Furbearer Management in Michigan

Definition and Species

  • Furbearers: These are species historically harvested for their fur. Michigan's 17 furbearing species include badger, bobcat, fisher, marten, red and gray foxes, coyote, various weasels (least, short-tailed/ermine, long-tailed), mink, raccoon, muskrat, beaver, otter, skunk, and opossum. While most are carnivores, some like the beaver and muskrat are exceptions.

Importance and Recreational Opportunities

  • Historical Significance: Fur harvesting has been a vital part of Michigan's heritage and continues to provide numerous recreational opportunities today.
  • Diverse Activities: The variety of furbearing species allows for a wide range of hunting and trapping activities across the state.

Conservation and Regulation

  • Population Monitoring: The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) continuously monitors furbearer populations to ensure sustainable management.
  • Regulation Review: Regulations are regularly reviewed and updated to sustain populations, maintain recreational opportunities, and manage nuisance issues effectively. This includes mandatory registration for certain species to collect data for informed management decisions.

More Information

  • For detailed information on furbearer species, regulations, trapping methods, and conservation efforts, visit Michigan.gov/Trapping. This resource offers comprehensive guidance on responsible and ethical furbearer management, ensuring the continued viability of these species and the activities associated with them in Michigan.

Mitigating Damage Caused by Furbearers in Michigan

Species and Damage Control

  • Species: Beaver, coyote, muskrat, opossum, raccoon, skunk, and weasel can be taken year-round on private property if they are causing or about to cause damage.
  • Definition of Damage: Damage refers to physical harm to forest products, roads, dams, buildings, orchards, apiaries, livestock, and agricultural or horticultural crops. For beaver or muskrat specifically, their activities must result in flooding or culvert blockages that cause damage to be considered harmful.

Legal Hunting and Trapping Methods

  • Methods: All legal hunting and trapping methods for these species can be used to mitigate damage as permitted by law. This includes methods that are in line with state regulations for each species, ensuring humane and effective control.
  • Location: The property where the damage mitigation occurs must be private property. It's important to note that different rules may apply on public lands.

Licensing and Permits

  • License/Permit Exemption: When taking these species for damage control on private property, neither a license nor a written permit is required. This allows for immediate action to be taken to prevent or mitigate damage.

Michigan Hunting License Requirements and Regulations

Necessary Identification for Purchasing a License

  • Forms of ID: A valid Michigan driver's license, a State of Michigan ID card, or a DNR Sportcard are required for license purchase.
  • Carrying the License: Always carry your license and present it upon demand of any conservation or law enforcement officer.

Purchasing Licenses

  • Where to Buy: Licenses can be purchased from any license agent, online at Michigan.gov/DNRLicenses, or via the Michigan DNR Hunt Fish app.

Base License and Hunter Safety

  • Base License Requirement: A base license is needed to purchase additional licenses, including a fur harvester license. It funds habitat, conservation work, and supports conservation officers.
  • Hunter Safety Certificate: Hunters born on or after Jan. 1, 1960, need a hunter safety certificate or a previous hunting license to purchase licenses. Replacement certificates can be obtained at Michigan.gov/RecreationalSafety.

Trapper Education and Resident Qualifications

  • Trapper Education: Voluntary but recommended, especially for new trappers. Visit Michigan.gov/HunterEducation for more information.
  • Resident Qualifications: Criteria include residing in Michigan, being a full-time student in a Michigan college or university, or serving full-time in the U.S. military stationed in Michigan or maintaining Michigan residency.

Lost Licenses and Military Personnel

  • Lost License: If lost, visit a license agent or log into your eLicense account for reprinting. Fees apply for certain types of license replacements.
  • U.S. Military Personnel: Active-duty military with Michigan residency are eligible for waived fees on hunting and fur harvester licenses, except for those obtained through a drawing.

Veterans with Disabilities

  • Discounts: Eligible veterans with service-connected disabilities can obtain hunting and fur harvester licenses free of charge under specific conditions. Proper documentation from the Veterans Administration is required.

Hunting with Federally Recognized Tribe Members

  • Regulations: Accompanying a treaty-authorized hunter is permissible, but you can't harvest game unless also licensed as a treaty-authorized hunter or as a state-licensed hunter for the applicable species and season.

