Vermont Adds Separate Bear License

Vermont FWD, Bear Hunting Magazine

The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department has some new rules going into effect as of July 1, 2013 that pertain to bears and bear hunting in the state. One new law bans people from intentionally feeding bears and prohibits killing nuisance bears without first taking reasonable non-lethal measures. It will also end the department’s practice of reimbursing non-farmers for bear damage to crops, livestock and bees. Their goals is to discourage humans from encouraging bad bear behavior.

An existing law prohibits killing bears that have been attracted to artificial bait or food, such as bird seed. Reasonable non-lethal measures include preventative aversions, such as installing electric fencing and properly securing food and trash, as well as reactionary steps, like scaring bears with horns or firecrackers.

The law includes an exemption that allows bears to be killed in situations when human life is in danger, such as if a bear has broken into a building, or if a bear is damaging corn fields. The department will continue to reimburse bear damage to residents who earn at least 50% of their income through farming.

Vermont’s bear population is currently estimated at about 6,000 bears, the high end of the state’s target range, and the state is working to curb those numbers.

To help bring the state's bear population into check, the department is increasing the bear hunting season by four days this year and requesting hunters buy a $5 hunting license specific to bears. Bear hunting was previously lumped in a broader hunting license. By making it a separate license, the department will be able to gather better information, including how many people are hunting bears and where.

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