North Dakota Banner

ND.gov Banner - visit nd.gov
North Dakota Legendary - visit ndtourism.gov

Furbearer Hunting and Trapping Guide

Furbearer Header Photo

This guide is provided for informational purposes and is not intended as a complete listing of regulations. For other specific information on regulations and laws visit the Game and Fish Department website, or for North Dakota state laws go to
www.legis.nd.gov/cencode/T20-1.html.

2013-14 Furbearer Hunting and Trapping Guide (printable version)

Table of Contents
Season Information Eligibility
Licenses Definitions
General Guidelines Closed or Restricted Areas
Cable Device Restrictions Trap Set Restrictions
Badger, Coyote, Fox (Red and Gray) Beaver and Raccoon
Bobcat Fisher
Mink and Muskrat Mountain Lion
Weasel R.A.P (Report All Poachers) Program

2013-2014 Season Information

Species Harvest Method Season Opens Season Closes
Badger, Coyote, Fox Firearms, traps, archery equipment, pursue with dogs Year-round
  Cable devices November 25, 2013 March 15, 2014
Beaver, Raccoon Firearms, traps, archery equipment, underwater cable
devices, pursue with dogs (raccoon only)
Year-round
  Cable devices on land November 25, 2013 March 15, 2014
  Cable devices on land within 50 ft. of water March 16, 2014 April 30, 2014
Bobcat Firearms, traps, archery equipment November 9, 2013 March 15, 2014
  Cable devices, pursue with dogs November 25, 2013 March 15, 2014
Fisher Traps, cable devices November 25, 2013 December 1, 2013
Mink, Muskrat (see back page for time restrictions) Traps October 26, 2013 April 30, 2014
  Cable devices, firearms, archery equipment November 25, 2013 April 30, 2014
Mountain lion Firearms, archery equipment August 30, 2013 March 31, 2014
  Pursue with dogs November 25, 2013 March 31, 2014
Weasel Traps October 26, 2013 March 15, 2014
  Firearms, cable devices, archery equipment November 25, 2013 March 15, 2014

Top

Eligibility

Hunter education requirement – Hunters born after December 31, 1961 must complete a certified state or provincial hunter education course to purchase a North Dakota hunting license. Exceptions: Persons who hunt only on land they own or operate, youth under age 12 if they have appropriate licenses and are accompanied by a parent or guardian, and persons with an apprentice license.

Minimum age – There is no minimum age for hunting furbearers, but anyone under age 15 afield with firearms must be under direct supervision of a parent, guardian, or adult authorized by their parent or guardian.


Top

Licenses

Hunting licenses in the form of stamps must be affixed to the back of a fishing, hunting and furbearer certificate. Stamps and licenses must be signed in ink.

Except for residents under 16 years of age, a furbearer license is required to hunt or trap furbearers. Nonresidents may not take furbearers, except they may hunt fox and coyote if they possess a furbearer and nongame license. Exceptions: Residents of a state that allows North Dakota residents to trap within that state, may purchase a nonresident reciprocal trapping license to trap in this state. Nonresidents having this license may not take bobcats, mountain lions or fishers. Hunters and trappers are required to purchase licenses, except any resident, or member of his or her family permanently residing with him or her, may hunt small game, trap or use cable devices during the open season without a license upon land owned or leased by him or her, but otherwise is governed by seasons, limits and all other regulations.

Residents do not need a license to take unprotected species of wildlife (prairie dogs, rabbits, skunks, ground squirrels). Nonresidents hunting only unprotected species of wildlife need only a nongame license.

A combination license, which consists of fishing, small game, general game and habitat, and furbearer license, is available for residents.

A resident who is on leave and on active duty with the United States military may hunt small game or trap furbearers during the season without a license. Contact the Department for details.


Top

Definitions

Body gripping trap – trap designed to allow the animal's head, neck or torso to enter the trap opening and be held by compression of the jaws when sprung (example, Conibear). See TRAP SET RESTRICTIONS section.

Cable device – noose used for restraining furbearers by the neck or body (example, snare). See CABLE DEVICES RESTRICTIONS section.

Colony trap – enclosure device designed to allow the capture of one or more furbearers in a single setting with one or more one-way entrances; cannot exceed 12 inches high, wide or in diameter by 36 inches long.

Foothold trap – steel-jawed trap used for restraining furbearers by the foot (examples, long-spring or coil-spring foothold trap).

Protective covering – trap set covering of structural material (wire mesh, wood, plastic, metal) limiting access to the trap through an opening not to exceed 8 inches high by 8 inches wide.

Sight exposed bait – any bait weighing in excess of 1 pound, composed of animal flesh, fur, hide, entrails or feathers placed in such a manner that it can be seen by any soaring raptor.

Water Set – trap or cable device which is set or staked in a manner to permit the trap, cable device or trapped animal to reach water. See TRAP SET RESTRICTIONS section.