Apprentice and Youth Hunting in Michigan

Apprentice Hunting License

  • Eligibility: Individuals 10 years old or older without a hunter safety certificate can purchase an apprentice license for two license years before completing a hunter safety course.
  • Accompaniment: Apprentice hunters must be accompanied by an adult 21 years or older with a regular, current-year hunting license for the same game. For those 10-16 years old, the accompanying adult should be a parent, guardian, or designated by them. The accompanying adult must maintain visual and verbal contact and can accompany no more than two apprentice hunters.

Mentored Youth Hunting Program

  • Eligibility and Mentor Requirements: Youth 9 years and younger can hunt with a mentor who is at least 21 years old, experienced, and has a valid Michigan license (not an apprentice license).
  • License Coverage: The mentored youth license is a package license allowing hunting of small game, waterfowl, turkey, deer, trapping furbearers, and fishing for all species. Additional licenses, including antlerless deer, bear, elk, and fall turkey, can be applied for or purchased.
  • Equipment for Mentored Youth: Youth may use appropriately sized archery, crossbow, or firearm equipment.
  • Mentor Equipment and Responsibilities: The mentor may carry up to two hunting devices and must always be within arm's length of the youth, responsible for the youth's actions.

Rules for Youth Hunters Aged 10–16

  • Hunter Safety-Certified Youth: Those who are certified must be accompanied by an adult at least 18 years old unless hunting on land where a parent or guardian regularly resides and the license is not an apprentice license.
  • Non-Certified Youth: Those not certified may hunt as apprentice hunters, accompanied as specified for apprentice hunters. Nonresident youth up to 16 years old may purchase resident and junior licenses but aren't eligible for certain kill tags.

Hunting and Trapping on Public Land in Michigan

State Land Use Rules

  • Do Not: Cut vegetation, block gates/roads/trails, or camp without a permit.
  • Camping Permits: Free for state land (post at campsite), fee for designated sites in parks and recreation areas.
  • Rules Reference: Michigan.gov/DNRLaws.

Hunting and Trapping in Parks and Recreation Areas

  • Availability: Some parks and recreation areas permit hunting and trapping; check individual locations.
  • Restrictions: No centerfire rifles or pistols at night; trapping restricted near developed areas.

Special Permits for Public-Land Trapping

  • Permit Requirement: Certain state game and wildlife areas require special permits for trapping.
  • Contact: Reach out to the respective area headquarters or the DNR for specifics.

Finding Public Hunting and Trapping Areas

  • Mi-HUNT Application: Interactive tool for planning hunting and trapping adventures at Michigan.gov/MiHunt.
  • Hunting Access Program: Public access to private lands for hunting, details at Michigan.gov/HAP.
  • Commercial Forest Program: Over 2.2 million acres accessible for hunting and trapping, contact DNR Forest Resources Division or visit Michigan.gov/Forestry.
  • National Forests: Hiawatha, Huron-Manistee, and Ottawa National Forests offer opportunities with specific regulations.

Restrictions and Guidelines

  • National Lakeshores: Trapping is unlawful within Sleeping Bear Dunes and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshores.
  • Guiding on Public Land: Requires written authorization. Visit Michigan.gov/WildlifePermits or email DNR-PermitSpecialist@Michigan.gov for details.
  • National Forest Lands: Commercial guiding requires a federal special use permit, available through national forest offices.

Understanding Safety Zones, Rights of Way, and Waterways in Michigan Hunting and Trapping

Safety Zones for Hunting with Firearms

  • Distance: Safety zones extend 150 yards (450 feet) from any occupied building, house, cabin, or any barn/building used in farm operations.
  • Restrictions: No hunting or shooting at wild animals/birds with firearms within these zones without written permission from the owner/occupant.
  • Exceptions: The safety zone regulation does not apply to shooting ranges, target shooting, law enforcement activities, or lawful discharge of firearms for nonhunting purposes.

Local Township Restrictions

  • Variability: Some townships might have specific restrictions on hunting, trapping, or discharging firearms.
  • Verification: Check with local township offices or law enforcement agencies for any local restrictions or bylaws.

