Introduction to Trapping in Wisconsin

In Wisconsin, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) endorses regulated trapping as a safe and effective method for managing furbearer populations. This practice is integral for maintaining healthy, diverse wildlife, particularly furbearers. Wisconsin's approach to trapping is stringent, reflecting a commitment to animal welfare and ecological balance.

Modern trapping in the state is principally guided by Best Management Practices (BMPs). These BMPs are developed through extensive evaluations of commercially available traps and prevalent trapping methods. The criteria for these assessments include factors like animal welfare, efficiency, selectivity, practicality, and safety, ensuring that trapping methods are humane and effective.

For those interested in participating in this regulated activity, Wisconsin mandates completion of a Trapper Education Course. This requirement underscores the importance of understanding and adhering to current regulations, ethical considerations, and animal welfare. The course content includes standard trapping techniques and a comprehensive review of the state's trapping regulations. By emphasizing these areas, the program aims to prepare individuals for responsible and informed trapping, aligning with the state's conservation goals and ethical standards.

Wisconsin's regulated trapping framework, supported by educational initiatives and strict BMPs, reflects a balanced approach to wildlife management, aiming to sustain healthy furbearer populations well into the future.

Trapping Definitions

Body-Grip Trap:

  • Description: A steel trap designed to capture an animal by the head, neck, or torso through the compression of the jaws when sprung.
  • Usage: Primarily for capturing fur-bearing animals, specified by regulations for each species.

Cable Restraint:

  • Description: A cable noose used for restraining fur-bearing animals that prevents the device or trapped animal from reaching unfrozen water.
  • Usage: Allows for live capture of animals, especially in areas where traditional traps may be restricted or for species-specific trapping.

Cage or Box Trap:

  • Description: A trap designed to allow an animal to enter an enclosure, capturing and holding it alive inside until released or possessed by the operator.
  • Usage: Used in situations requiring non-lethal trapping, such as nuisance animal control or in research settings.

Capable of Submersing:

  • Description: A trap set designed to allow a trapped animal to travel to water of sufficient depth to cause irreversible, complete submersion.
  • Usage: Often used for aquatic furbearers, ensuring quick dispatch and adherence to humane trapping standards.

Colony Trap:

  • Description: An enclosure-type device allowing for the capture of one or more fur-bearing animals in a single setting, typically as a submersion set.
  • Usage: Commonly used for animals like muskrats, allowing multiple captures in a single location.

Enclosed Trigger Trap:

  • Description: A trap with a push- or pull-activated trigger located inside an enclosure, recessed from an opening no greater than 1¾ inches in diameter.
  • Usage: Designed to be selective and safe, minimizing the capture of non-target species.

Foot-Activated Cable Restraint:

  • Description: A passive or spring-activated cable noose used for restraining fur-bearing animals by the foot, not allowing the device or trapped animal to reach unfrozen water.
  • Usage: Similar to standard cable restraints but specifically targets the animal's foot, used in various trapping scenarios.

Furbearing Animal:

  • Description: Animals included under the furbearer definition for trapping purposes, such as bobcats, fishers, otters, coyotes, raccoons, and others.
  • Usage: Defines the scope of species that are legally considered under trapping regulations.

Jawed Trap:

  • Description: A trap designed to catch an animal by the foot, excluding enclosed trigger traps, cable restraints, or body-gripping traps.
  • Usage: Traditional trapping method for various fur-bearing animals, regulated for humane and selective capture.

Non-Submersion Set:

  • Description: Any trap set capable of capturing an animal but not designed to submerge the captured animal.
  • Usage: Typically used for land animals or in regions where complete submersion is not allowed or possible.

Sight Exposed Bait:

  • Description: Any bait visible from above, typically consisting of feathers, animal flesh, fur, hide, or entrails.
  • Usage: Attracts animals to traps but is regulated to prevent non-target captures and to adhere to ethical trapping standards.


  • Description: A wire noose used for restraining fur-bearing animals, typically in a water set.
  • Usage: Allows for the capture of animals in aquatic environments, commonly used for species like beaver or muskrat.

Water Set:

  • Description: A trap or snare set in a manner that permits the trap, snare, or trapped animal to reach unfrozen water.
  • Usage: Primarily used for aquatic or semi-aquatic species, ensuring effective and often more humane capture.

Regulations for Specific Animals

Protected Species in Wisconsin

Protected species, including the badger, Canada lynx, cougar, flying squirrel, moose, American marten, white or albino deer, wolverine, and others, are designated as having no open trapping season. These species are protected due to their endangered, threatened, or vulnerable status. Trapping these animals is prohibited to preserve their populations and maintain ecological balance. Conservation efforts, alongside regulations, ensure these species are shielded from undue harm, reflecting Wisconsin's commitment to biodiversity and wildlife conservation.

