Rhode Island Hunting
Our mission is to ensure that the Freshwater, Marine, and Wildlife resources of the State of Rhode Island will be conserved and managed for equitable and sustainable use.
Significant Regulation Changes & Highlights 2019-2020
- The daily bag limit for mallards has been reduced to two (2) of which one (1) may be a hen.
- The daily bag limit for pintails has been reduced to one (1).
- The season for brant has been reduced to thirty (30) days.
- A season and daily bag limit have been established for red squirrel.
- Licensing, game bird importation, and other criteria applicable to shooting preserves and hunting clubs have been revised and clarified.
- The fall archery turkey season has been extended to October 31.
- Successful completion of a bow hunter education course is required for anyone using archery equipment to hunt any species for which archery is a permitted method of take.
- Seasons and bag limits have been established for green frog, bullfrog, and snapping turtles. Harvesting snapping turtles for commercial purposes is prohibited.
- Non-toxic shot is required per Federal regulation for all dove, duck and goose hunting in Field 1 at South Shore Management Area.
Antlerless deer – deer having no antlers or antlers less than three (3) inches in length.
Archery Proficiency testing – the measurable demonstration of skills with archery equipment using a set of standards as determined by the hunter education program.
Bearded turkey – a wild turkey that carries a visible beard, i.e., a tuft of stiff filament-like feathers projecting outward and downward from the center of the chest.
Conibear-type trap – “conibear” model traps and similar body-gripping traps and devices.
Daily bag limit – the maximum number of game of a single species or combination (aggregate) of species permitted to be taken by one person in any one day during the open season.
Driving deer/cooperative drive – to pursue, drive, chase, or otherwise frighten or cause a deer to move in a direction toward a person or persons known to be waiting for deer.
Field possession limit – the maximum number of game of a single species or combination of species permitted to be possessed by one person while in the field, in one’s vehicle, boat, trailer or other means of transportation when traveling between the field and one’s personal abode. This shall be equal to the daily bag or season limit.
Junior Hunter – any person 12-14 years of age who possesses a hunter safety education certificate. Junior hunters may only hunt in the immediate company of an adult, 21 years of age or older who possesses a current RI hunting license.
Personal abode – one’s principal or ordinary home or dwelling place, as distinguished from one’s temporary or transient place of abode or dwelling such as a hunting club, or any club house, cabin, tent or trailer house used as a hunting club, or any hotel, motel or rooming house used during a hunting, pleasure or business trip.
Possess or Possession – to exercise dominion or control over any wild animal commencing at the time at which a decision is made not to return the wild animal to the immediate vicinity from which it was taken and lasting up until its ultimate disposition. The decision to possess or return the animal must be made at the first practical opportunity.
Season bag limit – the maximum number of game of a single species permitted to be taken by one person over the duration of the open season.
Tidal Waters – waters of the State extending from mean high water to the seaward limit of three (3) miles.
Hunter Safety Course Requirements & Licensing
Persons applying for a hunting license or archery permit for the first time or not having been a member of the armed forces must complete a course in safe hunting or archery practices and have been issued a Hunter Education Certificate to obtain a license. License applicants must present a valid hunter safety certificate from Rhode Island or other state, or possess a previous hunting license from RI or other state, or present proof of current or honorably discharged military status. Applicants for an archery deer permit or fall archery turkey permit must provide proof of successful completion of an Archery Safety Education course. A list of hunter safety classes, dates, and locations is available from the Hunter Safety Office: (401) 539-0019 or on the web: http://www.dem.ri.gov/huntereducation.
- No loaded rifles or shotguns in or on vehicles (RIGL 20-13-8).
- No shooting at, hunting, or pursuing game along, upon, or across a public highway (RIGL 20-13-9).
- It is a violation of law, punishable by a fine and imprisonment, to fire “into” land for which one does not have landowner permission.
- No hunting on posted land without landowner permission or state parks, with the exception of undeveloped state parks as denoted in the regulations, removing or defacing posters thereon, or doing willful damage to property (RIGL 11-44-4,5).
- No more than five (5) persons to hunt in unison (RIGL 20-13-11).
- Target or trap shooting on state lands is only allowed on provided ranges (RIGL 32-2-4).
- No hunting while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs (RIGL 20-13-10).
- Spotlighting for wild animals and birds is prohibited (statewide and islands) from September 15 through the last day of February (RIHR 9.7.2.F).
- Shooting at any animal at anytime while such animal is on a telephone or electric line, pole, or tower or any communication device (RIHR 9.17.H).
- The importation, exportation, possession, liberation, or sale of any mute swan and/or eggs thereof, or live pen-reared or hybrid wild turkey and/or eggs thereof (RIHR 9.17.B).
