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Furbearer Trapping

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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 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.

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.

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.

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 taken during the trapping season must be reported to the DNR CheckIN Game system (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 online at wildlife.IN.gov for locations.

There is a statewide quota of 600 river otters for the 2019-20 season. The season will close early if the quota is reached prior to March 15, 2020. Trappers are responsible for knowing if the quota has been met. The current reported river otter take can be found at wildlife.IN.gov or by calling 317-232-4080. If the season closes early, an exception may be made for an individual who traps a river otter within 48 hours after the close of the season and has not yet reached his/her own bag limit.

River otters killed accidentally after the statewide quota or individual’s own bag limit has been reached must notify the DNR within 48 hours of capture and make arrangements to give that river otter to the DNR.

River otters trapped outside the season or in counties closed to river otter trapping must be turned in to the DNR. Call your local district wildlife biologist (see p. 45), local Conservation Officer (see p. 47) or 812-837-9536.

You must take the skinned carcass and separated pelt to a designated DNR employee or registration station for physical registration and CITES tagging within 15 days after the month of harvest.

River otter pelts 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 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.

Trappers reported taking 589 river otters during the 2018-19 season after trapping 498 river otters in the 2017-18 season.

Trapping Seasons

Furbearers

Trapping Seasons

Coyote, Striped Skunk Oct. 15, 2019 – March 15, 2020
Red and Gray Fox Oct. 15, 2019 – Jan. 31, 2020
Beaver Nov. 15, 2019 – March 15, 2020
Mink, Muskrat, Weasel (long-tailed weasel only) Nov. 15, 2019 – Jan. 31, 2020
Raccoon, Opossum Nov. 8, 2019 – Jan. 31, 2020
River Otter (in designated counties) Nov. 15, 2019 – March 15, 2020 (or until quota is met)

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.

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.

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.

Measuring your foothold trap

  1. Measure the widest inside jaw spread perpendicular to the trap’s base plate as in Figure 3 and circle the measurement (or closest measurement) in Column 1.
  2. Measure the inside width between the trap’s hinge posts as in Figure 4 and circle the measurement (or closest measurement) in Column 2.
  3. If both measurements fall in Box 1, then the trap can have standard jaws (offset jaws are not required).
  4. If either measurement falls in Box 2, then the jaws of the trap must have at least a 1⁄8 inch offset or the gap of the offset can be filled with securely attached rubber pads. “Securely attached” means with bolts or rivets, not tape.
  5. If either measurements fall in Box 3, then the trap must be completely covered by water.

BOX

COLUMN 1

COLUMN 2

1 5″ or less 5″ or less
5¼” 5¼”
5½” 5½”
5¾” 5¾”
2 > 5¾” * > 5¾”
6″ 6″
6¼” 6¼”
6½”
3 > 6½” > 6½”
6¾” 6¾”
7″ 7″
7¼” or more 7¼” or more