Furbearer Trapping Regulations

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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.

Permanent Identification Number for Trap Tags

Trappers have the option of using a permanent identification number on their trap tags instead of their name and address. Beginning in 2019, trappers may use their customer identification number (CID) to mark their trap tags if they prefer not to use their name and address. This 7-digit number was assigned to you when you registered to purchase a license. A trapper’s CID number is confidential and the database containing this information can only be accessed by Department personnel. Please remember that marking your trap tags with a CID number is OPTIONAL. You may continue to use tags with your name and address or a permanent 5-digit trapper ID number assigned to you prior to June 1, 2019.

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.


December 1 through February 29


November 15 through February 29

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. Please see Furbearer Hunting Regulations for details regarding electronic bobcat checking and CITIES tagging procedures.


Continuous open season.


Continuous closed season.


November 15 through February 29:

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.


December 1 through February 29


December 1 through February 29


Continuous open season.


November 15 through February 29


December 1 through February 29

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

Raw otter 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 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, the individual harvesting the animal must contact a local Conservation Police Officer through your nearest Department regional office (listed on Virginia DGIF & Contacts). If an otter pelt is required to have a CITES tag affixed, it must be tagged by April 1 of the season of harvest.


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.


November 15 through February 29


Continuous open season for striped skunk.

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


December 1 through February 29

Best Management Practices

Sustaining the Future of Regulated Trapping

Trapping in North America is heavily regulated by state and provincial wildlife agencies, providing a critical wildlife management technique used to:

1) capture wildlife for sustainable use by the public,

2) protect property,

3) recover and protect endangered species,

4) manage population levels, and

5) capture animals for scientific research.

Trapping Best Management Practices (BMPs) are carefully researched recommendations designed to ensure animals are humanely captured. Developed as part of the largest trap research effort ever conducted, BMPs feature the latest scientific information about trapping techniques and equipment, along with practical advice from experienced trappers and wildlife biologists. More than 600 types of traps have been evaluated and trapping BMPs exist for 23 different species of furbearers. Help SPREAD THE WORD about BMPs to sustain the future of regulated trapping methods and modern furbearer management.

For more information visit https://www.fishwildlife.org/afwa-inspires/furbearer-management