Unprotected Species and Trapping Permissions

Contrasting protected species, Wisconsin designates certain animals as unprotected, meaning they may be trapped year-round. This category typically includes opossums, skunks, porcupines, red squirrels, woodchucks, and weasels. These species are often considered nuisance animals or are abundant enough that trapping does not significantly impact their populations. Regulations permit landowners and licensed trappers to manage these species on their property, particularly if they pose a threat to property, livestock, or other resources. It's a balance between property rights and wildlife management, allowing for the control of animal populations while still maintaining humane trapping practices.

Special Rule Clarifications

Special rules are laid out to clarify the nuances of trapping regulations, such as preseason marking of trap sites, warden authority, and specifics of trapping on Managed Forest Law (MFL) and Forest Crop Law (FCL) Lands. For example, while conservation wardens have broad authority to enforce wildlife laws, they are not authorized to enforce trespass laws, a distinction important for both landowners and trappers. Similarly, regulations around trapping along roadsides or navigable waterways are detailed to prevent disputes and ensure safe and responsible trapping practices.

Trapping in Managed Areas

Certain areas, like the Horicon National Wildlife Refuge and Horicon Marsh State Wildlife Area, have special regulations and require permits for trapping due to their unique ecosystems and the species they harbor. Additionally, the Mississippi River Zone has its own set of rules, particularly on federal lands, reflecting the diverse and region-specific considerations that go into managing wildlife and trapping activities.

Trapping Rules and Methods

Trap Checking Requirements

In Wisconsin, trappers are obligated to check their traps regularly to ensure the humane treatment of captured animals and adherence to regulations. The frequency of checks varies depending on the trap type and the environment (water or land). For instance, non-submersion sets must be attended to and checked at least once every day, while submersion sets can have longer intervals between checks. This not only ensures the welfare of the animal but also adheres to ethical trapping standards.

Non-Submersion (Dry) Set

Non-submersion sets, commonly known as dry sets, are primarily used for land-dwelling animals. Trappers must check these sets at least once every day to ensure the humane treatment of captured animals. The daily check is crucial for both the welfare of the animal and to comply with ethical trapping standards. Once checked, any captured animals must be promptly removed from the set.

Special Consideration: Weasel Boxes

Weasel boxes have a slightly relaxed checking schedule due to the specific nature of trapping weasels:

  • Entrance Hole: Must not exceed 1⅜ inches in diameter to ensure the trap is selective for weasels.
  • Trap Type: Must utilize a body-grip trap, which can include a foothold trap or a rat snap trap, designed specifically for the size and nature of weasels.
  • Anchoring: The entire setup must be securely anchored to an immovable object to prevent escape or interference.

Water Set

Water sets are designed for aquatic or semi-aquatic species and, like dry sets, require daily attention. These traps must be checked in person at least once each day, and any animals must be removed promptly. This regular check ensures the welfare of both the target and any unintended species that might be captured. The exception to this is submersion sets, which have different regulations due to their design and usage.

Submersion Set

Submersion sets are a specific type of water set designed to ensure the captured animal is submerged:

  • Design and Usage: Typically involves slide wires, poles, locking devices, or weighted traps. These are carefully staked in deep water areas.
  • Checking Frequency: Must be attended and checked in person at least every four days. Regular monitoring is also essential to ensure the trap remains effective, especially if water levels fluctuate.
  • Animal Removal: Captured animals must be removed from the set unless it is an under-ice set, where conditions are different and more challenging.

Under-Ice Set

In freezing conditions, under-ice sets are used, primarily for species like beavers:

  • Checking Requirements: Unlike other traps, there are no mandated regular checking periods for under-ice sets due to the difficulty and danger of accessing these traps under ice-covered water.
  • Trapper Responsibility: While the regulations might be less strict, ethical trapping practices encourage trappers to check these traps as frequently as safely possible to ensure the humane treatment of captured animals.

Trap Size and Placement Restrictions

The state mandates specific guidelines on the size and placement of traps to minimize the risk to non-target species and ensure safe, selective, and humane trapping practices. For example, there are restrictions on the jaw spread of traps and the height at which they can be set. These rules are designed to protect both wildlife and people who may come into contact with traps. Trappers must be well-versed in these restrictions to avoid unintentional harm or legal repercussions.

