Beaver and fisher trapping season dates and town closures were not available at the time of printing, but will be available to trappers in mid-October.
Dates and closures will also be posted on the web site at: mefishwildlife.com. The Department has initiated rule making on several issues related to trapping. Any changes that pass will be included in the Trapper Information Booklet when it becomes available.
What’s a trap?
A trap is any device which is made to catch animals. There are many types of traps, but those which you are allowed to use to trap wild animals in Maine (under the rules explained in the following pages) are:
Trapping is the setting or tending of traps. You are considered to be trapping if you do any of the following things:
Who needs a trapping license?
Except for certain landowners, full-time Department employees authorized by the commissioner for animal damage control purposes, and children, everyone (including animal damage control agents and animal control officers appointed pursuant to Title 7) must have the appropriate trapping license before going out to trap for wild animals or before going out to help another person who is trapping. (An unlicensed person may accompany a trapper only as an observer.)
Which trapping license do I need?
An apprentice trapper license allows a person who has never held a trapping license to go trapping with an experienced trapper for up to one year without having to take a trapper education course. An experienced trapper is one who has held a valid trapping license for 3 consecutive years. The holder of an apprentice trapper license must, while trapping, be under the direct supervision of an experienced trapper at all times. An apprentice trapper license allows a person to trap for all species that may be legally trapped, except black bear. The fee for an apprentice trapper license is the same as a regular trapping license.
Note: Any licensed trapper may take up to 20 pounds of eels, by eel pots or hook and line only, for the purpose of baiting traps.
How much does a trapping license cost?
Note: Resident disabled veterans and Native Americans (see 2013-14 Licensing Information) are eligible for a free license.
Where can I get a trapping license?
All trapping licenses are issued from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife office in Augusta. Trapping license cannot be purchased online.
How long does a trapping license remain valid?
A trapping license remains valid from July 1st through June 30th of the following year.
Do I need to take a trapper education course?
When you apply for any Maine trapping license (except a junior license), you must show proof of having successfully completed a state-approved trapper education course OR show proof of having held an adult trapping license (in Maine or in some other state, province or country) at some time since 1978.
Are young people allowed to go trapping by themselves?
Children under 10 years of age are allowed to trap all legal species, except bear, without a license but must be accompanied at all times by a parent or an approved adult who is at least 18 years of age. Children over 10 years of age and under 16 years of age who hold a junior trapping license must be accompanied, unless they have successfully completed a trapper education course. The person who accompanies a youth trapper is responsible for any violations committed by this trapper.
What animals am I allowed to trap?
Maine has an open trapping season for the following species of animals:
Note: There is also a trapping season for black bear. However, the black bear is not considered a furbearing animal, so the bear trapping rules will be explained separately. See Bear Trapping.
Except as explained in animal damage control laws, you are never allowed to trap for any species of wild bird, and you are never allowed to trap for any species of wild animal which does not have an open trapping season.
When does the trapping season open?
The general trapping season for bobcat, coyote, fox, mink, muskrat, opossum, otter, raccoon, red squirrel, marten, fisher, skunk, and weasel opens on November 3, 2013, and closes on December 31, 2013. See Trapping Rules for early fox, coyote, and muskrat trapping season dates. See Bear Trapping for bear trapping season dates.
Am I allowed to trap for muskrats while I’m beaver trapping?
After the end of the general trapping season, you are allowed to continue to trap for muskrats in any area of the State which is open to beaver trapping. Please see the Trapper Information Booklet, on our website, for current muskrat trapping rules during the spring beaver season.
What if I catch a mink or otter in my beaver (or muskrat) traps?
Although you are not allowed to trap for mink or otter after the general trapping season closes, you are allowed to keep a mink or otter if you catch one by accident during the beaver trapping season.
Are there “special” trapping seasons for any furbearing animals?
There is an early statewide fox and coyote trapping season prior to the regular trapping season, and there is an early muskrat trapping season in Wildlife Management Districts 1 through 6, 9, 10, and 11 prior to the regular trapping season. Details about these two early seasons will be explained later.
Am I allowed to put out bait or prepare sets before the trapping season begins?
Except for beaver and muskrat, you are allowed to go out before the season starts and make preparations in the area you plan to trap; however, you are never allowed to fasten a trap (set or unset) at any trap site location before opening day. You are not allowed to make any advance preparations for trapping beaver and muskrat. You may not use meat or fish as bait in trapping for beaver.
Also, you are not allowed to set any steel footholds or killer-type traps within 50 yards of bait that is visible from above.