Road and Railroad Right of Way

  • Road Right of Way: Hunting and trapping may occur within road rights of way if adjacent to publicly owned land or with landowner permission if adjacent to private property.
  • Railroad Right of Way: These are private properties, and trespassing is illegal without written permission from the railroad company.

Hunting and Trapping Along Waterways

  • Landowner Rights: Hunting and trapping along waterways are generally the exclusive rights of landowners and their guests. Permission is needed to float hunt or set traps along waterways protected by recreational trespass laws.
  • Public Land Adjacency: You may float hunt and trap on and along waterways surrounded by public land that is open to hunting and trapping.

Obtaining Permission to Hunt or Trap on Private Land in Michigan

Permission is Mandatory

  • Legal Requirement: It is a legal requirement to obtain permission before hunting or trapping on someone's private land in Michigan.
  • Trespassing: Trespassing on private property for hunting or trapping purposes is unlawful and discouraged as it can negatively impact the reputation of recreational hunting.

Types of Permission

  • Written or Verbal: Permission can be either written or verbal, but it must be obtained from the landowner or leaseholder.
  • Scope: Permission should cover hunting on farmlands, connected woodlots, posted private land, or any property enclosed by a fence.

License Presentation

  • License Requirement: Hunters must have their hunting license and be ready to present it to landowners upon request.

Pursuing Wounded Game

  • Private Land: If a game animal or bird you've wounded enters private property, you must not pursue it without obtaining the landowner's permission.
  • Legal Implications: Pursuing wounded game on private land without permission may result in legal consequences and prosecution.

Using Bait in Hunting and Trapping in Michigan

Using Wild Game as Bait

  • Permissible: Fur harvesters in Michigan are allowed to use parts of game animals as bait.
  • Conditions: The game used as bait must have been lawfully trapped or hunted, and it must be the open season for the specific game being used as bait.

Using Roadkill as Bait

  • Roadkill Usage: In some cases, game killed as a result of a motor vehicle collision can be used as bait.
  • Permit Information: Individuals interested in using roadkill as bait should refer to Michigan.gov/RoadKillPermit for roadkill salvage permit information.

Restrictions on Foothold Traps Near Bait

  • Proximity to Bait: Foothold traps must not be set within 20 feet of bait that is visible from more than 4 feet above the bait.
  • Definition of Bait: Bait is defined as any animal or animal parts, including dead fish, with the following exception:
    • Dried hide, fur, feathers, or bones that are less than 36 square inches in size and entirely free of meat may be used as a visual attractant.
  • Submerged Traps: Foothold traps that are completely submerged are exempt from this restriction.

Hunting with Dogs and Wolves in Michigan

Hunting with Dogs

  • Permissible Species: Bobcat, raccoon, opossum, fox, and coyote can be hunted with dogs during their respective open seasons.
  • Restrictions: Hunting with dogs is prohibited from April 16 through July 7 each year.

Training Hunting Dogs

  • Training Period: Dogs can be trained on game that may be lawfully taken with dogs from July 8 to April 15.
  • Fox Training Exception: Michigan residents may train dogs on fox on state lands in Zone 3 under special permit.

Retrieving Dogs from Private Property

  • Permission: A person without a firearm, unless previously prohibited by the landowner, may enter private property to retrieve a hunting dog.
  • Purpose: Entry should be solely for the purpose of retrieving the dog, and the person should not linger on the property beyond a reasonable time necessary for retrieval.

Wolves and Hunting Dogs

  • Concern for Wolves: In the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, hunters should be aware of wolves.
  • Territorial Defense: Wolves may defend their territories and may attack other wolves, coyotes, and domestic dogs in their territory.
  • Rare Incidents: Wolf attacks on domestic dogs are relatively rare but may occur, especially with dogs used for bear hunting.

Avoiding Wolf Conflicts

  • Avoiding Wolf Activity: To minimize conflicts between wolves and dogs, avoid areas of recent wolf activity.
  • Identifying Wolf Sites: Look for den and rendezvous sites, often in forest openings or near water, identified by wolf tracks, droppings, and matted vegetation.
  • Scouting: Scout the area for wolf sign before releasing dogs, especially when starting from a bait site.
  • Distinguishing Tracks: Learn to distinguish wolf tracks from coyote and dog tracks.
  • Collar Additions: Consider adding bells or beepers to dog collars, which may reduce wolf attacks.

