishing activities.

Content and Requirements for Permission Only Signs

  • Owner Identification: Permission Only signs must include the owner's name and a contact method for obtaining permission to engage in hunting, fishing, or trapping on the property.

  • Annual Recording: The landowner or person posting the land must annually record the posting at the town clerk's office for a fee of $5.00.

  • Sign Specifications:

    • Signs must measure at least 8½ inches by 11 inches.
    • Lettering and background must have contrasting colors for visibility.
    • Signs must be maintained year-round and dated annually for verification.
  • Placement Guidelines:

    • Signs must be erected on or near all property boundaries, at each corner, and spaced no more than 400 feet apart.
    • Additional language does not void the signs as long as it conveys the prohibition of hunting, fishing, or trapping clearly to a reasonable person.

Safety Zone Establishment

  • Safety Zone Definition: Property owners have the authority to establish a 500-foot Safety Zone around occupied dwellings or buildings.

  • Signage Requirements:

    • Signs provided by the Fish & Wildlife Department must be placed at each corner of the Safety Zone and spaced no more than 200 feet apart.
  • Prohibited Activities: Shooting is prohibited within the Safety Zone, and no wild animals may be taken within it without the owner's permission.

Regulations on Sale or Purchase of Fish and Game

The sale and purchase of fish and game are subject to specific regulations to ensure sustainable practices and legal compliance. Here's what you need to know:

Sale of Fish

  • Restricted Species: Salmon, trout, lake trout, walleye, northern pike, muskellunge, black bass, and other specified fish cannot be bought or sold if taken in Vermont or imported from regions where their sale is prohibited. Exceptions are fish reared in licensed propagation farms within the state.

  • Fish Buyer Permit: Individuals intending to buy fish for resale must obtain a Fish Buyer Permit issued by the commissioner.

Game Suppers

  • Permissible Events: Game suppers can be organized by nonprofit entities such as churches, volunteer fire departments, or fish and game clubs, provided they obtain a permit from a state game warden.

  • Authorized Sale: Wild animals and fish legally harvested in Vermont or elsewhere can be transported and sold as part of a permitted game supper. Big game provided by the Fish & Wildlife Department may also be sold at such events.

  • Prohibited Species: Certain species, including migratory waterfowl, cottontail rabbits, snowshoe hare, and anadromous salmon, are not eligible for sale at game suppers.

  • Permit Requirements:

    • Permit applications must be submitted at least 10 days before the scheduled supper date.
    • Permits must specify the name of the organizing entity, as well as the date and location of the event.
  • Application Process: To obtain a permit for a game supper, contact the Law Enforcement Division of the Fish & Wildlife Department for the necessary application forms and procedures.

Regulations on Transportation of Fish or Game

Transporting fish or game is subject to strict guidelines to ensure lawful and responsible practices. Here's an overview of the regulations:

General Transportation Rules

  • Accompanied by the Taker: Fish or game can only be transported in the presence of the person who harvested it. If someone else took the fish or game, they must accompany it during transportation.

  • Closed Season Prohibition: Transportation of fish or game is prohibited during closed seasons for the respective species.

  • Daily Limit Compliance: Fish or game cannot be transported if it exceeds the legal daily limit set for that species.

  • Exception for Temporary Abode Travel: A person traveling between a temporary abode (e.g., hunting camp) and their home may transport in one day the legal limit of fish or game that can be taken in two days.

Specific Regulations for Water Transportation

  • Daily Limit Cap: While on the waters of the state, individuals are restricted from transporting more than one day's limit of fish, unless the fish is frozen, processed, and packaged for storage.

Public Use Regulations for Fish & Wildlife Lands

Vermont Fish & Wildlife manages extensive lands to conserve wildlife habitats and provide recreational opportunities. Here are the regulations governing public use:

Authorized Activities

  • Hunting, Fishing, and Trapping: Allowed in accordance with Vermont Fish & Wildlife laws and regulations. Check WMA maps or visit www.vtfishandwildlife.com for more details.

  • Wildlife Viewing and Photography: Encouraged to enjoy and appreciate wildlife in their natural habitats.

  • Boating: Permitted for fish- and wildlife-based activities, subject to any relevant regulations.

  • Pedestrian Activities: Walking, snowshoeing, swimming, cross-country skiing, and collecting shed antlers are allowed for wildlife-based recreation.

  • Berry Picking: Noncommercial picking of berries, nuts, fungi, and other wild edibles is permitted, excluding ginseng.

  • Guiding: Guiding for fishing, hunting, and trapping activities is allowed.

  • Camping: Camping for hunting, fishing, or trapping purposes is permitted, with specific guidelines for nonprimitive and primitive camping. Refer to WMA maps for designated campsite locations.

Prohibited Activities

  • Motorized Vehicles: Operation of ATVs, UTVs, or other motorized vehicles not registered for public highway use is prohibited, except under special permit or on designated corridors.

  • Snowmobiling: Generally not allowed except on approved corridors designated by the department.

  • Horseback Riding and Dog Sledding: Not permitted except on designated corridors.

  • Commercial Activities: Commercial activities, except guiding for fishing, hunting, and trapping, or wildlife viewing, are prohibited.

  • Artifact Collection: Collecting artifacts or fossils is prohibited.

  • Fires: Fires are generally prohibited except in emergency situations or for authorized camping.

  • Wildlife Feeding: Feeding or baiting of wildlife is prohibited, except as otherwise authorized by law.

  • Fish Culture Stations: Taking fish from a fish culture station is prohibited, except during special events established by the department.

  • Building Structures: Construction or placement of structures, except tree stands and ground blinds as specified, is prohibited.

  • Fireworks: Use of fireworks or pyrotechnic devices, except signal flares in emergencies, is prohibited.

  • Other Prohibited Activities: Various activities including entering restricted areas, recreational rock climbing, and geocaching are prohibited unless authorized in writing by the commissioner.

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Disclaimer:

The legal advice provided on Wild Advisor Pro is intended as a summary of the hunting, camping, hiking, and fishing laws and regulations and does not constitute legal language or professional advice. We make every effort to ensure the information is accurate and up to date, but it should not be relied upon as legal authority. For the most current and comprehensive explanation of the laws and regulations, please consult the official government websites or a qualified legal professional. Wild Advisor Pro is not responsible for any misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the information presented and shall not be held liable for any losses, damages, or legal disputes arising from the use of this summary information. Always check with the appropriate governmental authorities for the latest information regarding outdoor regulations and compliance.