Furbearer Hunting and Trapping Regulations



Furbearer Hunters and Trappers:  We Need Your Help!

Kentucky Fish & Wildlife is collecting lower canines from harvested bobcats and river otters for a population study. Please contact the department at 1-800-858-1549 ext. 4528 or email Laura.Palmer@ky.gov with your name and mailing address to request a sample packet and instructions. Thank you for your contribution to furbearer management.

Furbearer Teeth

 

 

 




NEW THIS YEAR
  • Please see below for details about changes to Legal Methods and Equipment for Trapping Furbearers.
  • Please see below for details about changes to telecheck and Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) protocols for furbearers.
SEASON DATES & RESTRICTIONS

 

Current Season Dates​ - Searchable Application

Hunting

Raccoon & Opossum - October 1 through the last day of February
Coyote - Year-round, day or night (Exceptions apply)
Bobcat - One half-hour before sunrise the fourth Saturday of November through the last day of February, daylight hours only
River Otter, Muskrat, Mink, Beaver, Red Fox, Gray Fox, Weasel and Striped Skunk  - One-half hour before sunrise on the third day of modern gun deer season through the last day of February, daylight hours only
 
Free Youth Hunting and Trapping Week - Seven consecutive days beginning on the Saturday after Christmas
 

Trapping

All furbearer species  - One-half hour before sunrise on the third day of modern gun deer season through the last day of February
 
Sample Trap Tags 
 

SPECIAL HUNTING RESTRICTIONS

(Daylight hours are defined as 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset)
During modern gun deer season, raccoon and opossum hunters may not hunt during daylight hours. Night hunting on Friday, Nov. 10, 2017 shall conclude by 30 minutes before sunrise on Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017, which is when shooting hours open for modern gun deer season.
 
A hunter shall not use a light from a boat to take raccoon or opossum.
A person shall not use the following while chasing raccoon or opossum from noon on March 1 through September 30: a firearm, a slingshot, tree climber or any device to kill, injure, or force a raccoon or opossum from a tree or den.
 
Coyotes may be hunted year-round with no bag limit.
They can be hunted after daylight hours using lights or night vision equipment from Feb. 1 – May 31. Shotguns are the only legal firearm for night coyote hunting but a shell containing a single projectile may not be used.
 
Night hunting for coyotes is prohibited on Kentucky lands managed by Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, Daniel Boone National Forest, George Washington and Jefferson National Forests, Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area, Clarks River National Wildlife Refuge and Reelfool National Wildlife Refuge, including Beaver Creek, Cane Creek, Mill Creek,  Pioneer Weapons and Redbird wildlife management areas (WMAs).
 
Hand or mouth-operated calls and electronic calls that imitate wounded prey or coyote calls are legal. It is legal to hunt coyotes over animal carcasses. Animal carcasses are considered bait. A hunter shall not place or distribute bait or otherwise participate in baiting wildlife on all WMAs, Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, Daniel Boone National Forest, Jefferson National Forest, Land Between The Lakes and state parks open to hunting
 
FURBEARER BAG LIMITS
Raccoon & Opossum No limit
Coyote No limit
Bobcat 5; no more than 3 of which shall be taken with a gun
River Otter 10; only 6 of which can be taken from Otter Zone 2
Muskrat, Mink, Beaver, Red Fox, Gray Fox, Weasel & Striped Skunk No limit
   

LEGAL METHODS and EQUIPMENT FOR HUNTING FURBEARERS

(see Special Hunting Restrictions section for exceptions)

  • Centerfire or rimfire gun (daylight hours only).
  • Muzzle-loading rifle or handgun (daylight hours only).
  • Muzzle-loading or breech-loading shotguns no larger than 10 gauge.  Breech-loading shotguns must be plugged to hold a maximum of three shells (two in magazine and one in chamber).  There is no limit on shot size.  Shotguns must be shoulder fired.
  • Shot shells with a single projectile may only be used during daylight hours.
  • Bow and arrow or crossbow.
  • Air guns with pellets that are at least .22 caliber in size.
  • Hand or mouth operated calls, electronic calls, or attracting devices.
  • Falconry.
 
   

 

River Otter Zone Map  
 

LEGAL METHODS and EQUIPMENT FOR TRAPPING FURBEARERS

Trappers may use lights from boats or vehicles to check traps.

Traps may not be set in trails/paths commonly used by people or domestic animals.


New This Year:  There are no restrictions on the size or type of trap used as a water set, except that any body-gripping trap greater than 20 inches wide must be set so the trap is completely submerged under water. A water set is a trap set in the water of a river, stream, pond, lake, wetland or other body of water so that a portion of the trap body is underwater. 

