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Furbearer Hunting & Trapping 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.

  • Modern firearms.
  • Archery tackle.
  • Muzzleloading firearms.
  • Dogs may be used (except where prohibited, see Hunting with Dogs.
  • 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.
  • No hunting of raccoons on Sundays, except until 2:00 a.m. on Sunday mornings.
  • Sunday hunting of furbearers other than raccoons is permitted on private lands with written permission of the land­owner.
  • No Sunday hunting of furbearers on public lands, except raccoons, which may be hunted until 2:00 a.m. on Sunday mornings.

Bobcat

Bag Limit

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

Archery Season

October 7 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.)

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 Internet. Successful hunters and trappers can access the Department’s webpage at www.dgif.virginia.gov, then click on “Hunting,” then “Check Game Online” under the “Links” tab.

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 driver’s license number or 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 letter followed by 11 digits. 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.

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.

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).

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, G. Richard Thompson, Highland, and Little North Mountain WMAs.
  • Closed March 1 through October 31 on Rapidan WMA.

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.)

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 until 2:00 a.m. Sunday mornings.
  • 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 30 (including Sundays):

On Department-controlled lands west of the Blue Ridge Mountains and on National Forest lands where bear hound training is permitted.

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.)

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.

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

CITES Tagging Requirement for Bobcats

Bobcat pelts that are sold, traded, or transported out of state must also have a CITES tag affixed to each 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).

To obtain a CITES tag for a bobcat, contact License Sales and Information at (866) 721-6911 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 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.

 

General Trapping Regulations

  • Residents under 16 years of age do not need a license to trap when accompanied by any person 18 years of age or older who possesses a valid state or county license to trap. Residents under 16 years of age who hold a resident junior trapping license are not required to be accompanied by a licensed adult while trapping. County residents 65 years of age and over do not need a license to trap on private property in their county of residence. Resident or nonresident landowners, and their spouses, children, grandchildren, spouses of such children and grandchildren, and the landowner’s parents do not need a license to trap within the boundaries of their own lands.
  • Trapping is allowed on any day of the week, including Sundays. In addition, trappers may shoot wild animals caught in traps on any day of the week (including Sundays) in order to dispatch them. No additional license is required other than a valid Virginia trapping license (unless you are license exempt).
  • Trapping on Department-owned or controlled lands and waters is allowed under the regulations of the Board unless prohibited by posted rules. The posted rules may require written authorization to trap on some areas or may specify other restrictions. National Forest lands will be open during the regular trapping seasons. Check local ordinances before trapping near highways.
  • It is lawful to set traps in water from December 1 through the last day of February, both dates inclusive, and at any time within the incorporated limits of any city or town in the Commonwealth and in the counties of Arlington, Chesterfield, Fairfax, Henrico, James City, Loudoun, Prince William, Spotsylvania, Stafford, Roanoke, and York, except as otherwise specifically provided by Department permit or by local ordinances.
  • Any person setting or in possession of a steel foothold or body gripping trap or snare shall have it marked by means of a nonferrous metal tag bearing his name and address or a permanent identification number issued by the Department. This requirement shall not apply to land­owners on their own land, nor to a bona fide tenant or lessee within the bounds of land rented or leased by him, nor to anyone transporting any such trap from its place of purchase.
  • Trappers must visit all traps once each day and remove all animals caught therein, except for completely submerged body-gripping traps which must be visited once every 72 hours.
  • The use of body gripping traps with a jaw spread in excess of 7½ inches is prohibited except when such traps are at least half submerged by water.
  • It is unlawful to set on land any steel foothold trap with teeth set upon the jaws or with a maximum inside jaw spread exceeding 6½ inches measured perpen­dicular to the hinges.
  • It is unlawful to set above the ground any body gripping trap with a jaw spread in excess of 5 inches when using any bait, lure or scent. However, baited body-gripping traps with a jaw spread greater than 5 inches and up to 7½ inches may be used within an enclosure with openings no greater than 60 square inches and the trap trigger recessed at least 12 inches from all openings (see diagram). Traps must be staked to prevent enclosures from turning over and may only be used on private lands with written permission of the landowner.
  • It is unlawful to intentionally set foothold traps, body-gripping traps, or snares within 50 feet of an animal carcass or animal parts, unless the carcass or parts are completely covered at the time the trap is set or visited. For the purposes of this requirement, completely covered is defined as not being visible from above. A carcass is defined as the body, portions of the body, meat, organs, or viscera of any animal, including fish. Feathers (including those with attached skin or entire bird wings), hair (with or without skin or hide), and bones that include no attached meat, organs, or viscera, are excluded from this definition.
  • No deadfall traps may be used. Snares set on land must have loops 12 inches or less in diameter with the bottom of the snare loop no more than 12 inches above ground level. Snares with the top of the snare loop set higher than 12 inches above ground level must include a single-piece lock that is not power-assisted, a cable stop that prevents the snare loop from closing smaller than 2½ inches in diameter, and a break-away device that has been tested to break or disassemble at no more than 285 pounds pull. Land snares may only be used with written permission of the landowner.
  • It shall be lawful to kill wild animals legally captured in live traps using any humane method of dispatch not specifically prohibited by law.
  • It is unlawful to willfully molest, damage, or remove any trap, or any lawfully caught bird or animal from or in any way disturb traps or snares legally set by another person.
  • It is unlawful to shoot a rifle or pistol at wild birds or animals on or over public inland waters; however, a licensed trapper may shoot a .22 caliber rimfire rifle or pistol on or over public inland waters for the purpose of dispatching a trapped animal.

Trapping Seasons

There is a continuous open season to trap beaver, muskrat, opossum, and raccoon within the incorporated limits of any city or town in the Commonwealth, and in the counties of Arlington, Chesterfield, Fairfax, Henrico, James City, Loudoun, Prince William, Spotsylvania, Stafford, Roanoke, and York.

When beavers are damaging crops or lands, the owner of the premises, his agent, or tenant, may kill the animals or have them killed. This includes shooting, except in areas where the discharge of firearms is prohibited.

Beaver

December 1 through February 28

Bobcat

November 15 through February 28

All trapped bobcats must be reported within 24 hours through the Department’s electronic harvest reporting system. A CITES tag may also be required for some bobcats.

Coyote

Continuous open season.

Fisher

Continuous closed season.

Fox

November 15 through February 28:

Fox trapping is prohibited in Clarke (except on G. Richard Thompson WMA), Fauquier (except on Chester F. Phelps WMA and G. Richard Thompson WMA), Loudoun, and Rappahannock counties.

Mink

December 1 through February 28

Muskrat

December 1 through February 28

Nutria

Continuous open season.

Opossum

November 15 through February 28

Otter

December 1 through February 28

Bag Limit: The season bag limit shall be 4 otters in all counties west of the Blue Ridge. There is no season bag limit in counties east of the Blue Ridge.

CITES Tagging Requirement for Otter

Otter pelts that are sold, traded, or transported out of state must also have a CITES tag affixed to each animal. No CITES tag is needed to have an otter mounted by a Virginia taxidermist or ship an otter pelt out-of-state for tanning purposes (unless required by the state where the tannery is located). To obtain a CITES tag, contact a local Conservation Police Officer through your nearest Department regional office. If an otter pelt is required to have a CITES tag affixed, it must be tagged by April 1.

Rabbit

May be taken with box traps from October 15 through January 31, provided no traps shall be set on the lands of another without written permission of the landowner. Trappers using box traps for rabbits do not need a license.

Raccoon

November 15 through February 28

Skunk

Continuous open season for striped skunk.

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

Weasel

December 1 through February 28