Reporting Wolf-Dog Conflicts

  • Reporting: Report all suspected wolf-dog conflicts to the DNR (Department of Natural Resources) immediately.
  • Contact Information: To report a dog depredation, call the Report All Poaching hotline at 800-292-7800.

Equipment Regulations for Hunting and Trapping in Michigan

Hunter Orange Requirements

  • Wearing Hunter Orange: Hunter orange must be worn during daylight hunting hours from August 15 through April 30.
  • Garment Types: Hunter orange can be in the form of a cap, hat, vest, jacket, or rain gear.
  • Visibility: The hunter orange garment should be the outermost layer and visible from all sides.
  • Exceptions: The hunter orange requirements do not apply to stationary hunters of bobcat, coyote, or fox or during nighttime hunting.

Use of Raised Platforms or Tree Stands

  • Allowed: Bow or crossbow hunters (all species), fox, coyote, raccoon, or opossum hunters (day or night), and bobcat hunters (day only) may use raised platforms or tree stands.
  • Prohibited: All other firearm fur harvesters are prohibited from using raised platforms or tree stands.

Ground Blinds on Public Lands

  • Ground Blinds: Ground blinds can be used on public lands, but there are restrictions on movability and building materials.
  • Details: Refer to the current Michigan Hunting Regulations Summary for specific regulations regarding tree stands and ground blinds.

Use of Game Calls and Decoys

  • Permitted: Game calls, predator calls, and mechanical/electronic decoys may be used when hunting bobcat, coyote, fox, opossum, and raccoon.

Firearm Use for Furbearers

  • Centerfire Rifles: Centerfire rifles can be used to hunt furbearers during regular daytime hunting hours statewide, with exceptions during the quiet period (Nov. 10-14).
  • Caliber Restrictions: Specific caliber size restrictions apply in the limited firearm deer zone during the quiet period.

Firearm Restrictions during Quiet Period (Nov. 10-14)

  • Firearms: Fur harvesters may carry a shotgun with shotshells for small game hunting during this period but cannot possess buckshot, slugs, ball loads, or cut shells.
  • Rimfire Firearms: A .22-caliber or smaller rimfire firearm may be used for specific purposes during this time.

Firearm Regulations during Firearm Deer Season (Nov. 15-30)

  • Firearms Use: Hunters and trappers of furbearers north of the limited firearm deer zone can use any caliber or gauge of firearm during this period, with nighttime furbearer regulation restrictions.

Shell Capacity for Shotguns and Rifles

  • Limit: Semi-automatic shotguns or rifles that can hold more than six shells in the barrel and magazine combined are not allowed, except for .22-caliber or smaller rimfire.

Fully Automatic Firearms

  • Prohibited: Fully automatic firearms are not permitted for hunting furbearers.

Crossbow Use

  • Crossbows: Crossbows can be used during any season in which a firearm is allowed for both big and small game, with exceptions during deer hunting.

Firearm and Bow Transport Regulations

  • Unloaded Firearms: Firearms must be unloaded in the barrel, and arrows must be in a quiver when outside legal hunting hours.
  • Transport in Vehicles: Specific rules apply for transporting firearms, crossbows, and bows in vehicles, including ORVs, snowmobiles, and boats.

Handgun Use

  • Permitted: Handguns can be used for hunting if following specific rules, including age restrictions and open carry.
  • Transport: Handguns must be transported according to specific guidelines, except for those with a concealed pistol license.

Ammunition Recommendation

  • Nontoxic Ammunition: While not required, using nontoxic ammunition is recommended when shooting furbearing species to prevent lead poisoning.

Hunting from Vehicles

  • Prohibited: Hunting or pursuing wild animals from vehicles, including cars, snowmobiles, aircraft, drones, motorboats, personal watercraft, ORVs, and sailboats, is not allowed.
  • Exceptions: Special permits may apply for hunters with disabilities. Refer to the Michigan Hunting Regulations Summary for more information.

