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Furbearer Hunting Regulations

Hunting Regulations Icon Virginia Hunting

Furbearer Hunting Seasons

Legal Methods and Restrictions

Special restrictions apply to specific firearms use during these seasons. See Legal Use of Firearms and Archery Tackle, General Hunting Information, and Local Firearms Ordinances for details.

  • Modern firearms.
  • Arrowguns are allowed.
  • Archery tackle.
  • Muzzleloading firearms.
  • Dogs may be used (except where prohibited, see Hunting with Dogs, General Hunting Information).
  • Electronic calls may be used for bobcat, coyote, fox, and raccoons as long as the call is not attached to or played from a vehicle.
  • Hunting permitted day or night.
  • Lights may be used as long as the light is not attached to or cast from a vehicle.
  • Night vision scopes and laser sights may be used.
  • Sunday hunting of furbearers is permitted on private lands with written permission of the land­owner.
  • No Sunday hunting of furbearers on public lands, except for raccoons.

Bobcat

Bag Limit

Two per hunting party taken between noon one day and noon the following day.

Archery Season

October 6 through 31:

Statewide.

Legal Methods and Restrictions

  • It is unlawful to use dogs when hunting with archery tackle during the bobcat archery season.
  • It is unlawful to have a firearm in possession. (See exception for valid concealed handgun permit holders on General Hunting Information.)
  • Persons with a disability that prevents them from drawing a bow or crossbow may hunt with an arrowgun during the special archery season provided they have in possession an authorization form provided by the Department that has been completed by their physician.

Firearms Season

November 1 through February 28:

Statewide.

Dogs May Not Be Used to Hunt Bobcats

During the firearms season for deer in the counties of Alleghany, Amherst (west of Route 29), Augusta, Bath, Bedford, Botetourt, Campbell (west of Norfolk Southern Railroad), Clarke, Frederick, Highland, Nelson (west of Rt. 151), Page, Pittsylvania (west of Norfolk Southern Railroad), Rockbridge, Rockingham, Shenandoah, and Warren and within the boundaries of the George Washington/Jefferson National Forests.

Electronic Checking Requirement for Bobcats

All hunters or trappers who kill a bobcat are required to report the kill within 24 hours through the Department’s electronic harvest reporting system. Bobcats can be checked with a touch-tone telephone (a rotary phone will not work) by calling the toll-free number 1-866-GOT-GAME (468-4263). Bobcats can also be checked using the mobile app or Internet. Successful hunters and trappers can go to www.gooutdoorsvirginia.com and click on “Game Check & Harvest Reporting.”

Before using the telephone or Internet checking system, you will need your hunting license number, a pen, and a piece of paper to record your confirmation number. If you are exempt from purchasing a license, you will need your date of birth (MM/DD/YYYY) and the last four digits of your Social Security number.

At the end of the check-in session, you will be provided with a confirmation number that is a combination of 6 to 7 letters and numbers. Write this number down and store it in a secure location where it can be retrieved to prove compliance with the checking requirement or to request CITES tags. If your telephone or Internet session is cut off before you get a complete confirmation number, start the session again and continue until the complete confirmation number is obtained. If you have more than one bobcat to check in, you will have the opportunity to report additional animals at the end of the session.

If you plan to take the bobcat to a taxidermist, you must securely attach written documentation to the carcass that includes the full name of the hunter or trapper, date of kill, and the harvest confirmation number.

Bobcats legally killed by landowners outside the season are not required to be checked in using the electronic harvest reporting system. If you plan to take a bobcat to a taxidermist that does not require checking, you must securely attach the same information described above (except for the confirmation number) and a description of how the bobcat was legally obtained.

CITES Tagging Requirement for Bobcats

Raw bobcat pelts and unskinned carcasses that are bought, sold, bartered, traded, solicited for purchase, or transported out of state must also have a CITES tag affixed to each pelt by the trapper or hunter who harvested the animal. A valid confirmation number will be needed to obtain a CITES tag. No CITES tag is needed to have a bobcat mounted by a Virginia taxidermist or to ship a bobcat pelt out-of-state for tanning purposes (unless required by the state where the tannery is located).