Top

General Guidelines

  • Hunting hours are from 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset. See exceptions for fox (red and gray), coyote, beaver and raccoon in species sections.
  • The opening hour on the first day of all furbearer seasons is 30 minutes before sunrise. After the first day of the season, trapping or using cable devices is legal at any hour.
  • Written permission must be secured from landowners or operators before placing or setting any traps or cable devices on private land, including PLOTS lands. The owner or operator may determine the length of time permission is granted.
  • The season for Canada lynx, gray wolf, swift/kit fox, black bear, wolverine, American marten and river otter shall remain closed.
  • The gray wolf, west of U.S. Highway 83 to the south shore of Lake Sakakawea and continuing west of the Missouri River is an endangered species under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In all areas east of U.S. Highway 83 or east of the Missouri River, the gray wolf is a state furbearer under the jurisdiction of the Department.
  • Any gray wolf (under the jurisdiction of the Department) killed in defense of domestic animals, as allowed by law, must be reported to the Department within 12 hours, and the entire intact animal shall be turned over to the Department.
  • Any furbearer taken for which the season is closed or other incidentally taken animal must be reported within 24 hours and turned over to the Department.
  • Furbearers may be taken statewide, except for bobcats and fishers. See BOBCAT and FISHER sections.
  • It is illegal to drive off established roads or trails during the deer gun season while attempting to take furbearers with firearms, archery equipment and dogs.
  • It is illegal to place traps or cable devices within 25 feet of any sight exposed bait.
  • It is illegal to intentionally destroy, molest, disturb or tamper with any trap or cable device, the set, or with any furbearer restrained therein.
  • No furbearer may be taken and possessed live.
  • No person, while operating a snowmobile in this state, may kill, chase, flush, or harass any wild animal or wild bird, protected or unprotected.
  • Aircraft may not be used to take coyote, fox or other furbearers without a special permit.

Top

Closed or Restricted Areas

Wildlife management areas so posted, refuges, sanctuaries, national parks and historic sites shall be closed to the hunting and trapping of all furbearers. Exceptions: Hunting and trapping furbearers may be permitted at times and on those areas of federally owned refuges designated by the refuge manager. A permit from the refuge manager is required for those wishing to trap on federal refuges. For additional regulations on federal refuges, contact refuge headquarters. A permit from the Department director is required to take furbearers on those state wildlife management areas and state easement refuges posted closed to hunting.

Trapping on school trust lands is allowed, if the current surface lessee gives written permission. By giving permission, the lessee is made aware that legal traps and snares could be in the area. The state does not guarantee that school trust lands are legally accessible; in some cases, terrain and other natural obstructions may make access difficult. Access to school trust lands is strictly nonvehicular. Trails are used only for management purposes and may not be used by the public for vehicular travel. Contact the ND Department of Trust Lands at (701) 328-1919, or email jsaude@nd.gov, for the name and address of the current surface lessee.


Top

Cable Device Restrictions

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department, along with the North Dakota Fur Takers Association, recommends that all traps be visually inspected and all captured animals be removed at no greater than 48-hour intervals, and that rubber gloves be worn for skinning and handling of all furbearers.

  • Cable devices are permitted on state wildlife management areas and federal waterfowl production areas after the close of small game seasons, from January 6, 2014 through March 15, 2014.
  • A metal or plastic tag must be attached to each cable device. This tag must display the trapper’s name, address and telephone number.
  • Relaxing cable devices are permitted. One stop must be affixed to each cable device on land to prevent the loop from opening to a diameter greater than 12 inches.
  • Cable devices cannot be placed or set in the field prior to the opening date or remain set or placed in the field after the closing date of the cable device season for respective species.
  • All cable devices must be affixed to an immovable object solidly attached to the ground. The use of drags is prohibited.
  • Cable devices must be set so the bottom of the loop is no greater than 12 inches from the ground; or when the ground is snow covered, no greater than 12 inches above the bottom of an adult’s footprint in the snow beneath the cable device with the full body weight on the foot.
  • Cable devices must be constructed of single-strand (1x19) or multi-strand (7x7) or (7x19) carbon or stainless steel cable of 1/16-inch diameter or larger.
  • Cable devices must possess a lock or breakaway device that has been tested to break or disassemble at no more than 350 pounds pull.
  • Individuals who self-assemble cable devices from components must assume liability and responsibility for ensuring that devices, locks or parts break or disassemble at 350 pounds pull, or less.

Top

Trap Set Restrictions

Jaw Spread Sizes

State wildlife management areas

  • Year-round: Body gripping traps with greater than 6-inch inside jaw spread must –
    • Be in 4 inches or more of water; or
    • Be recessed at least 7 inches in a plastic, wood or metal cubby with a maximum 50 square inch opening; or
    • Be recessed at least 10 inches in a plastic, wood or metal cubby with a maximum 80 square inch opening.

