Hunting and Trapping of Certain Mammals
1. HUNTING SEASON DATES:
(a) Opossum: the season opens on October 1 and continues until the following January 31, except that the season is CLOSED during the "shotgun" deer season;
(b) Raccoon: the season opens on October 1 and continues until the following January 31, except that the season is CLOSED during the "shotgun" deer season;
(c) Chipmunk, flying squirrel, porcupine, red squirrel, skunk, weasel, and woodchuck: the season opens on January 1 and continues until the following December 31, except that the season is CLOSED during the "shotgun" deer season.
(d) NOTE: hunting of bobcat, fox, and coyote are addressed in the "Rules and Regulations for the Hunting of Bobcat, Coyote, and Fox", 321 CMR 3.02(3).
(e) there is NO open hunting (i.e., shooting) season for the taking of beaver, fisher, mink, muskrat, and river otter. These species may be taken ONLY by trapping.
2. TRAPPING SEASON DATES:
(a) Beaver: the season opens on November 1 and continues until April 15;
(b) Bobcat, Coyote, Fox, Weasel: the season opens on November 1 and continues until November 30;
(c) Fisher: the season opens on November 1 and continues until November 22;
(d) Mink, River Otter: the season opens on November 1 and continues until the following December 15;
(e) Muskrat, Opossum, Raccoon, Skunk: the season opens on November 1 and continues until the following last day of February.
(a) Beaver, Coyote, Fisher, Fox, Mink, Muskrat, Opossum, Raccoon, River Otter, Skunk, and Weasel may be taken statewide;
(b) Bobcat may be taken only in Wildlife Management Zones 01 through 08.
4. HUNTING HOURS:
(a) raccoon and opossum may be hunted 24 hours per day, except as below;
(b) on wildlife management areas stocked with pheasant or quail, from the first Friday after Columbus Day to the Saturday following Thanksgiving, the hunting hours for raccoon and opossum are from 9:00 P.M. to 3:00 A.M.
(c) hunting hours for skunk and weasel are generally from ½ hour before sunrise to ½ hour after sunset, except on stocked WMA's.
5. BAG LIMIT: There are no bag or possession limits for any furbearer except raccoon. For raccoon taken by hunting, during the period from sunset of one day to sunset the following day, the bag limit is 3 raccoons. During the same time period, the bag limit for two or more persons hunting in the same party is 6 raccoons. There is no bag or possession limit for raccoon taken by trapping.
6. PELT TAGGING AND SALE OF PELTS:
(a) all beaver, bobcat, coyote, fisher, fox (red and gray), wild mink, and river otter taken or salvaged must be brought to an official check station and tagged with a locking seal before the pelts can be sold, exchanged, retained by the trapper or hunter, or otherwise disposed of. Seals must remain attached to the pelt until the pelt is dressed or tanned or prepared for mounting by a taxidermist or otherwise disposed of. Seals are not transferable.
(b) no pelts of beaver, bobcat, coyote, fisher, fox, gray wolf, lynx, marten, wild mink, or river otter, regardless of state of origin, may be sold in Massachusetts unless tagged or sealed by the state of origin, or another state which has been authorized to do so.
(c) all beaver, coyote, fisher, fox, mink, and river otter must be presented at the check station no later than 4 working days (Monday-Friday, except legal holidays) after the close of the season for the species being checked.
7. HUNTING IMPLEMENTS: Opossum, raccoon, skunk, and weasel may be hunted with rifle, shotgun (shot not larger than #1), handgun, or archery, except:
(a) on wildlife management areas stocked with pheasant or quail, during the pheasant or quail season, only shotgun or archery may be used; and
(b) during the hours from ½ hour after sunset to ½ hour before sunrise, handguns are restricted to those chambered not larger than .38 caliber, and rifles to those chambered not larger than .22 long rifle.
8. ALLOWABLE TRAPS: the only traps allowed for the taking of fur-bearing mammals are cage or box traps. Common type rat traps may also be used for the taking of weasels. A person must take a special training course in order to use suitcase-type Bailey or Hancock beaver traps. Persons taking fur-bearing mammals in Conibear-type traps under authority of a permit issued under 321 CMR 2.08 may retain and sell the pelts, provided that the season for the animal is open, and that they have a trapping license and seal the pelts, if required.
