A trapping license is required for all persons age 12 years of age and older. In addition, to trap on the land of another, a Trap Registration Certificate Number is required.
See 321 CMR 3.02(5) for complete trapping regulations.
Mandatory Trapper Education
Successful completion of a Trapper Education course is mandatory for first-time trappers and Problem Animal Control (PAC) agents in order to apply for a trap registration certificate. A Trap Registration Certificate Number is required to trap on the land of another. You may complete Trapper Education course in any U.S. state, including the class offered by Massachusetts Hunter Education Program. The Massachusetts course includes the training required to use Bailey or Hancock traps. Both a Trapper Education Certificate and a Bailey-Hancock Certificate are issued to students who successfully complete Trapper Education.
Trap Registration Certificate
All traps used on the land of another must have a valid Trap Registration Certificate Number embedded or cut into the trap. The assigned number, including letter and figures, must be at least 1⁄8 inches high and legible at all times. The trap must also have attached a metal tag bearing the owner’s name, town, and registration number. The registration number is yours for life, but must be renewed every two years. To trap on the land of another, a trapper must maintain a current certification of that registration number. The initial fee for trap registration is $8.00. Renewal fee is $8.00.
Lawful trap types
Only cage or box type traps may be used for the taking of fur-bearing mammals. Common rat traps may only be used for the taking of weasels. Bailey and Hancock traps may only be used for the taking of beaver and only by trappers who have been issued the Bailey-Hancock certificate of completion. The Bailey-Hancock certificate must be in possession when using such traps. There is a detailed procedure for obtaining a special permit to use bodygrip traps (e.g., Conibear™ traps) to address certain types of wildlife damage. Contact your local MassWildlife District office for details.
Steel-jaw foothold traps, padded jaw traps, body-gripping (Conibear) traps, snares, deadfalls, colony traps (traps designed to take more than one mammal at a time), and any traps other than those specified above are prohibited. Such traps may not be set, tended, used, or possessed in the field.
The use of body gripping or “Conibear” traps are permitted for the trapping of beaver and muskrat to resolve immediate threats to human health and safety, under a valid emergency permit. Emergency permits are issued by municipal Boards of Health in accordance with MGL Ch 131 Section 80A.
A trapper must report the loss or theft of a trap in writing to the Office of Law Enforcement within 48 hours of the loss or theft, or remain responsible for its use. The report should include the number and type of traps, the date, time, place and circumstances of the loss or theft. Such reports must be signed under the pains and penalties of perjury. Stolen traps should be reported to:
Coastal Law Enforcement:
Mass. Environmental Police
Office of Law Enforcement
Attn: Trap Loss
Bldg. #45, 349 Lincoln St.
Hingham, MA 02043
Inland Law Enforcement:
Mass. Environmental Police
Office of Law Enforcement
Attn: Trap Loss
183 Milk Street
Westborough, MA 01581
It is illegal to:
- Possess the green pelt of any fur-bearing mammal or any part of such pelt except during the open season for such mammal and for ten days thereafter.
- Possess or have under control a trap on land of another in any place where fur-bearing mammals might be found between April 16 of any year and 6:00 on the following November 1.
- Possess or have under his control an unregistered trap on land of another.
- Possess or have under control the registered trap of another, unless he has entered into a trapping partnership through the Boston Office as provided in M.G.L. c131 § 80 and 321 CMR 3.02(5)(e)14.
- Trap on posted land of another without the written permission of the owner or tenant of such land.
- Trap in a public way, cart road, path or other way commonly used as a passageway for human beings or domestic animals.
- Tear open, disturb, or destroy a muskrat lodge, beaver lodge or beaver dam, except as provided in 321 CMR 2.08.
- Trap with a trap designed to take more than one mammal at a time.
- Trap on land with a Bailey or Hancock beaver trap or other suitcase type cage trap of similar design, except when set upon a beaver dam or beaver lodge, snag, stump, rock, or other above-water protrusion entirely or substantially surrounded by water, or, when the pan of such trap is not completely submerged.
