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Furbearer Hunting

Hunting Regulations Icon Indiana Hunting

A valid hunting license is needed to hunt coyote, gray fox, opossum, raccoon, red fox, and striped skunk. (See the chart above for season dates.)

A continuously burning light that can be seen for at least 500 feet must be carried while pursuing furbearing animals between sunset and sunrise. It is illegal to:

  • Remove wild animals from any cavity or den;
  • To disturb the den or nest of any animal by shooting, digging, cutting or chipping; with the aid of smoke, fire, fumes, chemicals, ferret or other small animal; or with any device introduced into the hole where the animal is sheltered
  • To use or carry tree climbing or cutting equipment for the purpose of dislodging an animal from a tree.

Dog Running

The dog running season for raccoon and opossum extends from noon Feb. 1 through noon Oct. 25. A person needs a valid Indiana hunting license to chase wild animals with dogs. It is legal to hunt and chase foxes (Oct. 15 to Feb. 28), raccoons (Nov. 8 to Jan. 31), and coyotes (Oct. 15 to March 15) with dogs during the established hunting seasons. Youth that are younger than 13 years old, do not possess a bow, crossbow or firearm, and are accompanied by an individual who is at least 18 years of age and holds a valid license are exempt from needing a hunting license while chasing a wild animal during the dog running season. Certain restrictions apply on DNR-managed properties. It is legal to chase foxes and coyotes with dogs year-round with a hunting license with permission of the landowner.

Fox & Coyote Hunting

It is legal to hunt fox and coyote with the use of mouth- or hand-operated calls, or with the use of recorded calls. Spotlights may be used to take fox and coyote. There are no restrictions on hunting hours or firearms for hunting fox and coyote. It is illegal to hunt fox or coyote from a roadway or with the use of any motor-driven conveyance. It is legal to chase foxes and coyotes with dogs year-round with a hunting license. Certain restrictions apply on DNR-managed properties.

Protected Species

Badgers and bobcats are protected species. It is illegal to take these furbearers in Indiana. If you accidentally trap a badger or bobcat, report the incident to an Indiana Conservation Officer. There is no penalty for reporting accidental captures. If the animal is dead, the carcass must be surrendered to an Indiana Conservation Officer. Information provided by hunters and trappers is an important means of determining the status and distribution of these species in Indiana.

For more on protected wildlife, call the DNR Division of Fish & Wildlife, (317) 232-4200 or go to Wildlife.IN.gov.

Nuisance Animals

Resident landowners or tenants may use legal methods, without a permit, to take a beaver, mink, muskrat, long-tailed weasel, red fox, gray fox, opossum, skunk, gray squirrel, fox squirrel or raccoon that is on their own property and damaging property or posing a health or safety threat.

If the animal is released, it must be released in the county of capture with permission of the landowner.

Ground hogs (woodchucks), moles, and chipmunks may be taken at any time using any equipment without a permit.

Landowners may take coyotes at any time on the land they own without a special permit or license, or they may provide written permission for others to take coyotes on their land at any time. A valid hunting or trapping license or nuisance wild animal control permit is required to take a coyote on land other than your own.

Coyotes that are taken outside the hunting and trapping season by a landowner or someone with written permission from a landowner cannot be possessed live for more than 24 hours, and the live coyote cannot be sold, traded, bartered or gifted.

Possession of
Hides/Carcasses

There is no longer a deadline for the possession of lawfully obtained untanned hides or unprocessed carcasses of furbearers taken during the season.

The sale of legally harvested furbearing mammals or untanned hides of furbearing mammals can be made to licensed fur buyers only.

Go to wildlife.IN.gov/7730.htm for a list of Indiana licensed fur buyers, or call the Division of Fish & Wildlife at (317) 232-4200.

Possession of Live
Furbearers

Only raccoons, red foxes, gray foxes, and coyotes can be retained alive during the trapping season for that species.

Raccoons, foxes or coyotes that are removed from a trap and kept alive must be confined in a cage or other enclosure that: (a) makes escape of the mammal unlikely and prevents the entrance of a free-roaming mammal of the same species; (b) is structurally sound; (c) is of sufficient strength for the species involved; (d) is maintained in good repair and smoothly secured to prevent escape or injury to the mammal in the enclosure; (e) is constructed to allow sufficient space for individual posture, to turn about freely, and make normal social movements; (f) is secured when unattended with protective devices at entrances and exits to prevent escapes if kept outdoors and if needed to prevent injuries to human or the mammal’s health and; (g) has ambient ventilation by means of windows, doors, vents, fans, or air conditioning to protect the health of the mammal and to minimize drafts, odors and condensation.

Night quarters, transportation cages, and nesting boxes may not be used as primary housing. Surface water must be adequately drained from a cage or enclosure where the mammal is housed. Adequate lighting must be provided by artificial or natural means and cycled for appropriate photoperiod, if necessary for the mammal in possession. The cages or enclosures must also have adequate shelter from the elements and provide adequate shade for the animals.

You must remove and dispose of food wastes, feces, urine and bedding from the enclosure. You must also remove from the enclosure and appropriately dispose of trash, garbage, debris, and carcasses as soon as they are observed.

You must also provide daily: 1) fresh, clean drinking water in clean containers and 2) food that is unspoiled, uncontaminated, appropriate to the dietary needs of the mammal, and of sufficient quantity for the mammal involved.

Furbearers that are possessed alive and their cages or other enclosures must be made available for inspection by an Indiana Conservation Officer upon request.

River Otter Rules

A valid Indiana trapping license is required to set traps for river otters. An individual who sets a trap for river otters must be at least 10 years old, unless the individual has passed a state-certified trapper education course.

