(information last updated January 2019)

Ongoing Projects:

Federal Project(s) Operating in the State:

In partnership with the National Park Service (“NPS”), biologists for the Vermont Center for Ecostudies (“VCE”) have developed a monitoring protocol for songbirds and implemented the plan with help from volunteers. See National Park Service Landbird Monitoring, Vt. Ctr. for Ecostudies, (last visited Feb. 7, 2019).VCE now oversees songbird population monitoring at eleven NPS properties across the Northeast. See id.


VCE is also tasked with coordinating the Breeding Bird Survey (“BBS”) across the State of Vermont. See Vermont Breeding Bird Survey, Vt. Ctr. for Ecostudies, (last visited Feb. 7, 2019). BBS is a cooperative effort between the U.S. Geological Survey’s Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, the Canadian Wildlife Service’s National Wildlife Research Centre, and other institutions to monitor the status of North American bird populations. Id. Thousands of volunteers work to collect BBS data. Id.

State Project(s):

The Vermont Agency of Natural Resources’ Department of Environmental Conservation (“DEC”) manages the Vermont Lay Monitoring Program, which equips and trains members of the public and local watershed associations to measure nutrient levels of lakes and ponds. See Citizen Scientists: Volunteer, Vt. Agency of Nat. Resources, (last visited Feb. 7, 2019).


Also hosted by DEC, the Vermont Invasive Patrolers program recruits volunteers to monitor water bodies in the state for new introductions of invasive species. Id.


The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department hosts multiple wildlife observation surveys and reporting forms on its website, such as the Wild Turkey Brood SurveySee Citizen Reporting, Vt. Fish & Wildlife Dep’t, (last visited Feb. 7, 2019).

Collection of Information:

Ag-Gag Laws

An Ag-Gag bill introduced in the Vermont State Legislature in 2013 did not pass. See S.162, 20132014 Sess. (Vt. 2013),


However, Vermont’s trespass law states that “[a] person who enters a building other than a residence, whose access is normally locked, whether or not the access is actually locked, or a residence in violation of an order of any court of competent jurisdiction in this State shall be imprisoned for not more than one year or fined not more than $500.00, or both.” 13 Vt. Stat. Ann. § 3705(c). 

Scientific Collection Permit.

A properly accredited individual or institution must apply for a permit from the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department “to collect birds, their nests and eggs, and fish and wild animals or parts thereof, for public scientific research or educational purposes.” 10 Vt. Stat. Ann. § 4152(a).


Criminal Liability for Trespass

“A person shall be imprisoned for not more than three months or fined not more than $500.00, or both, if, without legal authority or the consent of the person in lawful possession, he or she enters or remains on any land or in any place as to which notice against trespass is given by:

(A) actual communication by the person in lawful possession or his or her agent or by a law enforcement officer acting on behalf of such person or his or her agent;

(B) signs or placards so designed and situated as to give reasonable notice; or

(C) in the case of abandoned property:

(i) signs or placards . . . so designed and situated as to give reasonable notice;

(ii) actual communication by a law enforcement officer.”

13 Vt. Stat. Ann. § 3705(a)(1).

Drone Laws:


“Any use of drones by any person, including a law enforcement agency, shall comply with all applicable Federal Aviation Administration requirements and guidelines.” 20 Vt. Stat. Ann. § 4623(a).

Stalking Laws:

Criminal Law:

“Any person who intentionally stalks another person shall be imprisoned not more than two years or fined not more than $ 5,000.00, or both.” 13 Vt. Stat. Ann. § 1062.


“‘Stalk’ means to engage purposefully in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that the person engaging in the conduct knows or should know would cause a reasonable person to fear for his or her safety or the safety of another or would cause a reasonable person substantial emotional distress.” Id. § 1061(4).

Use of Information:

Although our research is incomplete, these provisions address the use of information collected by citizens.

Explicitly Allows:

“The [Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation] shall investigate all citizen complaints of a violation of a federally authorized or delegated program and shall respond to known complaints in writing.”  10 Vt. Stat. Ann. § 8020(j).

Explicitly Prohibits:

“A law enforcement agency shall not use a drone or information acquired through the use of a drone for the purpose of investigating, detecting, or prosecuting crime,” 20 Vt. Stat. Ann. § 4622(a), unless the drone is operated “for a purpose other than the investigation, detection, or prosecution of crime, including search and rescue operations and aerial photography for the assessment of accidents, forest fires and other fire scenes, flood stages, and storm damage and aerial photography for the assessment of accidents” or pursuant to a warrant, id. § 4622(c). 


“Information or evidence gathered in violation of this section shall be inadmissible in any judicial or administrative proceeding.” Id. § 4622(e). 

Evidentiary Standards:

Pleading a Claim:

Requires certification that “the allegations and other factual contentions have evidentiary support, or, if specifically so identified, are likely to have evidentiary support after a reasonable opportunity for further investigation or discovery.” Vt. R. Civ. P. 11(b)(3).

Authentication or Chain of Custody:

“The requirement of authentication or identification as a condition precedent to admissibility is satisfied by evidence sufficient to support a finding that the matter in question is what its proponent claims.” Vt. R. Evid. 901(a).

Expert Testimony:

Vermont Rule of Evidence 702 and Daubert standard. See State v. Brooks, 643 A.2d 226, 229 (1993) (“Similar principles [as in Daubert] should apply here because Vermont’s rules are essentially identical to the federal ones on admissibility of scientific evidence.”).


Please note that this discussion is not moderated by the Emmett Environmental Law & Policy Clinic.