rabbit running

Small Game Hunting and Trapping

Attention, Small Game Hunters

Rabbit hemorrhagic disease (RHDV2) is a fatal disease in rabbits. It is classified as a foreign animal disease in the United States and is reportable to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. For the first time in the U.S., this disease has been detected in wild rabbits. It has been detected in several states (Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, and Utah) across the Southwest.

At this time, it has not been detected in Kentucky.

To prevent the introduction of this foreign animal disease into Kentucky, Kentucky Fish and Wildlife is pursuing emergency regulations to ban the importation of any wild rabbits alive or dead (i.e. carcasses) into Kentucky.

Guidance for Rabbit Hunters:

  • Do not transport live or dead (i.e. carcasses) native or exotic rabbit species into Kentucky.
  • For those traveling out of state to hunt rabbit, please do not bring the whole carcass back.
    • The animal should be cleaned, removing all fur and entrails.
    • When finished handling game, wash hands thoroughly with soap and water or use a disinfectant; disinfect knives, equipment, and surfaces that were in contact with game.
    • Do not harvest rabbits that appear sick.
    • Wear rubber or disposable latex gloves while handling and cleaning game.
    • When cleaning game, bag any remains and place in trash. Check local ordinances concerning disposal of game carcasses.
    • Do not dispose of remains where other rabbits or scavengers may have access to them.
    • If contact with live rabbits is possible, hunters should shower and change clothing as soon as possible after cleaning game.
    • Do not eat, drink, or smoke while handling animals.
    • All game should be thoroughly cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
  • Currently Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico Texas and Utah are the only states with confirmed cases of RHDV2.
  • However, this disease is highly contagious and easily moved around.


  1. USGS National Wildlife Health Center, Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus 2 Confirmed in Wild Rabbits in the US: https://www.usgs.gov/media/files/rabbit-hemorrhagic-disease-virus-2-confirmed-wild-rabbits-us
  2. USGS National Wildlife Health Center, Continued Expansion of Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus 2 in NA: https://www.usgs.gov/media/files/continued-expansion-rabbit-hemorrhagic-disease-virus-2-na
  3. USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Fact Sheet: Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease: https://www.aphis.usda.gov/publications/animal_health/fs-rhdv2.pdf
  4. USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, General Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfection of Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus (RHDV) Contaminated Premises: https://www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_health/downloads/rhdv-cleaning-guidance.pdf
  5. USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Affected Counties Map 5/13/20: https://www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_health/downloads/rhdv-map.pdf
  6. Center for Food Security and Public Health – Iowa State University: Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease: http://www.cfsph.iastate.edu/Factsheets/pdfs/rabbit_hemorrhagic_disease.pdf
  7. Washington State Department of Agriculture Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Fact Sheet: https://s3.wp.wsu.edu/uploads/sites/2082/2019/11/11.08.19USDARabbitHemorrhagicDiseaseFactSheet.pdf



The following animals are considered small game: squirrels, rabbits, northern bobwhite ​(quail) and grouse.

Only rabbits and squirrels may be trapped. Quail and grouse may not be trapped. Hunting bag limits apply. Trapping equipment and restrictions are the same as those listed in the furbearer section.

A trapping license is required for anyone 12 years of age and older.

Trappers must harvest squirrels and rabbits upon capture, unless they possess a captive wildlife permit from Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. Seasons on WMAs and other public hunting lands not managed by Kentucky Fish and Wildlife may be different from statewide seasons. Individual area listings are available online here.

Rabbit and Quail Zones Map 
Grouse Zones Map 


  • Squirrel: Daily limit is 6; possession limit is 12.
  • Rabbit: Daily limit is 4; possession limit is 8.
  • Quail: Daily limit is 8; possession limit is 16.
  • Grouse: Daily limit is 4; possession limit is 8.

Q: Do I have to telecheck my small game?

A: No. However, you can help Kentucky Fish and Wildlife by filling out the hunter cooperator surveys for small game.



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.

Hunter orange clothing must be worn by all hunters during the first weekend after Christmas, as youth hunters are also permitted to hunt deer with firearms at that time.

Youth hunters must comply with all equipment regulations and bag limits for small game 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.


The limit for this hunting method is two (2) of any small game or furbearer species per falconer per day, except during the fall and winter hunting season when the limits are the same as for other methods. Falconers must possess a falconry permit, which costs $75 and is valid for three years, as well as a valid Kentucky hunting license, unless license exempt, and obey all applicable state and federal laws.


Hunters may only use the following to take small game during the fall and winter seasons:

  • A rimfire gun or rimfire handgun
  • .410 gauge handgun
  • Muzzle-loading or breechloading 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)
  • Lead or non-toxic shot no larger than No. 2
  • Muzzle-loading rifles
  • Archery or crossbow equipment
  • Pellets fired from .177, .20, .22 or .25 caliber air guns
  • Falconry
  • Slingshots with manufactured hunting ammunition
  • Dogs may be used to aid in the hunt
​​​​​ ​