Specific Restrictions

  1. Water Set Traps:

    • Jaw Spread: Must not be smaller than 5½ inches for jaw traps or body-grip traps that are 60 square inches or less, except during muskrat or mink season in the zone you are trapping.
  2. Height Above Ground:

    • Bird Protection: No trap or device designed to capture or kill birds should be set, placed, or operated more than 3 feet above the ground.
  3. Trap Sets Near Water:

    • Permitted Season: You are only allowed to operate trap sets that permit the trapped animal to reach water during muskrat, mink, beaver, or otter trapping season or unless using a commercially manufactured enclosed trigger trap.
  4. Body-Grip Trap Restrictions:

    • Size Limitation: No body-grip trap that is 75 square inches or larger can be operated unless at least half of the trap is located underwater at all times.
    • Placement Proximity: Body-grip traps larger than 60 square inches and snares or cable restraints of any size must not be set:
      • Within 3 feet of any road right-of-way culvert unless completely submerged in water.
      • Within 3 feet of any woven or welded wire fence.
      • Within 100 yards of any building devoted to human occupancy without the owner’s consent.
  5. Jawed Trap Restrictions:

    • Teeth Restrictions: Jawed traps with teeth are not permitted unless they are located completely underwater.
    • Jaw Spread: The jaw spread width must not exceed 7 inches until Nov. 30 unless it's a water set, and not more than 8 inches at any other time or as a water set.
  6. Snare Restrictions:

    • Underwater Placement: The bottom half of the snare noose must be located underwater at all times.
    • Specifications: Snares must adhere to specific requirements including:
      • Cable length not exceeding 5 feet.
      • Use of galvanized aircraft cable.
      • Cable or wire diameter not exceeding 1/8 inch.
      • Non-spring activated cable with an included swivel.

Methods and Practices for Ethical Trapping

Handling of Captured Animals

In Wisconsin, all live fur-bearing animals captured during the open season must either be released unharmed or humanely dispatched and included in the trapper's daily bag. It's illegal to keep any such animals alive post-capture unless the trapper has obtained specific DNR permits or licenses allowing for the live possession of these animals. This strict regulation ensures the humane treatment of wildlife and adherence to conservation principles.

Restrictions and Prohibitions

  1. Seasonal Restrictions:

    • Closed Season Activity: Setting or using traps, snares, or cable restraints for fur-bearing animals during closed seasons is prohibited, except for activities related to nuisance wildlife control.
  2. Baiting and Scent Use:

    • Sight-Exposed Bait: Using visible bait (feathers, animal flesh, fur, etc.) within 25 feet of any trap is generally prohibited except when using enclosed trigger traps and cage traps.
    • Off-Season Baiting: Placing bait or scent for fur-bearing animals during the closed season is restricted to specific circumstances like nuisance control.
  3. Trap Identification:

    • Tagging Requirement: All traps must have a metal tag attached, legibly stamped, or engraved with the trapper's name, address, or customer ID number.
  4. Method of Take:

    • Specific Methods: Beaver, fisher, mink, muskrat, and otter must be captured only by trapping or snaring. Dispatching these animals must follow specific legal methods, with restrictions on using firearms or spears for certain species.
  5. Trap Type and Usage:

    • Allowed Traps: Trappers are permitted to use only certain types of traps for capturing fur-bearing animals, including jawed traps, cage/box traps, and several others. Each trap type must be used in compliance with the construction and operational guidelines to ensure selective and humane capture.
  6. Environmental and Habitat Protection:

    • Structure Damages: Destruction or damage to natural structures like mink dens, muskrat houses, and beaver dams is typically prohibited, protecting both the animal populations and their habitats.
    • Artificial Structures: Placement of artificial structures on ice to catch fur-bearing animals is not allowed, maintaining the integrity of natural environments.
  7. Respect for Property and Equipment:

    • Interference with Trapping: It is unlawful to molest or take traps, cable restraints, snares, or trapped animals that belong to others. This regulation ensures respect for personal property and the efforts of fellow trappers.

Responsible Trapping

Alongside the specific rules and regulations, there's a broader expectation of responsible behavior from trappers. This includes understanding the impact of trapping on wildlife populations, respecting the rights of property owners, and being a good steward of the land. Trappers are encouraged to continuously educate themselves on best practices and new regulations, participate in trapper education programs, and engage with the trapping community to share knowledge and experiences.

Colony Traps and Possession Restrictions

Colony Traps

Colony traps are a particular type of trapping device used primarily for catching multiple muskrats or occasionally minks in a single setting. These are enclosure-type devices designed for efficient and humane capture.