Prohibited Methods

  • Not Allowed: Various methods, including snares, traps, cages, nets, pitfalls, deadfalls, spears, drugs, poisons, chemicals, fires, and mechanical devices other than firearms, crossbows, bows and arrows, or slingshots, are not allowed for taking wild animals.
  • Intoxication: Hunting while under the influence of intoxicating alcohol or controlled substances is prohibited.

Transporting, Buying, and Selling Game in Michigan

Shipping Hides and Furs Out of State

  • Marking Shipments: All out-of-state shipments of raw hides or furs must be clearly marked on the outside of the package to indicate their contents.
  • Export Approval: To export bobcat, otter, or wolf hides from the U.S., federal approval is required. Contact the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for details at 800-358-2104 or ManagementAuthority@FWS.gov.

Transporting Game

  • Transporting Game: You are allowed to transport your own lawfully taken game as well as game taken by another person.
  • Preservation of Identity: It is prohibited to destroy the identity or evidence of the sex of any furbearer while in the field or during transportation in a motor vehicle.

Buying or Selling Furbearers

  • Permitted Transactions: The carcasses and parts of furbearing animals that have been lawfully taken during their open season or lawfully imported from another state, territory, or country can be bought or sold.
  • Fur Dealer’s License: For additional information on fur dealer’s license requirements, refer to Wildlife Conservation Order 4.3.

Protected Wildlife Species and Live Animal Restrictions

Protected Wildlife Species

The following wildlife species are protected and may not be taken at any time:

  • Eagles
  • Hawks
  • Owls
  • Spotted fawns
  • Spruce grouse
  • Flying squirrels
  • Wolverines
  • Lynx
  • Moose
  • Cougars
  • Cub bears
  • Sow bears accompanied by cubs

Additionally, all nongame birds are protected, with the exception of starlings, house sparrows, and feral pigeons.

Possession of Live Wild Animals

  • Possession Prohibited: It is not allowed to possess live game or protected animals taken from the wild unless you have obtained a permit issued by the DNR. Visit Michigan.gov/WildlifePermits for more information on permits.
  • Import Restrictions: Importing or possessing a live raccoon, skunk, wild rabbit or hare, Russian boar, wild turkey, wild turkey hybrid, or their eggs, as well as mute swan or their eggs into Michigan, is unlawful. Permits from the DNR permit specialist are required for the import or possession of threatened or endangered species.

Trapping Equipment Regulations

Checking Traps

  • Daily Checking: Traps set to hold animals alive must be checked at least once daily in Zones 2 and 3 and at least once within each 48-hour period in Zone 1. Live-restraining cage traps must be checked daily in all zones.

Types of Traps Allowed

  • Permitted Traps: The following types of traps are permitted:

    • Foothold traps
    • Body-gripping or conibear traps
    • Live-restraining cage traps
    • Snares/cable restraints (with exceptions)
  • Illegal Traps: Traps with teeth or serrations are illegal.

  • Size Limitations: Foothold traps used for mink or muskrat must not exceed the jaw spread of a number 2 foothold trap.

Trapper Identification

  • Identification Required: All catching devices must bear the user’s name and address or Michigan driver’s license number or DNR Sportcard number while using, possessing, or transporting the device in areas frequented by wild animals.

Setting Traps Near Water

  • Water Trapping Restrictions: Prior to specific dates, traps may only be set within 50 feet of water if the trap meets certain requirements:
    • The trap is a duffer-type, egg-type, or similarly designed foothold trap set for raccoons.
    • The trap is a body-gripping or conibear trap set 4 feet or more above the ground.

Setting Traps in Burrows or on Beaver Dams

  • Restrictions on Burrows and Beaver Dams: You may not set traps in the internal compartment of any structure, burrow, den, or beaver dam of certain animals. Traps on beaver dams or lodges are allowed under specific conditions.

Season Opening for Setting Traps

  • Setting Traps Before the Season Opens: Trappers may only stake, put out, or set a catching device when the open season for the targeted species begins.

Use of Colony Traps

  • Colony Traps: Multiple-catch or colony traps may only be used for taking muskrats, provided they are completely submerged and meet specific size criteria.

Dispatching Animals in Traps

  • Firearm Use: Only coyote, fox, raccoon, bobcat, and badger may be killed in traps by fur harvesters using .22-caliber or smaller rimfire firearms. During specific dates, these firearms must be loaded at the point of kill.