- Importing of live birds or animals without permit (RIGL 20-17-9).
- Taking of birds by any method other than shotgun, bow and arrow, or falconry without permit (RIGL 20-14-7).
- The sale of game, except as provided (RIGL 20-13-14).
- Feeding and baiting wildlife in the state of Rhode Island is not permitted at any time for any purposes except as defined (RIHR 9.17.J).
Discharge and Firearm Restrictions
- It is unlawful to carry a loaded firearm or archery equipment outside legal shooting hours. Provided the hunter is stationary, his / her firearm or archery equipment may be loaded within fifteen (15) minutes prior to legal shooting hours (RIHR 9.17.L).
- The use or possession of laser sights that project a beam or night-vision equipment while hunting is prohibited (RIHR 9.7.2.G).
- No lead shot larger than No. 2 at any time (RIGL 20-13-13).
- No rifles larger than .22 caliber rimfire at any time; however, from Apr. 1 to Sept. 30, (both dates inclusive), centerfire rifles no larger than .229 caliber may be used during daylight hours (RIGL 20-13-13).
- Discharge of a firearm within 500 feet of an occupied dwelling without written permission is prohibited (RIGL 20-13-7, RIGL 20-15-1).
- Archery hunting, within 200 feet of an occupied dwelling without written permission is prohibited (RIGL 20-15-1).
Important Laws & Regulations Pertaining to Wildlife
The Lacey Act of 1900, the first federal game law, regulates interstate and international commerce in wildlife. The term “wildlife”, for the purposes of the act, means any wild animal, wild bird, amphibian, reptile, mollusk, or crustacean, or their dead bodies, parts, eggs, or offspring, but does not include migratory birds for which protection is afforded under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Briefly, action can be taken against anyone who transports, ships, or sells wildlife in interstate or foreign commerce contrary to state or foreign laws, or transports any package not properly labeled or tagged.
The Migratory Bird Treaty Act is an international agreement that was signed in 1918 for the protection of migratory bird populations. Migratory birds are protected by the federal government with provisions allowing state regulation. All birds, their parts, nests, and eggs are protected, except as provided by open hunting seasons.
Reptiles & Amphibians
A current Rhode Island Hunting License is required to take snapping turtles. A current Rhode Island Hunting or Fishing License is required to take green frogs and bullfrogs. The possession, removal from the wild, or killing, for any purpose, of any other native reptile or amphibian (including their nests and eggs) is prohibited except by special permit (RIHR 9.15.B).
The snapping turtle season is closed May 15 – July 15. The season bag limit is six (6) turtles, and at any time shall be limited to turtles with a minimum carapace length of thirteen (13) inches. Take is allowed by turtle trap, hand, hand-held dip net, snagging, jugging, and bow and arrow. Traps must include a tag with name and address of trapper and be set in a manner that allows all turtles within access to the surface to breathe air (RIHR 9.15.C). Take for the purpose of sale or any other purpose other than personal consumption is prohibited.
The green frog and bullfrog season is closed June 1 – July 31. The daily bag limit is 20 frogs (both species combined). Take is allowed by hand, hand-held dip net, spearing, hook and line, and bow and arrow.
Fluorescent Orange Requirements
Solid fluorescent hunter orange must be worn above the waist and be visible in all directions. Examples are: a hat that covers 200 square inches or a combination of hat and vest covering 500 square inches. Fluorescent camouflage does not meet this requirement.
- 200sq. in. by small game hunters during the small game season, fall turkey hunters while traveling, and muzzleloader deer hunters during the muzzleloader deer season.
- 200sq. in. by archers when traveling to/from elevated stands during the muzzleloader deer season. Once in an elevated stand, archery deer hunters are exempt from the orange requirement during the muzzleloader deer season.
- 500sq. in. by all hunters (including archers) and all users of management areas and undeveloped state parks during all portions of shotgun deer seasons.
- Hunters using pop-up blinds during the firearms deer season must display 200 square inches of fluorescent orange visible on the outside of the blind from all directions. Hunters must also wear orange in accordance with the rules for the specific seasons while in the blind.
- Exemptions: Raccoon hunters when hunting at night, crow hunters while hunting over decoys, spring turkey hunters, first segment dove hunters, and waterfowl hunters while hunting from a boat or a blind, over water or field, when done in conjunction with decoys. Fluorescent orange is not required in areas limited to archery-only hunting by regulation.
- All other users of State Management Areas and designated undeveloped State Parks, including but not limited to: hikers, bikers, and horseback riders are required to wear two hundred (200) square inches of solid daylight fluorescent orange from the second Saturday in September to the last day of February and the third Saturday in April to the last day in May, annually. During the shotgun deer season, five hundred (500) square inches are required to be worn by all users.