9. OTHER HUNTING METHODS:
(a) raccoon and opossum may be taken with or by means of artificial light;
(b) raccoon, opossum, skunk, and weasel may be hunted with or by means of electronic calls. See also the regulations for "Hunting of Fox, Coyote, and Bobcat";
(c) hunters or trappers may pick up road killed furbearers, provided that they have a hunting or trapping license, as the case may be, and, the hunting or trapping season for the particular animal is open, and, they comply with tagging requirements, if any.
(a) to trap fur-bearing mammals with any trap other than a cage or box trap, or a common type rat trap;
(b) to have in possession the green pelt of any furbearer or any part of such pelt except during the open season for such mammal and for 10 days thereafter;
(c) to possess or have under control a trap on land of another, in any place where fur-bearing mammals may be found, between April 16 of any year and 6:00 A.M. on the following November 1;
(d) to possess or have under control an unregistered trap on land of another in any place where fur-bearing mammals may be found;
(e) to possess or have under control, except with written permission, the registered trap of another;
(f) to trap on posted land, without written permission of the landowner or tenant;
(g) to trap in a public way, cart road, path, or other way commonly used as a passage by humans or domestic animals;
(h) to tear open, disturb, or destroy a muskrat house, beaver house, or beaver dam, except under permit as provided in 321 CMR 2.08;
(i) to fail to visit and to remove all animals trapped in, at least once in each calendar day between the hours of 4:00 A.M. and 10:00 P.M., all traps staked out, set, or placed;
(j) to destroy, mutilate, spring, or remove the trap of another;
(k) to take any fur-bearing mammal from the trap of another, without written authorization from the owner of the trap;
(l) to use, set, tend or place on land of another a trap not bearing a metal tag with the name, town of residence, and trap registration number of the owner thereof, in a manner as to be legible at all times, and, in addition, the trap registration number shall be embedded or marked on the trap in numbers and figures at least 1/8 in. high in a manner as to be legible at all times.
11. OTHER REQUIREMENTS:
(a) After September 1, 1989, no person shall receive a trap registration number or certificate of partnership, or trap on land of another, unless that person has completed a trapper training course and been issued a certificate of completion, or has been issued a Massachusetts trapping license or trap registration number or certificate or partnership in a previous year.
(b) Registered traps set, maintained, used, or tended illegally shall be presumed to have been set by the registered owner thereof, unless the owner has, within 48 hours of loss of theft of such traps, notified the Office of Law Enforcement of the loss or theft, the number and type of traps, and the date, time, and circumstances of loss or theft.
(c) No person shall use, set, or place a suitcase-type Bailey or Hancock beaver trap unless that person has successfully completed a training course in the use of those traps.
12. LICENSES: A resident of Massachusetts needs a resident hunting or sporting license to hunt raccoon, opossum, skunk, or weasel. A non-resident hunter needs either a non-resident small game or a non-resident big game license (small game included in a big game license). A Massachusetts resident needs a resident trapping license to trap beaver, bobcat, coyote, fisher, fox, mink, muskrat, opossum, raccoon, river otter, skunk, or weasel. A non-resident requires a non-resident trapping permit to trap these same species. See "Rules and Regulations for Hunting Fox, Coyote, and Bobcat" for laws relating to these species.
13. DEFINITIONS: There are formal definitions of certain terms, including "beaver dam", "beaver lodge", "bobcat", "box or cage trap", "Conibear type trap", "fox", "fur-bearing mammals", "green pelt", "hunt", "raw pelt", "state", and "weasel". These terms are formally defined in 321 CMR 3.02(5)(a).
14. SPECIAL PERMITS TO USE CONIBEAR-TYPE TRAPS, BREACH BEAVER DAMS OR USE FLOW DEVICES: See 321 CMR 2.08.
This is not the complete law, and is subject to change. Refer to the Hunting and Trapping of Certain Mammals regulations in the Code of Massachusetts Regulations, 321 CMR 3.02(5), as well as to several provisions of the Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 131.
Last Revised: 2-19-10