Before a sale, the trapper or hunter harvesting the animal needs to obtain a CITES tag. To obtain a CITES tag for a bobcat, contact License Sales and Information at (804) 367-1000 during regular business hours. If you cannot reach License Sales and Information, you can contact a Conservation Police Officer through your nearest Department regional office (listed on Contact Information) or your local Sheriff’s Office (after hours). Every effort will be made to provide CITES tags as quickly as possible, but we may not be able to accommodate short notice requests received on weekends or after hours. Nonresident hunters or trappers who need to leave the state before they are able to secure a CITES tag should plan to leave the bobcat pelt or carcass in the care of someone in Virginia until a tag can be attached.

Make sure that you have a valid harvest confirmation number for each CITES tag requested. Tags ordered from our Customer Service Center will be mailed directly to the hunter or trapper, along with instructions for tagging. If a bobcat pelt is required to have a CITES tag affixed, it must be tagged by April 1 of the season of harvest.

Coyote

Season

Continuous open season except on National Forest lands and Department lands. Coyote hunting on National Forest lands and Department lands is permitted from September 1 through March 10 and during the spring turkey season. Coyotes may also be hunted on Department lands during the spring squirrel season unless otherwise posted (see Small Game Hunting Regulations for list of open areas).

Coyote Bounty Law

Coyote bounties are not administered by DGIF. Counties have the option of establishing their own coyote bounty system. For more information, hunters and trappers should contact their County Administrator or County Board of Supervisors.

Fisher

Continuous closed season for hunting or trapping fisher. Please report verifiable sightings (see below).

Do You Have a Trail Camera Photo of This Animal?

If you have a trail camera photo of this animal, we would like to hear from you. The fisher (Martes pennanti) once occurred in the western mountains of our state, but populations were likely extinct by the 1900s. After a long absence, fishers appear to be reestablishing themselves as part of our fauna.

Fishers are members of the Mustelid or weasel family. They are stocky animals with an elongated body and relatively short legs. Adult fishers are about the size of a fox, typically weighing 4 to 12 pounds and measuring 30 to 47 inches from the nose to the tip of the tail. Their fur is dark brown and black. The face and shoulders often have a golden or silver sheen. The underside may have patches of white or cream colored fur.

Please note that it is illegal to hunt or trap fishers in Virginia. If you have verifiable information (i.e. trail camera photos, video, etc.) regarding occurrences of fishers in Virginia, please contact our furbearer biologist, Mike Fies, at (540) 248-9390 or by e-mail at mike.fies@dgif.virginia.gov.

Fox

Firearms Season

November 1 through February 28:

Closed in Albemarle, Clarke, Culpeper, Fauquier (except Quantico), Loudoun, Louisa, and Rappahannock counties.

Dogs May Not Be Used to Hunt Foxes:

During the firearms season for deer on the Gathright, Goshen, Highland, and Little North Mountain Wildlife Management Areas and within the boundaries of the George Washington/Jefferson National Forests.

Chase-Only Season

NO FOXES MAY BE TAKEN EXCEPT DURING THE FIREARMS SEASON.

Licenses Required

License requirements are the same as those for hunting foxes with firearms. However, a Fox Hunting License to hunt foxes on horseback with hounds without firearms may be purchased in lieu of a basic hunting license. This license exempts the licensee from having to complete the hunter education program.

Continuous open season statewide (including Sundays) unless noted below.

  • Closed March 1 through October 31 and during the firearms season for deer on the George Washington/Jefferson National Forests and on Gathright, Goshen, Highland, and Little North Mountain WMAs.
  • Closed March 1 through October 31 on G. Richard Thompson and Rapidan WMAs.

