Vermont bear tooth rule requirements enforced

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A new rule passed in 2017 by the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Board requires hunters to collect and submit a pre-molar bear tooth within 48 hours of shooting a bear. The submission must be to a game warden or other department official. The mandatory collection, created with the advice of the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department, was intended to increase compliance and improve data collection on the important species. Failure to do so is a civil violation, meaning it carries no criminal penalty, nor does it result in points being assessed against hunters’ licenses. Repeated failures can result in a fine of $105. This year, 100 hunters failed to meet the new requirements.

Among those who did not submit a bear tooth on time was Colonel Jason Batchelder, the head of Vermont’s game wardens. Although Mr. Batchelder found the tooth and eventually submitted it, he did so well after the deadline.

“Improving data collection was our aim,” said Louis Porter, commissioner of the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department. “We wrote the rule this way because, while data collection is important, failure to report a tooth should not carry the same penalty as more serious violations, such as taking game out of season or killing threatened or endangered species.”

As agencies in other states do, with new rules of this type the department’s policy is to issue verbal or written warnings to those who fail to comply. None of the 100 hunters who were either late in submitting a tooth or failed to do so altogether, including Mr. Batchelder, were issued a ticket for the offense. This summer the department will work to better inform hunters of the deadline and further improve on-time collections.

Hunters harvested 622 black bears during the 2017 Vermont bear hunting season, and the bear population continues to be healthy and abundant around Vermont. Teeth submitted by hunters provide important data that will help shape future management and conservation decisions. –– from Vermont Fish and Wildlife.

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