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The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has added a link to a translation service developed by Microsoft Inc., entitled Bing Translator, as a convenience to visitors to the DEC website who speak languages other than English.

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Trapping Regulations

Definitions

To help administer the trapping laws and regulations, DEC has defined some important terms:

  • Trapping: To trap means to take, kill or capture wildlife with traps, deadfalls and other devices commonly used to take wildlife, including the shooting or killing of lawfully trapped animals. It also includes all related activities such as placing, setting, staking or checking traps or assisting another person with these activities.
  • Public highway: The traveled portion of a public highway. Culverts, drainage ditches, and the area under bridges are not considered the traveled portion of a public highway.
  • Carcass: The body or parts thereof, meat, organs or viscera of an animal, including fish. Feathers (including feathers with attached skin or entire bird wings), hair (with or without skin or hide), and bones that include no attached meat, organs or viscera, are excluded from this definition.
  • Suspension: This term applies to animals fully suspended in the air by means of the trap anchoring system (typically a chain, cable or wire). It does not apply to traps set in water or to traps that are directly and firmly attached to an elevated structure, such as a tree.
  • Restraining trap: A device used to capture and restrain a mammal. These traps include leg-gripping traps ("foothold traps"), foot encapsulating traps, and cage or box traps.
  • Foot encapsulating trap: A trap with the following mechanical attributes: The triggering and restraining mechanisms are enclosed within a housing; the triggering and restraining mechanisms are only accessible through a single opening when set; the opening does not exceed 2 inches in diameter; and the trap has a swivel mounted anchoring system.
  • Cage or box trap: A type of restraining trap that fully encloses a captured animal within wood, wire, plastic, or metal.

Rights of Trappers

  • No one may disturb a trap lawfully set by another person.
  • No one may remove a lawfully trapped animal from another person's trap.
  • No one may harass a trapper while he or she is trapping.

Trapper Education Course

Required for persons who have never possessed a trapping license. The trapping course is at least 8 hours in length and is free. For information on trapper education courses in your area, check the Sportsman Education Program on-line course listing or contact the nearest DEC regional Sportsman Education Coordinator.

Legal Traps

Trap Tag Identification

  • Foothold traps larger than 4 inches set on land must have a pan tension device and be covered when set.
  • Teeth are not allowed on foothold traps.
  • On land, foothold traps must be 5 3/4 inches or smaller.
  • During beaver or otter season, foothold traps up to 7 1/4 inches are allowed if set under water.
  • When the beaver or otter season is closed, foothold traps set in water for mink or muskrat may not be larger than 5 3/4 inches.
  • A foothold trap larger than 7 1/4 inches is never legal to use.
  • Body-gripping traps more than 7 1/2 inches may never be used on land.
  • Body-gripping traps more than 7 1/2 inches may only be used in water during an open beaver or otter season.
  • Snares cannot be used for trapping.
  • Box or cage traps are legal for all species.
  • You cannot use a cage trap that is designed to take more than one muskrat at a setting.

Trapping Methods

Land

  • You may not set a trap in such a manner that it causes a captured animal to be fully suspended in the air.
  • You may not set a trap on a public road. Body-gripping traps set on land shall not be within 100 feet of a public trail except on Wildlife Management Areas. You are allowed to set a trap in a culvert or ditch unless the property is posted or the landowner does not allow trapping.
  • Foothold traps larger than 4 inches must be covered when set on land.
  • Body-gripping traps set on land without the use of bait must be no greater than 6 inches and may only be set such that no part of the body-gripping surface is more than 8 inches above the ground.
  • Body-gripping traps 5 1/2 inches to 7 1/2 inches set with the use of bait, lure, or other attractants may only be used according to certain specifications.
  • Any carcass used as bait and placed or used in conjunction with a foothold trap shall be completely covered at the time the trap is set or visited. Coverings shall include but not be limited to brush; branches; leaves; soil; snow; water; or enclosures constructed of wood, metal, wire, plastic or natural materials; and must completely cover the carcass so that it is not visible from directly above. A carcass is defined as the body or parts thereof, meat, organs or viscera of an animal, including fish. Feathers (including feathers with attached skin or entire bird wings), hair (with or without skin or hide), and bones that include no attached meat, organs or viscera, are excluded from this definition.
  • After December 10th in the Northern Zone, body-gripping traps set on land may not be set with bait or lure.