What does “advance preparation” include?
Advance preparation includes:
Is there a season limit on any species of furbearing animal?
The only furbearing animals which have a season limit are fisher and marten. You are not allowed to take or possess more than 25 marten or 10 fisher during the trapping season. (See special tagging requirements for marten and fisher.)
When and where am I allowed to set the different types of traps?
As already mentioned, you are allowed to use ordinary foothold traps, specialized duffer-type foothold traps, body gripping killer-type traps, cage-type live traps, colony traps and snares, but you must obey the following rules:
Steel foothold or killer-type traps must not be set within 50 yards of bait that is visible from above. Bait may be used for trapping if it is completely covered to prevent it from being seen from above, and it must be covered in such a way as to withstand wind action and other normal environmental conditions. Bait is defined as animal matter including meat, skin, bones, feathers, hair or any other solid substance that used to be part of an animal. This includes live or dead fish. For the purpose of this paragraph, bait does not include animal droppings (scat), urine or animals, dead or alive, held in a trap as the result of lawful trapping activity.
You are not allowed to use any visual attractor during the early fox and coyote season. You are allowed to use visual attractors during the regular trapping season, but they cannot be any part of an animal (antler, bone, feather, etc.) See above section.
Ordinary foothold traps may be used to trap for all legal species of furbearing animal, except that;
Duffer type traps
Duffer-type foothold traps (also called egg traps, coon cuffs, bandit busters, etc.) that are designed primarily to catch raccoons and avoid incidental catches of other animals may be used throughout the trapping season.
Killer-type (body-gripping) traps
Killer-type traps may be used to trap for all legal species of furbearing animal, but the size of the traps (jaw spread), and the Wildlife Management District, determines where you are allowed to set them:
Note: Those traps that are required to be set on poles made from a natural section of a tree, that have no sawed or planed sections, and that are 4 inches or less in diameter 4 feet above the ground or snow and set at an angle of at least 45 degrees from the ground the entire distance to the trap.
Cage-type live traps
Cage-type live traps may be used to trap for all legal species of furbearing animal, except that in WMDs 1–6 and 8–11, no cage trap which has an opening of more than 13 inches in width or more than 13 inches in height may be used unless the cage trap is being used (1) for wildlife research and survey activities; (2) for the removal of animals that are causing damage to property; or (3) to capture bear.
Snares may be used only in the following situations:
Colony traps may be used to trap for furbearing animals throughout the trapping season, except that:
Wooden-base rat traps
Except in Wildlife Management Districts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, and 11 wooden-base rat traps may be set on land for weasel and red squirrel trapping if recessed in a wooden box with a hole no larger than 2 inches in diameter.
Location and preparation for traps
In Wildlife Management Districts 7, 14, 18, and 19, killer-type traps with a jaw spread not to exceed 7½ inches may be used on the ground level if the trap is placed within a lynx exclusion device. The trap jaws must be completely within the device, the trap springs can be outside of the device. The lynx exclusion device must not have an opening greater than 6 inches by 8 inches, the set trap within the device must be a minimum of 18 inches from the closest edge of the opening to the trap (intended for 160 and 220 conibear traps) or; if the device has a 4 inches by 4 inches or less opening, the trap must be a minimum of 12 inches from the closest edge of the opening to the trap (intended for 120 conibear traps). The opening must not be directly in front of the trap rather on the top or on the side of the device. The back of the device must be secured to withstand heavy pulling; if using wire mesh with a wood box, the wire mesh must wrap around two opposite sides of the box and be secured. There must be at least 2 attachment points for each side of the device were there is a joint or panels come together. The exclusion device can be constructed of wood, or wire mesh that does not exceed 1½ inches openings (side to side). The wire mesh has to be 16 gauge or less (wire diameter of 0.05 or greater). The opening slot in the exclusion device that allows the trap springs to extend outside the device can be no more than 7½ inches wide and a height of no more than 1½ inches. The trap must be anchored outside of the exclusion device. Bait must not be visible from above.
Am I allowed to set traps in the built-up section of a town?
Unless you are on your own land, the only trapping you are allowed to do within ½ mile of the built-up section of a city or town is with the use of cage-type live traps and drowning sets.
What’s a drowning set?
A drowning set is a trap that is set completely under water and rigged in such a way as to reasonably ensure the drowning of any species of trapped furbearer that would reasonably be expected to visit the set location and be held in the type of trap used at the set. (Note: You are allowed to trap in shallow water where a trapped animal is not likely to drown, but traps set in this manner are not considered to be drowning sets and are not allowed within ½ mile of the built up section of a city or town.)
