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Hunting Regulations Icon Massachusetts Hunting

Open season
(All Dates Inclusive)

Furbearers – Trapping

Bobcat1,2 Coyote1, Fox1, Weasel

Nov. 1 – Nov. 30


Nov. 1 – Nov. 22

Mink1, River Otter1

Nov. 1 – Dec. 15


Jan. 1 – April 15
Nov. 1 – April 15, 2017

Muskrat, Opossum,
Raccoon, Skunk

Jan. 1 – Feb. 29
Nov. 1 – Feb. 28, 2017

1 – Pelt sealing required; see below.

2 – Bobcats may only be trapped in zones 1-8


Bobcat may be taken by trapping or salvaged in Wildlife Management Zones 1–8. All bobcats taken or salvaged must be checked within 4 working days of the end of the season at an official check station. Bobcats cannot be reported online.

Mandatory trapper education

First time trappers and Problem Animal Control agents are required to successfully complete a Trapper Education course from any U.S. state and be issued a certificate of completion of such training in order to obtain a trap registration certificate. To be notified about DFW Trapper Education courses call the Hunter Education program at (508) 389-7820 or fill out a course notification form online at the DFW website.

There is also mandatory training for anyone planning to use a Bailey or Hancock trap. Bailey and Hancock traps may not be used, set, tended, or placed unless the trapper has successfully completed training in their use. The Bailey and Hancock certificate must be carried when using such traps. For further information contact the Hunter Education Program at (508) 389-7820.

Trap types

The only traps that may be used for the taking of fur-bearing mammals are cage or box type traps and common rat traps. Hancock and Bailey traps may be used only when the trapper has been trained in their use, and may be used only for taking beaver. A trapper using these traps must possess a certificate of course completion. Common rat traps may be used for the taking of weasels only.

Steel-jaw foothold traps, padded jaw traps, body-gripping (Conibear) traps (see below), snares, deadfalls, and any traps other than those specified above are prohibited. Such traps may not be set, tended, used, or possessed in the field.

There is a detailed procedure for obtaining a special permit to use a body gripping (Conibear) trap for certain types of wildlife damage. Contact your local DFW District Office for details.

Staking is not a recognized practice and conveys no special trapping privileges.

stolen traps: A trapper must report the loss or theft of a trap in writing to the Office of Law Enforcement within 48 hours of the loss or theft, or remain responsible for its use. The report should include the number and type of traps, the date, time, place and circumstances of the loss or theft. Such reports must be signed under the pains and penalties of perjury. Stolen traps should be reported to:

COASTAL Law Enforcement:
Mass. Environmental Police
Office of Law Enforcement
Attn: Trap Loss
Bldg. #45, 349 Lincoln St.
Hingham, MA 02043

INLAND law enforcement:
Mass. Environmental Police
Office of Law Enforcement
Attn: Trap Loss
183 Milk Street
Westborough, MA 01581


Exporting raw furs: When shipping raw fur pelts by any carrier, the contents of the package and the shipper’s hunting or trapping license number must be listed on the outside of the package.

The destruction or removal of any identifying tag or label that is attached to a container in which skins are shipped is unlawful.

All river otter and bobcat require CITES tags to be lawfully exported for sale. Go to a DFW District office for these tags.

Raw Pelts of coyote, wild fox, wild mink, gray wolf, bobcat, lynx, fisher, marten, river otter, or beaver may not be sold in Massachusetts unless tagged by the state or province of origin.


If you are aware of illegal trapping activities, or suspect a violation of any wildlife law, Environmental Police Officers can be reached at (800) 632-8075 (toll free) or (617) 727-6398.

Violations and Penalties: Trapping licenses can be revoked for one year in addition to other penalties and fines as well as restitutions of up to $1000 and/or six months in jail. Traps and other equipment can be seized and forfeited to the Commonwealth. In addition, Problem Animal Control Licenses and/or Furbuyer licenses can be revoked, plus fines and penalties assessed, and additionally, fur products can be seized and forfeited to the Commonwealth.

Trap Registration

All traps used on the land of another must have a valid registration number embedded or cut into the trap. The assigned number, including letter and figures, must be at least 1⁄8 inches high and legible at all times. The trap must also have attached a metal tag bearing the owner’s name, town and registration number. Once obtained, your registration number is yours for life, but must be renewed every two years. To trap on another’s land, a trapper must maintain a current certification of that registration number. Registration numbers are available from the Boston office of the DFW. The initial fee for trap registration is $5.00. Renewal fee is $5.00. Make check payable to Comm. of MA—DFW.

Pelt checking/reporting

Coyote, fox, fisher, beaver, bobcat, river otter, and mink must be checked within 4 working days of the end of their respective seasons. Furbearers/pelts must be checked at an official check station or may be checked online (except bobcat and otter). For detailed information on Online Game Check, visit the Game Check Station page on; visit the MassFishHunt System online at to report your harvest online. Once you are issued a harvest confirmation number, write it on a tag of your own making and attach it to the pelt/carcass. Confirmation numbers must remain attached to all pelts/carcasses for which they were specifically issued until the pelt/carcass is prepared for mounting by a taxidermist or the pelt is sold or tanned. Bobcat and river otter cannot be reported online. Take all bobcat and river otter to an official check station within 4 working days of the end of the season. You will be issued a plastic CITES seal for bobcat and river otter.