Use of Live Traps

  • Live Traps: Trappers may use live-restraining cage traps capable of taking one animal at a time. These traps must be checked daily, and any captured animal must be immediately killed or released.

Body-Gripping Traps on Land and Water

  • Use of Body-Gripping Traps: Body-gripping traps may be used on dry land or in water. Specific requirements apply for traps of different sizes and their placement.

Winter Fox and Coyote Nonlethal Cable Restraints

Use of Cable Restraints for Fox and Coyote

  • Restrictions:

    • Cable restraints should not be placed on publicly owned land or Commercial Forest lands.
    • Each cable restraint must have a metallic identification tag with the owner or user’s name and address or Michigan driver’s license number or DNR sportcard number.
    • Cable restraints must be made of steel cable with a diameter of 1/16 inch or larger.
    • The loop of the cable restraint must not exceed 15 inches in diameter.
    • The top of the loop should not be placed more than 24 inches above the ground. In snowy conditions, 24 inches are measured from the compacted snow in a trapper’s footprint.
    • Cable restraints must be equipped with a relaxing lock to prevent strangulation and a stop to maintain a minimum loop diameter.
    • A breakaway locking system with a breaking point not greater than 285 pounds must be attached to the relaxing lock.
    • Cable restraints should be affixed to a stake or object sufficient to hold a fox or coyote, and no type of drag is allowed.
    • Two swivels, including one at the anchor point, must be attached to the cable restraint.
    • Spring poles, counterbalanced weights, springs, or similar devices are prohibited.
    • Cable restraints can have a maximum length of 60 inches (excluding a cable anchor extension), with the extension being up to 36 inches.
    • They should not be attached to a fence or set in a manner that could entangle an animal in the fence.
    • Woody vegetation can be used as an anchor, provided it meets specific criteria.
    • Cable restraints should not suspend a restrained animal with two or more feet off the ground.

Reporting Dogs Caught in Traps

  • Reporting: Dogs and other domestic animals caught in cable restraints, body-gripping, or conibear-type traps should be reported to the DNR Report All Poaching hotline at 800-292-7800.

  • Safety Information: Additional information on safely removing dogs from traps can be found at Michigan.gov/Trapping under Additional resources.

Bobcat Hunting and Trapping Regulations

Harvest Limits

  • Harvest Limit: Residents are allowed to harvest up to two bobcats.
  • Kill Tags: One kill tag is valid for all lands and units combined. A second kill tag is valid for Unit A ONLY, on private lands (excluding Commercial Forest lands).

Trapping Equipment Restrictions

  • In units C, D, G, and H, only foothold traps or live-restraining cage traps are allowed for bobcat trapping.

Licensing Requirements

  • A fur harvester license is required if you accompany a licensed bobcat hunter during the hunt or if you possess a firearm, crossbow, or bow and arrow during the hunt.
  • The license is also required for the owner of any dog that participates in chasing or locating bobcats during a hunt.

Unit Locations

  • Unit A: All of the Upper Peninsula, except Drummond Island.
  • Unit B: Drummond Island.
  • Unit C: Alcona, Alpena, Antrim, Charlevoix, Cheboygan, Emmet, Montmorency, Oscoda, Otsego, and Presque Isle counties.
  • Unit D: All of Arenac, Clare, Crawford, Gladwin, Iosco, Kalkaska, Missaukee, Ogemaw, Osceola, Roscommon, and Wexford counties.
  • Unit G: All of Bay, Benzie, Grand Traverse, Isabella, Lake, Leelanau, Manistee, Mason, Mecosta, Midland, Newaygo, and Oceana counties.
  • Unit H: All of Clinton, Gratiot, Ionia, Kent, Montcalm, Muskegon, Ottawa, Saginaw, and Shiawassee counties.

Beaver and Otter Trapping Regulations

Beaver Trapping

  • Bag Limits: There are no bag limits for beaver trapping.

Otter Trapping

  • Bag Limit (Resident Fur Harvester): Four otters per resident fur harvester; only three may be taken from Unit B, and only two from Unit C.

Trapping Units and Boundaries

  • Beaver and otter trapping units correspond with the three Michigan hunting zones: Unit A (Zone 1), Unit B (Zone 2), and Unit C (Zone 3).