Do I need permission to trap on land I don’t own?
You are strongly encouraged to seek landowner permission before going on someone else’s land for any purpose. The trapping laws, with some exceptions, require that you have prior written permission from the landowner before setting traps:
Landowner permission is not required when trapping for beaver that can be legally accessed via water. A new law has also eliminated the written landowner permission requirements:
Note: Although you are not always required to obtain written landowner permission before setting traps, you are never allowed to set traps on privately owned land if the landowner has asked you not to trap there, either by a conspicuously posted sign or by word of mouth.
When trapping on someone else’s land, there are certain things you are never allowed to do unless the landowner has given you specific permission to do so:
What are the rules about trapping around muskrat houses, beaver houses and beaver dams?
You are not allowed to destroy or damage a muskrat house or den, a beaver house or a beaver dam. You are not allowed to set a trap within 10 feet of a muskrat house, a muskrat den, or a beaver house, and you are not allowed to set a trap within 5 feet of a beaver dam.
The exceptions to this rule are that in Wildlife Management Districts 1, 2, 4, 8, 9, and 10 there is no required setback distance from an active beaver dam, and in Wildlife Management Districts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 there is no required setback distance from a beaver house.
How do I know if a hole in the bank of a lake or stream is the entrance to a muskrat den or beaver house?
For enforcement purposes, the Department uses the following definitions in deciding if a hole in the bank is part of a muskrat den or beaver house:
A muskrat den is any cavity which is capped by muskrats with vegetative matter, including but not limited to hollow stumps and bank cavities. Holes in the bank not capped with vegetative matter are not considered to be muskrat dens.
The term beaver house includes any cavity in the bank which is capped by beaver with mud and sticks. Holes in the bank not capped with mud and sticks are not considered to be beaver houses.
Am I allowed to set traps on an abandoned beaver dam which no longer holds back water?
Yes. As long as the dam is inactive or breached, is in disrepair and is no longer being maintained by a beaver and shows no evidence of beaver activity.
Am I required to set my traps a certain distance away from another person’s traps?
You are required to set your traps at least 4 feet away from another person’s beaver traps; however, as a matter of common courtesy you should always set your traps a reasonable distance away from any trap which has been set by someone else.
How do I know if my traps are set the required distance away from a muskrat house or den, a beaver house or another person’s beaver traps?
If there is any question, you should always measure the distance to your trap using the following guidelines:
Do my traps need to be marked or identified in any way?
Each trap you set must be clearly labeled with your full name and address.
Note: The recommended method for labeling traps is to attach to each trap chain with a piece of wire a small metal tag preprinted with your name and address.
When trapping beaver (or other animals) under the ice, am I required to display my name and address above the ice on the pole to which my trap is attached?
The law only requires that you label each trap with your name and address. However, most trappers label both their trap and the pole to which their trap is fastened. This eliminates the need for a warden to chop out or otherwise disturb the set in order to identify the trapper. (It is a Department policy that if the trapper’s name and address are displayed on the trap pole above the ice, the warden will not chop out the set to check the trap for a label.)
I trap with a partner, and we use each other’s traps. Do the traps need to have both names on them?
The purpose of the trap labeling law is to make sure that the trapper can be located if there’s a problem. Therefore, if two people are trapping together, it is not necessary to have the name and address of both trappers on each trap.
How often do I need to tend (visit or check) my traps?
That depends on where you trap and what types of traps you use. Under ice drowning sets for beaver and muskrat have no specific tending requirements. All other traps must be tended, as follows:
In organized towns
In unorganized towns
Am I allowed to have someone else tend my traps for me?
If you are unable to tend your traps, you are allowed to give permission to another licensed trapper to tend your traps for you.
Am I allowed to carry a firearm while tending my traps?
Any licensed trapper is allowed to carry a firearm at any time while tending traps (including nights and Sundays) for the sole purpose of dispatching trapped animals. (Note: If you have a hunting license, you are also allowed to use this firearm for legal hunting purposes.) Any person prohibited from possessing a firearm under the Maine Revised Statutes, Title 15, Section 393 is prohibited from carrying a firearm during the open trapping season for the purpose of dispatching animals unless they have obtained a valid permit to carry a firearm.
Am I allowed to hunt for furbearing animals with my firearm?
You may use a firearm or bow and arrow to hunt for bobcat, coyote, fox, opossum, raccoon, red squirrel and skunk during the open hunting season on these animals. You are not allowed to hunt for beaver, fisher, marten, mink, muskrat, otter, or weasel at any time.
