Virginia.gov

Furbearer Trapping Seasons

General 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 6 ½ 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 deadfalls 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 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. The Department will assign a unique number to interested trappers for permanent use. To obtain a trapper ID number, contact the Verona Regional Office at (540) 248-9360 for instructions. To ensure confidentiality, permanent trapper ID numbers will only be provided to trappers via a written letter mailed directly to the assignee. ID numbers will NOT be provided to trappers over the telephone or via e-mail. Please remember that this method of tag marking is OPTIONAL and that you may continue to use tags with your name and address, if you prefer.

Virginia Trappers Association Reward Program

Every year, Virginia trappers lose hundreds of traps to thieves. The Virginia Trappers Association is offering a reward, up to $500, for individuals who report trap theft to the Department that results in a successful prosecution. Anyone who sees traps being stolen is encouraged to report it through the Department's violation reporting hotline at 1-800-237-5712 or email at wildcrime@dgif.virginia.gov.

If you encounter traps while in the outdoors, you have a legal obligation to respect the trapper's private property and leave them alone. At the same time, trappers have an ethical obligation not to set traps in areas where they are likely to be encountered by the general public or their pets.

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 29

Bobcat

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 Electronic Checking Requirement for Bobcats for details regarding bobcat checking and tagging procedures.

Coyote

Continuous open season.

Fisher

Continuous closed season.

Fox

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.

Mink

December 1 through February 29

Muskrat

December 1 through February 29

Nutria

Continuous open season

Opossum

November 15 through February 29

Otter

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

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 (listed on page 4). If an otter pelt is required to have a CITES tag affixed, it must by 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 29

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 29