River otters may be trapped from 8 a.m. Nov. 15, 2016 until noon March 15, 2017 and only in counties open to harvest. See map of the 66 counties open to river otter trapping.

The bag limit is two otters per trapper per season. An individual who sets a trap that catches a river otter must count the animal toward his or her season limit. River otters killed accidentally after the bag limit or statewide quota is reached must notify the DNR within 24 hours of capture and make arrangements to give that river otter to the DNR.

There is a statewide quota of 600 river otters for the 2016-17 season. If this number is reached prior to March 15, 2017, the season will close early. Trappers are responsible for knowing if the quota has been met. If the season closes early, an exception may be made for an individual who traps a river otter within 24 hours of the close of the season and has not yet reached his/her own bag limit.

River otters trapped outside the season or after a trapper’s bag limit has been reached must be turned in to the DNR. Call your local Conservation Officer or district wildlife biologist, or call (812) 837-9536.

River otters taken during the trapping season must be reported to the DNR CheckIN Game system (www.CheckINGame.dnr.IN.gov or call 800-419-1326) within 24 hours of harvest. A CheckIN Game confirmation number will be provided and must be kept with the river otter until the animal is physically registered by a designated Indiana DNR employee or at an official DNR river otter check station. Check wildlife.IN.gov/8499.htm for locations.

Prior to physical registration, the otter must be skinned, after which the separated pelt and skinned carcass must be taken to a designated DNR employee or registration station. The pelt will be sealed with a CITES tag and the carcass collected so DNR biologists can evaluate reproductive and age data from the animal. The information helps biologists make future season recommendations.

What is a CITES tag? CITES stands for the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora. It is an international agreement governing trade of endangered species. As a CITES participant, the United States follows certain requirements. River otters are on Appendix II of CITES, which means they are a “look alike” species to other endangered river otter species around the world.

To ensure river otters entering international trade were harvested legally in the United States, an unaltered CITES tag must be affixed to the pelt. Each state has uniquely marked tags. An otter pelt must have a CITES tag before it can be sold.

Reporting Incidentals

If incidental catch of a bobcat or badger occurs, contact your local Conservation Officer or call (812) 837-9536 as soon as possible for instructions on how to release an animal, or if dead, how to transport it to the Department.

Trapping Regulations

Furbearing game animals in Indiana include beaver, coyote, gray fox, red fox, long-tailed weasel, mink, muskrat, opossum, raccoon, and striped skunk.

You must have a valid Indiana trapping license to set traps.

Traps may not be set prior to 8 a.m. on opening day of trapping season. Traps must be checked and animals removed at least one time every 24 hours. Traps may be set at any distance from openings to tile drains or entrances to beaver or muskrat lodges. Tree climbing equipment may not be used as an aid in removing wild animals from trees. The use of motor-driven watercraft is permitted for purposes of setting or checking trap lines.

All trapping seasons are from 8 a.m. of the first day of the season to noon of the last day of the season. There are no daily bag or possession limits except for river otters.

Furbearers (except for raccoons, foxes and coyotes that can be retained alive) that are trapped must either be released into the wild in the county in which they were captured within 24 hours of capturing the animals, or they must be euthanized immediately after removal from the trap or immediately upon transporting from the trap site.

Trapping Seasons

Furbearers

Trapping Seasons

Coyote, Striped Skunk

Oct. 15, 2016 – March 15, 2017

Red and Gray Fox

Oct. 15, 2016 – Jan. 31, 2017

Beaver

Nov. 15, 2016 – March 15, 2017

Mink, Muskrat, Weasel (long-tailed weasel only)

Nov. 15, 2016 – Jan. 31, 2017

Raccoon, Opossum

Nov. 8, 2016 – Jan. 31, 2017

River Otter (in designated counties)

Nov. 15, 2016 – March 15, 2017 (or until quota is met)

Body Gripping Traps
A person must not take a wild animal with a Conibear, Dahlgren, Bigelow or other body-gripping trap on land if the widest inside jaw-spread measured at the horizontal center of the trap’s jaws (Figure 1) and the widest horizontal inside jaw-spread measured at the vertical center of the trap’s jaws (Figure 2) is:

  1. Larger than 7.5 inches if square or
  2. Larger than 8 inches if round

Otherwise, the trap must be completely covered by water.

BodyGripTrap-horiz

Figure 1

BodyGripTrap-vert

Figure 2

Snares

It is only legal to use a snare to trap a wild animal on land you own or with the written permission of the landowner. The maximum legal circumference for snare loops is 15 inches, unless at least half of the snare loop is covered by water or if the snare employs a relaxing snare lock. A relaxing snare lock allows the snare loop to loosen slightly to reduce the possibility of strangulation. Regulations on snare size and lock are designed to prevent accidental loss of domestic animals.

Box Traps

Furbearers may be captured in box traps used on land or underwater.

Foothold Traps

It is illegal to use a foothold trap with saw-toothed or spiked jaws. It is illegal to take a wild animal with a foothold trap if the widest inside jaw-spread measured perpendicular to the trap’s base plate and the inside width between the trap’s hinge posts (both measurements) is greater than 5¾ inches and less than or equal to 6½ inches, unless the jaws of the trap have at least a 1/8-inch offset, the gap of the offset is filled with securely attached rubber pads, or the trap is completely covered by water.

Securely attached rubber pads are those attached with bolts or rivets. The trap’s hinge posts must be maintained at a 90-degree angle to the trap’s base plate. It is illegal to take a wild animal with a foothold trap on land if the widest inside jaw-spread measured perpendicular to the trap’s base plate and the inside width between the trap’s hinge posts is greater than 6½ inches.

It is illegal to set or place a stake, chain, drag or another portion of a trap that is designed to take a wild animal, except during a season established for trapping that wild animal.