What do I do when I catch an animal in one of my traps?
Any animal you find in one of your traps must be removed. If the animal is alive, it may either be released or humanely dispatched. You are not allowed to keep a trapped animal alive unless you also have a license to possess captive wildlife. (Contact the Department for more information about captive wildlife.) See the Trapper Information handbook for information on what to do and who to contact if you catch a lynx or bald eagle.
What if I catch an animal that I’m not allowed to keep?
If you catch an animal at a time when you are not allowed to trap for that species, you must immediately release the animal alive. If the animal is found dead in the trap, you must report the incident to a game warden as soon as possible and turn the animal over to the Department.
During the seasons explained below, there are rules, in addition to the general trapping rules, which you must follow. Failure to follow these rules could result in the loss of your trapping license.
Early Fox and Coyote Trapping Season
Opens Sunday, October 20, 2013 and closes Saturday, November 2, 2013
Early Muskrat Trapping Season
Wildlife Management Districts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 10, 11 only. Opens Sunday, October 27, 2013 and closes Saturday, November 2, 2013.
Do the furbearing animals which I take by trapping or hunting need to be tagged?
The skins of all beaver, bobcat, coyote, fisher, fox, marten, mink and otter must be tagged within 10 days after the end of the season on each species. There is a 25 cent tagging fee for each skin. (Note: The skins of all bobcats taken by hunting must be tagged within 72 hours from the time they were taken.) Tags must be attached to the skins of these furbearing animals before you are allowed to sell them, give them away, send them anywhere or take them anywhere. Skins of other furbearing animals (muskrat, opossum, raccoon, red squirrel, skunk and weasel) do not need to be tagged.
If the beaver trapping season closes at different times in different districts, do some beaver skins have to be tagged sooner than others?
All beaver must be tagged within 10 days of the final closing date on beaver. If beaver are allowed to be trapped in some districts until April 30th, all beaver skins (regardless of where they were taken) must be tagged by May 10th.
What are the special tagging requirements for marten and fisher?
When you obtain your trapping license you will be given 25 temporary marten tags and 10 fisher tags. One of these tags, signed and dated, must be immediately attached to each marten and fisher at the time you remove the animal from the capture site. This temporary tag must match the number indicated on the trapper’s license. This allows you to keep the marten until you are able to have it officially tagged by the Department. Trappers who are not required by law to have a trapping license (residents under 10 years of age and residents trapping on their own land) may use, in lieu of the official temporary tag, a substitute tag (string tag) on which the name and address of the individual has been clearly written in ink.
What if I bring the skins of furbearing animals into Maine from another state or province?
The skins of furbearing animals taken in another state or province must be tagged in that state or province before being brought into Maine. If that state or province has no tagging requirements, you must have the skins tagged in this State. (The tagging of imported fur applies only to those eight species for which Maine requires tagging.) Note: Skins imported by taxidermists solely for taxidermy purposes do not require tagging.
Am I allowed to have a skin tagged before removing it from the carcass?
Yes, you may have a skin tagged while it’s still attached to the carcass, but you may find it more difficult to properly prepare the skin if it has already been tagged.
What about tagging frozen skins?
If a skin will be frozen at the time it is presented for tagging (even if it hasn’t been removed from the carcass), you should insert a popsicle stick, tongue depressor, or similar object from the mouth hole through one of the eye holes before you freeze it. Removal of the stick at the time of tagging allows the tag to be inserted in the skin without thawing it out. Tagging agents may refuse to tag frozen skins which have not been prepared in this manner.
Where do I get my furs tagged?
Except for bobcat and otter, you can get your furs tagged at one of the many fur tagging stations which are located throughout the state. You can find out the location of a fur tagging station in your area by calling the nearest Regional Headquarters. (Numbers are listed on Maine Wildlife Offices.) In addition to fur tagging stations, furs may be tagged at any regional office of the Department and, through prior arrangement, by any Department game warden or wildlife biologist. Bobcat and otter must be tagged by Department personnel.
What if I want to take or ship my furs out of the State?
If your furs have been properly tagged, you are allowed by Maine law to take or ship your furs out of the State, but Federal Law requires an export permit for black bear, bobcat, otter and ermine (weasel) before these animals may be transported outside the United States. For information and permit applications, please contact:
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Office of Management Authority
4401 North Fairfax Drive, Room 420C
Arlington, VA 22203
Regulations in red are new this year.
Purple text indicates an important note.