Restrictions

  • Unlawful to have in possession a firearm when hunting fox outside of the firearms fox season. Possession shall include, but not be limited to, having any firearm in or on one’s person, vehicle, or convey­ance. (See exception for valid concealed handgun permit holders on General Hunting Information.)

Opossum

Firearms Season

October 15 through March 10:

Statewide.

Raccoon

Bag Limits

East of the Blue Ridge: Two per hunter taken between noon one day and noon the following day.

West of the Blue Ridge: Two per hunting party (individual or organized) taken between noon one day and noon the following day.

Firearms Season

October 15 through March 10:

Statewide.

Legal Methods and Restrictions

  • Raccoons may be hunted on Sundays.
  • Lights may be used as long as the light is not attached to or cast from a vehicle.

Chase-Only Seasons

NO RACCOON MAY BE TAKEN EXCEPT DURING THE FIREARMS SEASON.

Continuous open season statewide (including Sundays):

Except on Department-controlled lands west of the Blue Ridge Mountains and on National Forest lands.

Licenses Required

License requirements are the same as those

for hunting raccoons with firearms.

August 1 through September 29 (including Sundays):

On Department-controlled lands west of the Blue Ridge Mountains and on National Forest lands where bear hound training is permitted (see Bear Hunting Firearms Seasons).

Restrictions

It is unlawful to have in possession a firearm, bow, axe, or any tree climbing device when chasing raccoons outside of the firearms season. Possession shall include, but not be limited to, having these devices in or on one’s person, vehicle, or conveyance while engaged in the act of chasing. (See exception for valid concealed handgun permit holders on General Hunting Information.)

Skunk

Season

Continuous open season to hunt striped skunk except on National Forest lands and Department lands.

Striped skunk hunting on National Forest lands and Department lands is permitted from September 1 through March 10 and during the spring turkey season. Striped skunks may also be hunted on Department lands during the spring squirrel season unless otherwise posted. (See Small Game Hunting Regulations for list of open areas.)

Spotted Skunk Information Needed

Our Department would like to know if you have seen the animal in this photograph. The Eastern spotted skunk (Spilogale putorius), also known as a “civet cat,” is one of two species of skunks found in Virginia. Most people are familiar with the common striped skunk (Mephitis mephitis) that is statewide in distribution. The spotted skunk, however, is lesser known and generally found only in the western portion of the state. They are small, slender animals, usually not much larger than a squirrel (1 to 2½ pounds) and noticeably smaller than most striped skunks. The glossy black fur has four to six broken white stripes along the back and sides that resemble “spots.” The tail usually has a white tip and the head often has an inverted triangular white patch above the nose. The status of spotted skunks in Virginia is largely unknown, but populations are believed to have declined precipitously during the last half of the 20th century. Loss of suitable habitat has almost certainly contributed to this decline, but may not completely explain the spotted skunk’s decrease in numbers. Please note that it is illegal to shoot or trap spotted skunks (unless they are causing damage) and their pelts may not be sold. If you have information regarding occurrences of spotted skunks in Virginia, particularly trail camera photos or other verifiable evidence, please contact our furbearer biologist, Mike Fies, at (540) 248-9390 or by e-mail at mike.fies@dgif.virginia.gov.

Continuous closed season for taking spotted skunks, and the pelts of spotted skunks may not be sold.

 

Electronic Calls

Electronic calls may be used to hunt bobcats, coyotes, crows, foxes and raccoons, but not other species. With the exception of crows (see Small Game Hunting Regulations), written permission of the landowner is required to hunt with electronic calls on private lands. Electronic calls may also be used on public lands (except where specifically prohibited) during periods when the use of firearms is allowed. Electronic calls may not be attached to or played from a vehicle.

 

Q: Are laser sights, night vision scopes, and infrared scopes legal to use when legally hunting at night?

A: Yes, these devices are legal to use when legally hunting at night. The following animals are legal to hunt at night: bobcat, coyote, feral hog, fox, opossum, raccoon, and skunk.