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North Carolina



Nongame Regulations

General Information

Any animal not classified as a game fish, game animal, fur­bearer or game bird is considered to be nongame. There are, however, regulations that apply to the taking and collection of these wildlife resources. For animals not specified elsewhere in this Digest, the following guidelines apply:

  • Nongame Fish, Crustaceans and Mollusks – See Nongame Fish Regulations for infor­mation on collecting nongame fish, crustaceans and mol­lusks for personal use, sale and bait. A Scientific Fish Collection License is needed to take or collect any aquatic animal for scientific purposes. In addition, a special permit is required when the animal is a fresh­water mussel or any endangered, threatened or special concern species.
  • Mammals – A Wildlife Collection License is needed to take or collect any nongame mammal. If the animal is endangered, threatened or of special concern, an Endangered Species permit is required.
  • Birds – Most birds in North Carolina are defined as migratory and thus are protected by federal laws. Call the U.S. Fish and Wild­life Service for more information at 919-856-4786. The excep­tions are the English or House sparrow, pigeon, starling, mute swan, and Eurasian collared dove.
  • Reptiles – A Wildlife Collection License is needed for the take, possession, or transportation of five or more snapping turtles, lizards, or snakes on an annual basis. For reptiles that are endangered, threatened, or of special concern, an Endangered Species permit is required. Limits for snapping turtles are 10 per day and 100 per year. No snapping turtle less than 13 inches (curved top shell length) may be collected. No more than 15 trapping devices may be set per license and devices must be labeled with a waterproof tag showing the licensee’s name, WRC customer number, or collection license number. Traps must be checked daily. Collection licenses for snapping turtles are only available to North Carolina residents.
  • Amphibians – The daily bag limit (from 12:00 noon to 12:00 noon) for taking bullfrogs is 24, with no closed season or license requirement. See General Game Lands Regulations for information and requirements regarding the taking of bullfrogs on game lands. A Wildlife Collection License is needed to take or collect 25 or more frogs (includes toads) or salamanders (includes mudpuppies and “spring lizards”) in larval (tadpole) or adult form. For amphibians that are endangered, threatened or of special concern an Endangered Species permit is required.

Collection Licenses

  • Wildlife Collection License and Scientific Fish Collection License applications are available online at For more information about applying, call 888-248-6834.
  • The list of endangered, threatened and special concern species in North Carolina is online at
  • More information about nongame wildlife or holding animals in captivity is available online at
  • It is not necessary to obtain a Collection License before defend­ing yourself or another from a wildlife threat.

Restricted Species

It is unlawful to import, transport, export, purchase, possess, sell, transfer, or release into public or private waters or lands of the State, any live specimen(s) of Tongueless or African Clawed Frog (Xenopus spp.), Brown Anole (Anolis sagrei), Cuban Treefrog (Osteopilus septentrionalis), any Asian Newts (genera Cynops, Pachytriton, Paramesotriton, Laotriton, Tylototriton), Red-eared Slider (Trachemys scripta elegans), Greenhouse Frogs, or Argentine Black and White Tegus without first obtaining a Restricted Species Permit.

Measuring a Snapping Turtle

Curved Carapace Length

Measure the length of a snapping turtle along the curvature of the carapace (top shell) with a flexible tape measure that conforms to the snapping turtle’s shell from the nuchal scute (the scute directly behind the turtle’s head) to the base of the notch where the two scutes above the tail meet.

Correct turtle carapace length measurement illustration