Usage and Restrictions:

  1. Dimensions: Colony traps must not exceed 36 ½ inches in length and 6 ½ inches in height or width. For round (tube-shaped) traps, the diameter must not exceed 6 ½ inches.
  2. Placement Proximity: Colony traps must not be placed within 3 feet of any culvert to avoid unintended captures and ensure the free movement of other wildlife.
  3. Baiting: Bait, including scent, is not allowed in or around the colony trap to ensure selectivity and minimize the capture of non-target species.
  4. Underwater Requirement: Colony traps must be completely submerged underwater, ensuring the quick dispatch of captured animals and reducing stress.
  5. No Obstructions: It's prohibited to use colony traps in conjunction with any fencing, netting, or other materials that create an underwater obstruction designed to channel animals into the trap.

Possession Restrictions

Raw and Green Pelts:

  • Raw Fur: This term refers to undressed or untanned skins or pelts of any fur-bearing animal, including those that have been stretched and dried.
  • Green Pelts: These are skins not removed from the carcass or pelts that have been removed but not tanned, fleshed, stretched, or dried.

Possession and Transfer Regulations:

  1. Time Limit: Possession of green pelts of bobcats or otters longer than 7 days after the month of harvest is not allowed unless the pelt has a valid certification tag attached.
  2. Prohibited Actions: It is unlawful to possess any mink, muskrat, fisher, or otter pelt that has been shot or speared.
  3. License Requirements: Any raw pelt of fisher, mink, muskrat, or otter requires a current trapping or fur dealer's license or a special license or permit issued by the DNR.
  4. Shipping Regulations: When shipping fur, the container must be labeled with the number and type of species being shipped and the shipper's details, including the trapping license number.
  5. Transfer and Purchase: The transfer, trade, sale, or purchase of raw pelts or unskinned carcasses of bobcats or otters is regulated, requiring a certification tag to be attached and locked to the pelt. Additionally, purchasing any raw fur requires a fur dealer’s license unless specific authorization is given by the DNR.

Special Regulations for Bobcat and Fisher Permits

  • Application and Preference Points: Trappers can apply for bobcat and fisher permits, choosing either to obtain a preference point or enter the drawing for a permit. Notably, if a trapper is awarded a permit and chooses not to use it, they will lose all accumulated preference points.
  • Transfer of Permits: Bobcat or fisher permits can be transferred to youth or disabled permit holders under specific conditions to encourage inclusive and responsible trapping.

Trapping in State Parks

General Regulations

In Wisconsin, trapping is allowed in many state parks with specific exceptions to ensure the safety of both wildlife and park visitors. Notable exceptions include Copper Culture, Cross Plains, Governor Nelson, Heritage Hill, Lakeshore, and Lost Dauphin state parks, among others. A state park sticker or pass is required for all vehicles entering any state park.

Trapping Timeframes and Restrictions

Trappers are allowed to engage in trapping activities during two distinct periods: November 15 to December 15, and April 1 to April 30. These timeframes are likely set to coincide with specific seasons for various furbearers and to minimize conflicts with park visitors.

Detailed Regulations

  • Water Traps: Traps not placed completely underwater must be enclosed trigger traps. This requirement likely exists to minimize harm to non-target species and increase the safety of park visitors.
  • Hours of Operation: Trappers may enter state parks or trails one hour before sunrise and must exit by 11 p.m. This regulation helps ensure that trapping activities do not interfere with other park users and adhere to safety considerations.
  • Location Restrictions: Traps cannot be set, placed, or checked within 100 yards of designated trails, use areas like picnic areas, campgrounds, beaches, or any area in the park closed to trapping. These restrictions are vital for public safety and the enjoyment of the parks by all visitors.
  • Seasonal Compliance: Trapping is only allowed during the open season for the species being targeted, ensuring that park trapping activities align with broader wildlife management goals and legal hunting seasons.

Trapper Responsibilities

  • Staying Informed: Trappers must be aware of and comply with all regulations specific to the state park they are trapping in, including any specific maps or guidelines provided for areas open to trapping.
  • Campsite Considerations: Registered campers who are trapping and staying in designated campsites have slightly different rules but must still adhere to the general guidelines for trapping within the park.
  • Ethical Practices: As with all trapping activities, ethical considerations, including the humane treatment of animals and respect for other park users, are paramount.

Trapping on DNR-Owned and -Managed Lands

General Regulations

When trapping on lands owned and managed by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR), trappers are expected to follow specific guidelines to preserve natural growth and protect natural and archaeological features. The regulations ensure that trapping activities do not adversely affect the environment or the historical significance of the lands.

Specific Regulations

  • Protection of Natural Features: Trappers, along with all visitors, are prohibited from destroying, molesting, defacing, or attempting to remove any natural growth or natural or archaeological feature. This rule is essential to preserve the natural beauty and ecological integrity of DNR-owned lands.