Trapping Equipment

  • Traps allowed: Foothold, body-gripping or conibear-type, live-restraining cage traps.
  • Traps with teeth are unlawful.
  • Snares may be used for taking beaver in water or under ice, statewide, made of 1/16-inch or larger cable.
  • Snares not under ice must have a loop that is at least half submerged.
  • All traps must have a permanent etching or metal tag bearing the user’s name and address or Michigan driver’s license number or DNR Sportcard number.
  • If snares are attached to a pole, both the snare(s) and the uppermost end of the pole need a metal tag with the user’s information.

Incidental Muskrat Catch

  • You may keep up to 10 muskrats incidentally taken in beaver or otter sets.

Beaver Dam Molestation

  • You may not molest or destroy a beaver dam, except under a DNR wildlife damage and nuisance animal control permit.

Avoiding Otters While Trapping Beavers

To avoid catching otters while trapping for beavers:

  • Avoid areas with a lot of otter sign.
  • Avoid trapping streams, ditches, or narrow connecting bodies of water used by otters for travel.
  • Avoid sets near abandoned beaver lodges and bank dens.
  • Avoid setting traps on crossovers near culverts, berms, dikes, and narrow portions of streams.
  • Use body-gripping traps with moving triggers to the side of the trap.
  • Use a dive stick above the body-gripping trap.
  • Make trap sets outside of high animal movement areas in combination with castor sets or baited sets.
  • Gang-set active areas to catch beavers quickly and leave.

Wildlife Diseases and Reporting Sick Animals

Reporting Sick or Dead Wildlife

If you come across a sick or dead animal while hunting or trapping, you can report it at Michigan.gov/WildlifeDisease.

Concerns About Rabies

Rabies is a disease of the central nervous system transmitted by a virus through saliva, usually by a bite. All mammals are susceptible. There are no typical signs for this disease, and its symptoms overlap with other wildlife diseases. Watch for behaviors such as aggressive biting, paralysis, restlessness, tremors, and convulsions. Once signs appear, rabies is 100% fatal, but postexposure treatment is nearly 100% effective. Contact your local state health department for sample submissions.

Impact of Canine Distemper on Wildlife

Canine distemper is highly contagious and affects carnivores such as wolves, coyotes, foxes, domestic dogs, raccoons, mink, martens, fishers, otters, badgers, and skunks. The virus is resistant to cold, with cases observed year-round. Die-offs of raccoons due to canine distemper are common, but the impact on other wildlife populations is uncertain. Signs include lack of fear, nasal and eye discharge, disorientation, head and paw convulsions, and aimless wandering. Handle affected animals with caution and seek confirmation of the diagnosis.

Sarcoptic Mange in Foxes and Coyotes

Sarcoptic mange is common in wolves, coyotes, red foxes, and occasionally bears and raccoons. It is caused by mites that burrow into the skin layers, leading to irritation, scratching, and hair loss. In severe cases, animals can die due to exposure from losing their insulating hair layer. Mange may resolve on its own. Handle mange-infested animals with gloves, and freezing the carcass will kill the mites for safer handling. The mites can temporarily affect humans, causing irritation. Consult a physician or veterinarian if you or your pet may have been in contact with an infected animal.

Reporting Nutria Sightings

Trappers are strongly encouraged to report any sightings or trapping of nutria to the Midwest Invasive Species Information Network at MISIN.MSU.edu/Report. While nutria have not yet been found in Michigan, reporting is essential because they could potentially cause damage to wetlands if they become established. Characteristics to look for include their larger size compared to muskrats, a heavy, scaly, round, rat-like tail, long white whiskers, and large orange teeth.

Hunting Russian Boar

Hunters should report all Russian boar sightings or harvests either online at Michigan.gov/FeralSwine or by calling 517-284-9453. Russian boar can be legally hunted on public land by individuals with a valid hunting license or concealed pistol license. On private land, hunting Russian boar is allowed with the landowner's permission. For detailed regulations and information, please refer to the current-year Michigan Hunting Regulations Summary. Hunters who harvest a Russian boar are requested to submit parts of the animal to the DNR for disease testing.

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