coyote in field

Furbearer Hunting and Trapping

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​INTERESTED IN FURBEARERS?

As defined by 301 KAR 2:251, a "​'Furbearer' means mink, muskrat, beaver, raccoon, opossum, gray fox, red fox, least weasel, long-tailed weasel, river otter, bobcat, coyote, or striped skunk."​ Read below for specific hunting regulations about this hunting and trapping program in Kentucky.



​Raccoon & OpossumOct. 1, 2023 - Feb. 29, 2024, day* or night (exceptions apply)​​​​One-half hour before sunrise on Nov. 13, 2023 - Feb. 29, 2024
​CoyoteYear-round, day or night (exceptions apply)
​BobcatOne-half hour before sunrise on Nov. 18, 2023 - Feb. 29, 2024, daylight hours only**
​​River Otter, Muskrat, Mink, Beaver, Red Fox, Gray Fox, Weasel & Striped Skunk​One-half hour before sunrise on Nov. 13, 2023 - Feb. 29, 2024
Free Youth Hunting
​ & Trapping Week
​Dec. 30, 2023 - Jan. 5, 2024
​​​​​ *See exception in Special Hunting Restrictions
​**Bobcat permit required for bobcat hunters
Raccoon & OpossumNo limit
CoyoteNo limit
Bobcat5; 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

River Otter Zone Map


(see Special Hunting Restrictions section for exceptions)

  • Centerfire or rimfire gun
  • Muzzle-loading rifle or handgun
  • S​hotguns 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 projectiles (slugs) 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


Threatened or Endangered Species

The eastern spotted skunk, a rare species found in eastern Kentucky, is a protected species and may not be taken. All federally threatened or endangered species are protected under state and federal laws and may not be take​n. ​For more information about the agency's efforts to improve statewide biodiversity and protect threatened or endangered species, please review the Kentucky State Wildlife Action ​Plan (SWAP). ​​​​

​ ​
Muskrat Credit Jessica Bolser, USFWS

Do you trap muskrats?​

The Kentucky Department of Fish​ and Wildlife Resources is collecting muskrat carcasses to examine muskrat population health and abundance. Check below for more information about our Muskrat Study.

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Furbearer Teeth


Kentucky Fish & Wildlife is collecting lower jaws from hunted and trapped 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.​


(Daylight hours are defined as 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset.)

On Raccoon and Opossum​

During modern gun deer season, raccoon and opossum hunters may not hunt during daylight hours. Night hunting on Friday, Nov. 11, 2022 shall conclude by 30 minutes before sunrise on Saturday, Nov. 12, which is when shooting hours open for modern gun deer season.

A hunter shall not use a light from a boat to take a 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.

On Bobcat

Bobcat hunters must carry a valid hunting license (unless license exempt) and a valid bobcat hunting permit while hunting. Bobcat permits are free. Permits are available online at in the license purchase section. Hunters and trappers are asked to submit jaws of all harvested bobcats for population studies. Bobcat age will be provided to the harvester. A hunter or trapper who submits lower jaws from all their harvested bobcats in a single season to the department may receive one (1) additional bobcat to the bag limit for the following season for every two animals harvested. Jaw samples from all harvested bobcats must be received by the department by March 15 per instructions provided to qualify for the increased bag limit. Increased bag limits are non-transferable. Hunters and trappers must confirm an increased bag limit for the following season online through MyProfile at

On Coyote​

Coyotes may be hunted year-round on public and private land, day or night, with no bag limit. Hunters may only use artificial light or other means designed to make wildlife visible at night from Dec. 1 – March 31, and May 16 – June 30. Artificial light or other means designed to make wildlife visible at night cannot be connected to or cast from a mechanized vehicle. 

Coyote hunters with valid Mobility-Impaired Access Permits or Hunting Methods Exemption Vehicle Permits may use a stationary vehicle as a hunting platform and may use lights or other means designed to make wildlife visible at night so long as the means used are not connected to the vehicle.

On public lands (if open to nighttime coyote hunting) after daylight hours, a person shall not use any equipment other than a bow, crossbow, or shotgun loaded with a multiple projectile shell. 

On private land after daylight hours, coyote hunters may only use a bow, crossbow or shotgun loaded with pelleted shells. However, from Dec. 1 – March 31, and May 16 – June 30, hunters on private land at night may also use any breech-loading rifle or pistol of any caliber, a shotgun firing a single projectile or a muzzleloader of .54-caliber or less. 

Hunting for coyote and other furbearers is prohibited on Cedar Creek Lake and Miller-Welch Central Kentucky WMAs. 

Night hunting shall not be allowed in a county or area where a deer or elk firearm or muzzleloader season is open. 

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 Reelfoot 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.​

Coyotes can only be trapped during furbearer trapping seasons. 

A person allowed by state and federal law to own a firearm noise suppressor can use it to hunt coyotes.​ 

Dogs may be used to aid in the hunt. 


  • 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 as well as the 1-800-25-ALERT phone number.
  • 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.


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

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

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 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
  • Snare. A snare means 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.

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.


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.

Sample Trap Tags

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 request form online, access the “My Profile”. Those without internet access may call the department at 1-800-858-1549 on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (Eastern time) and provide the animal’s telecheck confirmation number.

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.



Image credit: Courtney Celley, USFWS (Top image: Jessica Bolser, USFWS)​​

Do you trap muskrats? The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources is collecting muskrat carcasses to examine pathogens and toxicants that may affect muskrat health and population abundance. If you are interested in participating in this study, please see details below for collecting carcasses.

  • Muskrat carcasses may be skinned or unskinned but must be frozen within 24 hours of harvest and include the entire body and head.
  • Trappers will need to keep carcasses frozen until KDFWR staff can coordinate pickup.
  • A carcass tag enclosed in a Ziplock bag must be attached to each muskrat carcass.
  • Trappers can print carcass tags, write the information on a piece of paper, or request carcass tags to be mailed by emailing
  • Email to coordinate carcass pickup.​

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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. ​Under KRS 150. 415, licensed fur buyers are required to issue a receipt to a trapper or hunter from whom they purchased such furs. Buyers are also required to submit an ​Fur Buyer Report to the department detailing the total value of each type of fur purchased. Please download the ​Fur Buyer Report and submit it no later than March 15 of the present licensed year. Failure to comply shall bar a license holder from obtaining a license the following year.


Resident and nonresident youth hunters and trappers ages 15 and younger may hunt and trap applicable game and furbearers, and hunt migratory birds in season 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 and trapping week do not need a license if they are not hunting/trapping.


Hunting Raccoons with Hounds​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​