All other lands

  • September 1 – October 25: Body gripping traps with greater than 8 inches inside jaw spread and all water sets must –
    • Be in 4 inches or more of water; or
    • Be used in an upland set and recessed at least 10 inches in a plastic, wood or metal cubby with a maximum 80 square inch opening.
  • October 26 – January 5: Body gripping traps greater than 8 inches inside jaw spread must –
    • Be in 4 inches or more of water; or
    • Be used in an upland set and recessed at least 10 inches in a plastic, wood or metal cubby with a maximum 80 square inch opening.
  • January 6 – March 15: No restrictions on placement.
  • March 16 – April 30: Traps placed in or on water must –
    • Have a protective covering, including float sets; or
    • Foothold traps must have a minimum of 2 inches of water covering the entire trap pan; or
    • Body gripping traps less than 8 inches inside jaw spread must have no more than 2 inches of the trap above the water surface.
  • May 1 – August 31: No restrictions on placement.

Top

Badger, Coyote, Fox (Red and Gray)

Firearms, traps, archery equipment, pursue with dogs – Open year-round (officially from April 1 – March 31)

Badger, coyote, and fox (red and gray) may be hunted statewide using legal firearms, archery equipment or pursued with dogs during regular hunting hours. Badger, coyote and fox (red and gray) may be trapped statewide using legal traps (including footholds and body-gripping traps).

Cable devices – Opens: November 25 – Closes: March 15

Badger, coyote, and fox (red and gray) may be captured statewide using legal cable devices.

Firearms at night – Opens: November 25 – Closes: March 15

Coyote and fox (red and gray) may be hunted at any hour. Any person who engages in fox or coyote hunting from 30 minutes after sunset to 30 minutes before sunrise must hunt exclusively on foot and use a predator call. Use of spotlight or any other artificial light, night vision equipment, electronically enhanced light gathering optics or thermal imaging equipment for hunting or locating game is prohibited.


Top

Beaver and Raccoon

Beaver dams may be dismantled when their presence causes property damage.

Firearms, traps, underwater cable devices, archery equipment, pursue with dogs (raccoon only) – Open year-round (officially from April 1 - March 31)

Beaver and raccoon may be hunted statewide using legal firearms and archery equipment during regular hunting hours. Beaver and raccoon may be trapped statewide using legal traps (including footholds and body-gripping traps) and underwater cable devices. Raccoon may be pursued statewide with dogs. Beaver and raccoon may also be taken at any hour of the day, while hunting on foot, with the aid of a flashlight with a power source of not more than 6 volts. A red or amber filter must be placed over the light except when taking a raccoon treed or at bay. The use of auto headlights, spotlights and lights other than a flashlight with a power source of over 6 volts as an aid in taking beavers and raccoons is prohibited. Legal firearms for flashlight hunting of beaver and raccoon are rifles or handguns fi ring a rimfire cartridge no larger than .22 caliber, or shotguns no larger than .410 gauge. Rifled slugs are not legal.

Cable devices on land – Opens: November 25 – Closes: March 15

Beaver and raccoon may be captured statewide using legal cable devices. There are no placement restrictions for cable devices during this time.

Cable devices on land within 50 feet of water – Opens: March 16 – Closes: April 30

Beaver and raccoon may be captured statewide using legal cable devices. Cable devices must be placed within 50 feet of water and be no greater than 4 inches off the ground and have a stop restricting loop size to 12 inches or less in diameter.


Top

Bobcat

Bobcat may only be harvested by North Dakota residents. Bobcat may only be harvested south and west of the Missouri River. The pelt and carcass of each bobcat must be presented to Department personnel for inspection and tagging no later than 14 days after the close of season, or prior to sale or transfer of possession, whichever comes first. No bobcat pelt will be tagged until the animal is skinned and presented with the intact carcass. The carcass shall remain the property of the Department. No person, taxidermist or fur dealer shall possess or purchase an untagged bobcat. When any part of the animal is mounted, if the tag is removed from the pelt, the tag must be securely fastened to the back or bottom of mount.

 

Firearms, traps, archery equipment – Opens: November 9 – Closes: March 15

Bobcat may be hunted with legal firearms and archery equipment or trapped using legal traps (including footholds and body-gripping traps) south and west of the Missouri River.

Cable devices, pursue with dogs – Opens: November 25 – Closes: March 15

Bobcat may be captured using legal cable devices or pursued with dogs south and west of the Missouri River.


Top

Fisher

Traps, cable devices – Opens: November 25 – Closes: December 1

Fisher may only be harvested by North Dakota residents. Fisher may only be harvested east of U.S. Highway 281 and ND Highway 4. The limit for fishers is one animal per trapper per season. Any fisher that is harvested must be reported to the Department within 12 hours to make arrangements to have the fisher tagged. The pelt must be removed from the carcass prior to presenting the fisher to Department personnel for tagging. No fisher pelt will be tagged until the animal is skinned and presented with the intact carcass.