Furbearer Check Stations

Check stations are located at all MassWildlife District offices, and the Bitzer and Sunderland State Fish Hatcheries (Monday–Friday excluding holidays). See list below. Coyotes may be reported/checked online or at other locations; visit our website at or call the DFW Field Headquarters for further information. Call check station prior to bringing animals for sealing.

Trapping Prohibitions—It is illegal to:

  1. Trap before 6:00am on opening day of any trapping season.
  2. Possess or have under control a trap on land of another in any place where fur-bearing mammals might be found between April 16 of any year and 6:00am on the following November 1.
  3. Possess the green pelt of any fur-bearing mammal or any part of such pelt except during the open season for such mammal and for ten days thereafter.
  4. Possess or have under his control an unregistered trap on land of another.
  5. Possess or have under control the registered trap of another, unless he has entered into a trapping partnership through the Boston Office as provided in M.G.L. c131 § 80 and 321 CMR 3.02(5)(e)14.
  6. Trap on posted land of another without the written permission of the owner or tenant of such land.
  7. Trap in a public way, cart road, path or other way commonly used as a passageway for human beings or domestic animals.
  8. Tear open, disturb, or destroy a muskrat lodge, beaver lodge or beaver dam, except as provided in 321 CMR 2.08.
  9. Use poison or trap with a trap designed to take more than one mammal at a time.
  10. Trap on land with a Bailey or Hancock beaver trap or other suitcase type cage trap of similar design, except when set upon a beaver dam or beaver lodge, snag, stump, rock, or other above-water protrusion entirely or substantially surrounded by water, or, when the pan of such trap is not completely submerged.
  11. Trap with a Bailey or Hancock beaver trap or other suitcase type cage trap of similar design without having completed a training session and having been issued a certificate of completion as provided for in 321 CMR 3.02(5)(c)2., or to fail to carry such certificate on one’s person when using such traps.
  12. Fail to visit all traps staked out, set, used, tended, placed, or maintained, and remove all animals trapped at least once in each calendar day between the hours of 4:00am and 10:00pm.
  13. Destroy, mutilate, spring, or remove the trap of another.
  14. Take any fur-bearing mammal from the trap of another unless he has on his person a specific written authorization to do so, signed by the owner of such trap. The owner of traps may give such authorization to any person licensed to trap under M.G.L. c. 131 for a period not to exceed one week from the day the traps were last tended, provided that notice of the giving of such authorization including the name and trapping license number of the person so authorized shall be given to the regional Environmental Police Officer and to the Director within 24 hours of the giving of such authorization.
  15. Set, use, place, locate, tend, or maintain a trap not bearing on a metal tag the name, town of residence, and trap registration number of the person or persons using the same in a manner as to be legible at all times. Said registration number shall be permanently embedded in or marked on the traps with letters and figures not less than 18 inches high in such a manner as to be legible at all times.
  16. Trap fur-bearing mammals with any trap other than a cage or box type trap, or a common rat trap for weasels.
  17. Possess any road-killed furbearers during the closed season, or possess road-killed furbearers during the open season without a valid hunting or trapping license as appropriate to that species and season.
  18. Alter, tamper with, or reapply a furbearer tag or seal, or possess any altered or resealed tag, or possess any pelt bearing an altered or resealed tag or seal.


Problem Animal Control (PAC) agents are private individuals licensed by the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife to assist the public in situations involving sick animals or animals causing property damage. If you are experiencing wildlife damage and wish to contract with a PAC agent, a listing can be found on the DFW website Individuals interested in becoming a PAC agent can obtain information on the permitting process from this same website, or call DFW Field Headquarters at (508) 389-6300.


Catch of any species other than beaver or muskrat while trapping with a 10 day emergency permit must be turned over to the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife.


Check stations are open Monday–Friday (excluding holidays). Call check stations prior to bringing pelts in for sealing. Some deer check stations may also check coyotes.

The following are Division furbearer check stations:

  • Western District: Dalton (413) 684-1646
  • Conn. Valley District:
    Belchertown (413) 323-7632
  • Central District:
    West Boylston (508) 835-3607
  • Northeast District: Ayer (978) 772-2145
  • Southeast District:
    Buzzards Bay (508) 759-3406
  • Sunderland Hatchery:
    Sunderland (413) 665-4680
  • Bitzer Fish Hatchery:
    Montague (413) 367-2477
  • Field Headquarters:
    Westborough (508) 389-6300


Rabies in wild mammals has been confirmed in all counties in Massachusetts except Dukes and Nantucket. Wear rubber gloves when skinning furbearers. If you believe you have been exposed to a rabid animal, scrub the area thoroughly with soap and water and seek medical advice immediately. If possible, isolate and preserve the dead animal by refrigeration as soon as possible. Contact your local Board of Health.