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Trapping Species

Open Season
(All Dates Inclusive)

Bobcat*, Coyote*, Fox*, Weasel

Nov. 1 – Nov. 30


Nov. 1 – Nov. 22

Mink*, River Otter*

Nov. 1 – Dec. 15


Jan. 1 – April 15
Nov. 1 – April 15, 2012

Muskrat, Opossum,
Raccoon, Skunk

Jan. 1 – Feb. 28
Nov. 1 – Feb. 29, 2012

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.

Trap Types

The only traps which 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 carry with him/her a certificate of completion of the course on Hancock and Bailey traps. 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.

Reporting stolen traps: A trapper must report 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

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


Bobcat may be taken by trapping in Wildlife Management Zones 1–8. Pelts must be sealed within 4 working days of the end of the season.

Sale of Pelts

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.

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.

Law Enforcement and Reporting Violations

Know the current laws and regulations before you trap. 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 ⅛ 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 annual fee for trap registration is $5.00. Renewal fee is $5.00. Make check payable to Comm. of MA—DFW.

Pelt Sealing

Beaver, bobcat, coyote, fisher, fox, mink, and river otter pelts must be sealed within four working days of the end of the season. Pelt sealing is not required for muskrat, opossum, raccoon, skunk, or weasel.

Furbearer Check Stations

Check stations are located at all Wildlife District Headquarters, Bitzer and Sunderland State Fish Hatcheries, Newbury WMA Headquarters, and Westborough Field Headquarters (Monday–Friday excluding holidays). Coyotes may be checked at other locations; visit our website or call Westborough Field Headquarters. See list of check stations at right. Call check station prior to bringing animals for sealing.

Mandatory Trapper Education

The trapper education course is mandatory for:

  • all first-time trappers before they may obtain a trap registration number or trap on the land of another.
  • all first-time Problem Animal Control Agents.
  • 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 a training course in their use. The Bailey and Hancock certificate must be carried when using such traps.

Trapper Education must be taken in Massachusetts. To register for a Trapper Education course call the Hunter Education program at (978) 772-0693.

Furbearer Check Stations

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

Martin Burns WMA Hqtrs—Newbury (978) 465-8012

DFW Field Hqtrs—Westborough (508) 389-6300


Problem Animal
Control Agents

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 in the Wildlife area. Individuals interested in becoming a PAC agent can obtain information on the licensing process from this same area, or call the Westborough Field Headquarters at (508) 389-6300.

Trapping Prohibitions—
It is illegal to:

  1. Trap before 6:00am on opening day of any trapping season.
  2. Possess or have under his 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 and remove all animals trapped in, at least once in each calendar day between the hours of 4:00am and 10:00pm, all traps by him staked out, set, used, tended, placed, or maintained.
  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 1⁄8 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.
  17. Pick up any road-killed furbearers during the closed season, or to pick up 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.


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 attention immediately. Isolate and preserve the dead animal by refrigeration as soon as possible. Contact your local Board of Health.

Regulations in red are new this year.

Purple text indicates an important note.

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