 

The carcass shall remain the property of the Department. No person, taxidermist or fur dealer shall possess or purchase an untagged fisher. When any part of the animal is mounted, if the tag is removed from the pelt, the tag must be securely fastened to the back or bottom of mount. Fishers incidentally trapped after the close of the season must be reported to the Department within 12 hours and turned over to the Department.


Top

Mink and Muskrat

Muskrat huts may be opened to insert traps or cable devices. However, huts must be restored to their approximate original condition to prevent freeze-up.

Traps – Opens: October 26 – Closes: April 30 (See below for restrictions beginning March 16)

Mink and muskrat may be trapped statewide using legal traps. Beginning March 16, colony traps must be under at least 2 inches of water, and trapping on the outside of any muskrat house or structure of any size is prohibited. Traps may be placed completely inside a muskrat house or structure of any size. Foothold traps must have at least 2 inches of water over the entire trap pan or must have a protective covering. Bodygripping traps less than 8 inches inside jaw spread and used in a water set can have no more than 2 inches of the trap above water or must have a protective covering.

Cable devices – Opens: November 25 – Closes: April 30 (See below for restrictions beginning March 16)

Mink and muskrat may be captured statewide using legal cable devices. Beginning March 16, cable devices can have no more than 2 inches of the cable above the water surface and using cable devices on the outside of any muskrat house or structure of any size is prohibited.

Firearms, archery equipment – Opens: November 25 – Closes: April 30

Mink and muskrat may be hunted statewide with rimfire cartridges of .22 caliber or smaller, muzzleloaders of .45 caliber or smaller or legal archery equipment.


Top

Mountain Lion

Mountain lion may only be hunted by North Dakota residents. The limit is one mountain lion per hunter per season. Kittens (mountain lions with visible spots), or females accompanied by kittens may not be harvested. Any mountain lion harvested must be reported to the Department within 12 hours and the entire intact animal must be submitted for analysis and tagging. Legally taken mountain lions will be returned to the hunter, so that the pelt may be removed but the carcass shall remain the property of the Department. The use of traps or cable devices (snares) to take mountain lions is prohibited.

The state will be split into two management zones: Zone 1 and Zone 2. Zone 1 is bordered by Montana, South Dakota, and state and federal highways, the point where the boundary crosses Lake Sakakawea is a straight line from where ND Highway 1804 lies directly across from ND Highway 8. Zone 2 is the remainder of the state not described as Zone 1.

 

Zone 1 early-season – Opens: August 30 – Closes: November 24

Mountain lions may be harvested using firearms and archery equipment. There is a harvest quota of 14 mountain lions. Once the quota is reached, the season will close immediately. The Department will inform the public of this closure through the media. The quota will not include mountain lions taken by USDA Wildlife Services, the Department, private landowners in defense of livestock, for human safety issues, road-killed mountain lions, mountain lions incidentally killed in traps or cable devices, and those harvested on Indian lands.

Zone 1 late-season – Opens: November 25 – Closes: March 31

Mountain lions may be harvested using firearms, archery equipment, or pursued with dogs. There is a harvest quota of 7 mountain lions. Once this quota is reached, the season will close immediately. The Department will inform the public of this closure through the media. The quota will not include mountain lions taken by USDA Wildlife Services, the Department, private landowners in defense of livestock, for human safety issues, road-killed mountain lions, mountain lions incidentally killed in traps or cable devices, and those harvested on Indian lands.

Zone 2 – Opens: August 30 – Closes: March 31

Mountain lions may be harvested using firearms and archery equipment. Beginning November 25, mountain lions may also be harvested by pursuing with dogs. There is no harvest quota in Zone 2.


Top

Weasel

Traps – Opens: October 26 – Closes: March 15

Weasel may be trapped statewide using legal traps.

Firearms, cable devices, archery equipment – Opens: November 25 – Closes: March 15

Weasel may be hunted statewide with rimfire cartridges of .22 caliber or smaller, muzzleloaders of .45 caliber or smaller, or legal archery equipment. Weasel may be captured statewide using legal cable devices.


Top

R.A.P. (Report All Poachers) Program

This program encourages reporting of wildlife violations. Callers can remain anonymous if they prefer, and rewards range from $100 to $1,000 depending on the nature and seriousness of the crime. Call (800) 472-2121. Call this number only to report game and fish violations. Note: If calling from outside North Dakota, the number is (701) 328-9921.The reward fund is supported by private donations. If you wish to donate to the RAP program, tax deductible contributions can be sent to RAP, Box 188, Valley City, ND 58072-0188.


Top