Water

  • You may set a trap in a permanent body of water only when the mink, muskrat, otter, or beaver season is open.
  • You may not disturb a beaver lodge, beaver dam, or muskrat house or den.
  • You may not set a trap on or within 5 feet of a muskrat house.
  • Traps may not be set on or within 15 feet of a beaver lodge at any time.
  • You may set a trap on or near (within 15 feet of) a beaver dam ONLY under these conditions:
    • You are trapping during an OPEN otter season.
    • If the otter season is CLOSED, you may use these traps:
      • Body-gripping trap that measures less than 5.5 inches
      • Foot-encapsulating trap
      • Foothold traps that are 4.75 inches or less
      • Cage or box traps

Land or Water

  • You may use any legal method to kill a trapped animal. You do not need a hunting license to use a firearm to kill a legally trapped animal.
  • You may not set or stake a trap prior to 7:00 a.m. on opening day.
  • You are not allowed to set a trap within 100 feet of a house, school, playground or church unless you have permission from the owner of the land where the trap is set.

Use of Carcasses

Any carcass (see definition of "carcass" above) used as bait and placed or used in conjunction with a foothold trap shall be completely covered at the time the trap is set or visited. Coverings shall include but not be limited to brush, branches, leaves, soil, snow, water, or enclosures constructed of wood, metal, wire, plastic or natural materials; and must completely cover the carcass so that it is not visible from directly above.

Checking Traps

In the Southern Zone: You must check traps once in each 24 hour period.

In the Northern Zone:

Trap Check Regulations in the Northern Zone
Wildlife Mgmt. Units Trap Type Trap Check Requirements
WMU 5C, 5F, 5G, 5H, 5J, 6F, 6J, and 6N all Visited once in each 48 hour period
WMU 5A, 6A, 6C, 6G, 6H, and 6K Traps set in water during the open season for
beaver, otter, mink & muskrat
Visited once in each 48 hour period
WMU 5A, 6A, 6C, 6G, 6H, and 6K Body-gripping traps set on land Visited once in each 48 hour period
WMU 5A, 6A, 6C, 6G, 6H, and 6K Restraining traps Visited once in each 24 hour period

Written descriptions of Wildlife Management Units are available using this link.

Special Permit Requirements for Bobcat & Marten

  • A special permit is required for trapping marten. Contact DEC's Region 5 wildlife office at (518) 623-1240 for details.
  • A special permit is required for hunting or trapping bobcat in the "Harvest Expansion Area." View a map and details on the Bobcat Seasons page.

Tagging & Pelt Sealing

A furbearer possession tag and subsequent pelt sealing is required for bobcat, otter, fisher and marten. For details, visit the Furbearer Possession Tags & Pelt Seals webpage.

Possession of Road-Killed Furbearers

If the trapping or hunting season is open for the species in a Wildlife Management Unit (WMU), you may keep a dead furbearer found on roads within that WMU. The requirements for possessing road-killed furbearers are the same as for trapping and hunting. For example, if you find a road-killed fisher in an area with an open fisher season and you possess a trapping license, you have to contact DEC for a pelt seal. If you find a bobcat, you can possess it if you have a small game or trapping license, but you also must have it pelt sealed.

Buying and Selling Fur

  • Species requiring a pelt seal (bobcat, otter, fisher and marten) cannot be bought or sold or given to another person unless it has the plastic pelt seal on it. All other species may be bought, sold, and transported without restriction.
  • Furbearers may be bought or sold either skinned or unskinned.
  • People who buy fur do not need a fur buyer's license in New York.

Incidental and Accidental Captures of Trapped Animals

There are no provisions in the Environmental Conservation Law allowing trappers to possess animals that are taken outside of the open trapping season.

You must attempt to release any animals that are accidentally captured when the season is closed or if the area is not open for trapping that species.

If the animal is injured to the extent you believe it will not survive, humanely dispatch it. If you are not sure, contact a DEC Regional Wildlife Office for assistance.

When you find an unintentionally captured animal dead in the trap, or when you must dispatch an unintentionally captured animal due to a serious injury, you may remove it and lay it in the vicinity of the trap. There are no legal provisions for you to keep it, and you may not possess it even to take it back to your vehicle without permission from DEC.

DEC seeks information on all accidentally taken bobcat, otter, fisher, marten and other species of unusual nature. If the animals are dead, a DEC wildlife biologist may want to collect the carcass. The location and carcass data are the most valuable information DEC can obtain regarding the status of these species.

Contact a Regional Wildlife Office or an Environmental Conservation Officer as soon as possible to report the catch. You will receive instructions on what to do and information to provide.


More about Trapping Regulations:

  • Regulations for Body-grip Traps Set on Land - Trap specifications for body-grip traps set on land
  • Trigger Regulations for Beaver Trappers - The Department of Environmental Conservation has adopted a new trigger regulation for beaver traps in the Southern Zone. This regulation will allow DEC to manage otter and beaver separately in the Southern Zone so that the unique management needs of each species are met.
  • Furbearer Possession Tags & Pelt Seals - A furbearer possession tag and subsequent pelt sealing is required for bobcat, otter, fisher and marten. Details on the possession tag and pelt seal process are outlined on this page.
  • Measuring Traps - How to measure a foot trap and a body-gripping trap