Vermont Bans Sales of “Animal Parts”

In 2022 antique scrimshaw and netsuke without documentation will be illegal to sell or buy in Vermont.

A bill passed by the House and the Senate in Vermont regulating the sale of animal parts and products was delivered to Governor Phil Scott on October 2. He signed it into law on October 7.

The law prohibits the buying and selling of any item of a covered animal part or product. Covered animals include any species of whale, elephant, cheetah, giraffe, hippopotamus, jaguar, leopard, lion, mammoth, mastodon, pangolin, ray, rhinoceros, sea turtle, shark, or tiger.

The law will not go into effect until January 1, 2022, allowing dealers and collectors to prepare for the change.

There are narrow exceptions for antiques. The law will not apply “when the covered animal part or product is a fixed component of an antique that is not made wholly or partially from the covered animal part or product, provided that: (A) the antique status is established by the owner or seller...with documentation providing evidence of the provenance...showing the covered animal part or product to be not less than 100 years old; and (B) the total weight of the covered animal part or product is less than 200 grams.”

The law also doesn’t apply if the animal part or product “is a fixed component of a firearm; knife; or musical instrument...legally acquired and provided that the total less than 200 grams.” Two hundred grams is about seven ounces.

Documentation showing provenance or the age “may include receipts of purchase, invoices, bills of sale, prior appraisals, auction catalogues, museum or art gallery exhibit catalogues, and the signed certification of an antique appraiser to the age of the covered animal part.”

The penalty for a first offense is a fine of “not more than $1000 nor less than $400.” For a second offense, the fine will be “not more than $4000 nor less than $2000.” Persons convicted of violating a provision of the law “shall forfeit” the object.

The law provides a “rebuttable presumption” that a person who possesses a covered animal part or product has intent to sell “when the part or product is possessed by a retail or wholesale establishment or other forum engaged in the business of buying or selling similar items.”


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