The following equipment is permitted for dry-land sets.  A dry land set is a trap set so that no portion of the trap touches the water of a river, stream, pond, lake, wetland or other water course.

  • Deadfall
  • Wire cage or box trap.
  • Foothold traps with a maximum inside jaw spread of six (6) inches measured perpendicular to the hinges.
  •  On private land, a body-gripping trap with a maximum inside jaw spread of 7½ inches measured parallel with the trigger. • On wildlife management and outdoor recreation areas, a bodygripping trap with a maximum inside jaw spread of 5¼ inches
  • Body-gripping traps with a maximum inside jaw spread of seven and one-half (7.5) inches measured parallel with the trigger.
  • New This Year:  On wildlife management and outdoor recreation areas, a body-gripping trap with a maximum inside jaw spread of 5 1/4 inches.
  • Snare. A snare is a wire, cable, or string with a knot, loop, or a single piece closing device, the deployment of which is or is not spring-assisted, but any spring-assisted device is not for the purpose of applying tension to the closing device.
On wildlife management and outdoor recreation areas, dry land sets may not be placed closer than 10 feet apart. 
 
New This Year:  On private land, dry land sets may not be placed closer than 10 feet apart unless the person trapping has written permission from the landowner or the landowner’s designee, except there shall not be more than three traps set within any 10-foot spacing. The trap spacing requirement does not apply to wire cage or box traps or on properties of 5 acres of less.​
 
 

SPECIAL TRAPPING RESTRICTIONS

  • All traps must bear a metal tag giving either the name and address of the trapper, or a unique identification number issued by the department AND the 1-800-25-ALERT phone number.  Apply for the Trap Tag Identification number here
  • Any trap found without a tag can be immediately confiscated by the department without a court order.
  • All traps must be visited at least once every twenty-four (24) hours and all animals removed.
  • Coyotes can only be trapped during furbearer trapping seasons.
  • Trappers must harvest furbearers upon capture, unless they possess a captive wildlife permit from Kentucky Fish and Wildlife.
  • Spotted skunks are protected year round and may not be taken or possessed. Report incidental trappings to Kentucky Fish and Wildlife.
  • It is illegal to intentionally obstruct or disrupt the right of a person to lawfully take wildlife by trapping.
 

TELECHECK and CITES TAGGING

Harvested bobcats and otters must be telechecked by calling 1-800-245-4263 by midnight on the day the animal is recovered, before processing the carcass and before transporting the raw fur, pelt or unskinned carcass out of Kentucky.  A hunter or trapper who wants to have a bobcat or otter mounted shall provide his or her name, telephone number and telecheck confirmation number to the taxidermist. Taxidermists cannot legally accept an unchecked otter or bobcat for mounting.

A Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) tag, issued by Kentucky Fish and Wildlife, must be attached to the raw fur of any bobcat or river otter taken in Kentucky, if the hunter or trapper intends to sell or export internationally.

To complete and submit a CITES tag click here or call 1-800-858-1549, and provide the animal’s telecheck confirmation number. 

New This Year:  A CITES tag must be attached to the raw fur, pelt or unskinned carcass of any bobcat or river otter taken in Kentucky upon receipt of the tag from Kentucky Fish and Wildlife per the instructions provided by the department and remain attached until it is processed or exported outside the United States.

Possession of an unused bobcat or otter CITES tag is prohibited.

A person who transfers, but does not sell, a river otter or bobcat to another person or taxidermist, is not required to request a CITES tag. But, this person must attach a handmade carcass tag to the animal that contains the telecheck confirmation number and the hunter or trapper’s name and phone number. 

Furbearer Teeth

FURBEARER HUNTERS AND TRAPPERS: WE NEED YOUR HELP!

Kentucky Fish & Wildlife is collecting lower canines from harvested bobcats and river otters for a population study. Please contact the department at 1-800-858-1549 to request a sample packet and instructions. Thank you for your contribution to furbearer management.

 

BUYING and SELLING HIDES

There is no time restriction on the holding of raw furs of furbearers by a trapper or hunter after the close of furbearer season. Raw furs may be sold only to licensed taxidermists, licensed fur buyers or licensed fur processors.

FREE YOUTH WEEK

Resident and nonresident youth hunters and trappers ages 15 and younger may hunt and trap small game without a hunting or trapping license for seven consecutive days starting the Saturday after Christmas.

Please refer to the hunter orange clothing law section for guidelines.

Youth hunters must comply with all equipment regulations and bag limits for furbearers when hunting or trapping. Hunter education is not required for license-exempt hunters. Adults accompanying youth hunters/trappers during the Free Youth Hunting & Trapping Week do not need a license if they are not hunting/trapping.