- Trap with a Bailey or Hancock beaver trap or other suitcase type cage trap of similar design without having completed a training session and having been issued a certificate of completion as provided for in 321 CMR 3.02(5)(c)2., or to fail to carry such certificate on one’s person when using such traps.
- Fail to visit all traps staked out, set, used, tended, placed, or maintained, and remove all animals trapped at least once in each calendar day between the hours of 4:00am and 10:00pm.
- Destroy, mutilate, spring, or remove the trap of another.
- Take any fur-bearing mammal from the trap of another unless he has on his person a specific written authorization to do so, signed by the owner of such trap. The owner of traps may give such authorization to any person licensed to trap under M.G.L. c. 131 for a period not to exceed one week from the day the traps were last tended, provided that notice of the giving of such authorization including the name and trapping license number of the person so authorized shall be given to the regional Environmental Police Officer and to the Director within 24 hours of the giving of such authorization.
- Set, use, place, locate, tend, or maintain a trap not bearing on a metal tag the name, town of residence, and trap registration number of the person or persons using the same in a manner as to be legible at all times. Said registration number shall be permanently embedded in or marked on the traps with letters and figures not less than 1⁄8 inches high in such a manner as to be legible at all times.
- Trap fur-bearing mammals with any trap other than a cage or box type trap, or a common rat trap for weasels.
- Possess any road-killed furbearers during the closed season, or possess road-killed furbearers during the open season without a valid hunting or trapping license as appropriate to that species and season.
- Alter, tamper with, or reapply a furbearer tag or seal, or possess any altered or resealed tag, or possess any pelt bearing an altered or resealed tag or seal.
- Trap before 6:00am on opening day of any trapping season.
Incidental catch — emergency permit
Catch of any species other than beaver or muskrat while trapping with a 10 day emergency permit must be turned over to the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife.
Harvest reporting (pelt checking)
Harvest reporting rules for bobcat and otter
Bobcat and otter must be checked within 4 working days of the end of the season at a physical check station. Bobcats and otters cannot be reported online. The seal you receive from the check station must remain attached to the pelt until the pelt/carcass is prepared for mounting or the pelt is sold or tanned. Click here to find a bobcat/otter check station.
Harvest reporting rules for beaver, fisher, mink, fox, and coyote.
You must report coyote and fox within 48 hours of harvest. You must report harvested beaver, fisher, or mink within 4 working days of the end of their respective seasons.
2 ways to report:
- Use MassFishHunt to report a harvest online
You will get a confirmation number after completion. You must write this number on a harvest tag of your own making, which should still be attached to your game. Confirmation numbers must remain attached until the pelt/carcass is prepared for mounting or the pelt is sold or tanned.
- Take your harvested game to an official check station. Click here to find a bobcat/otter check station.
The seal you receive from the check station must remain attached to the pelt until the pelt/carcass is prepared for mounting or the pelt is sold or tanned.
Sale of pelts
Exporting raw furs: When shipping raw fur pelts by any carrier, the contents of the package and the shipper’s hunting or trapping license number must be listed on the outside of the package.
The destruction or removal of any identifying tag or label that is attached to a container in which skins are shipped is unlawful.
All river otter and bobcat require CITES tags to be lawfully exported for sale. Go to a furbearer check station for these tags.
Raw Pelts of coyote, wild fox, wild mink, gray wolf, bobcat, lynx, fisher, marten, river otter, or beaver may not be sold in Massachusetts unless tagged by the state or province of origin.
If you are aware of illegal trapping activities, or suspect a violation of any wildlife law, Environmental Police Officers can be reached at (800) 632-8075.
Violations and penalties
Trapping licenses can be revoked for one year in addition to other penalties and fines as well as restitutions of up to $1000 and/or six months in jail. Traps and other equipment can be seized and forfeited to the Commonwealth. In addition, Problem Animal Control Licenses and/or Furbuyer licenses can be revoked, plus fines and penalties assessed, and additionally, fur products can be seized and forfeited to the Commonwealth.