  • Collection of Natural Items: The collection of edible fruits, nuts, wild mushrooms, wild asparagus, and watercress is allowed without a permit but only for personal consumption. This allowance is made for individuals who forage for personal use while respecting natural resources.

  • Willow Stem Cutting: Generally, cutting willow stems or any natural vegetation is not permissible to maintain the natural landscape and prevent harm to wildlife habitats. However, there is an exception for cutting willow stems with a diameter of 2 ½ inches or smaller from species that are not endangered or threatened. This exception is typically granted for personal, non-commercial use such as creating trap stakes. Trappers must obtain approval from the property manager before harvesting willow stems, ensuring that the activity doesn't negatively impact the environment or wildlife.

Marten Restoration Areas and Dryland Trapping

Marten Restoration Areas

Wisconsin has designated specific areas for the restoration of the American marten, a state-endangered species. In these regions, such as Pine River and Clam Lake, as well as parts of the Apostle Islands, special regulations are in place to protect these valuable ecosystems and the species they support.

Permitted Trapping Methods in Restoration Areas

  • Cable Restraints: Cable restraints are allowed but must adhere to regulations ensuring they do not pose a significant threat to martens.
  • Cage or Box-type Traps: These traps are permissible and are often recommended due to their selective and non-lethal nature.
  • Weasel Boxes: Allowed with an opening of 1 ⅜ inches or less, typically used for smaller furbearers and must be designed to minimize the accidental capture of non-target species.
  • Footholds with Pan Tension Devices: These traps are permissible if they have a pan tension device of four pounds or greater, ensuring that they are selective and reduce the chance of catching non-target animals.

Restrictions and Guidelines

  • Limited Use of Traps: In the gray-highlighted restoration areas of Pine River, Clam Lake, and the Apostle Islands, only the above-mentioned traps can be used. No other dryland traps are legal in these sensitive regions to protect the marten populations and other non-target species.
  • Open Season Compliance: Even the permitted traps can only be used for species that have an open season, ensuring that trapping activities do not interfere with the breeding or nurturing periods of vulnerable wildlife.

Incidental Take and Reporting

  • Scientific Use of Carcasses: The carcasses of incidentally captured animals are used scientifically to understand species better and support the trapper education program. This use includes studying the impacts of trapping on populations and the effectiveness of regulations.
  • Reporting Incidental Catch: If trappers accidentally catch a protected species, such as the American marten, they are urged to contact their local conservation warden or call 800-TIP-WDNR (800-847-9367) immediately. Instructions will be provided on how to release the animal or, if it's deceased, how to transport it appropriately to the department.

Trapper Education Course

Overview of the Wisconsin Cooperative Trapper Education Program (WCTEP)

The Wisconsin Cooperative Trapper Education Program (WCTEP) is a collaborative effort between the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the Wisconsin Trappers Association. It is designed to teach ethical trapping procedures, the most humane trapping methods, the history of trapping in Wisconsin and North America, and basic wildlife management principles.

Importance of Trapper Education

Trapper education is vital for maintaining sustainable furbearer populations and ensuring ethical trapping practices. It teaches new or inexperienced trappers the importance of conservation, responsible wildlife management, and maintaining positive relationships with landowners and other outdoor enthusiasts.

Who Must Attend

All first-time trappers are required to complete the trapper education course before purchasing a trapping license. The course is open to anyone interested in trapping, with a recommendation that participants be at least 10 years old. Trapper education ensures that individuals are well-prepared and knowledgeable about the legal, ethical, and practical aspects of trapping.

Course Availability and Registration

Trapper education courses are offered statewide, with each instructor setting their schedule. The courses generally consist of evening sessions and a day or a full weekend of practical instruction. Registration is available online or through WCTEP District Coordinators.

Course Content

The trapper education course covers a wide range of topics, including:

  • Trapping history and its role in wildlife conservation.
  • Understanding trapping laws and ethics.
  • Techniques for trap preparation, adjustment, setting, and safety.
  • Principles of wildlife management and furbearer biology.
  • Humane trapping methods and how to handle catches.
  • Wetland and upland trapping considerations.
  • Pelt preparation, skinning, grading, and marketing.
  • Practical exercises for setting dry land and water sets.

Instructors and Materials

The course is taught by volunteer instructors who have passed background checks and completed instructor training. Participants are provided with a student manual, a set of Wisconsin trapping regulations, an arm patch, and for Wisconsin residents, the first year's trapping license.

Additional Course Options

For those unable to attend in-person classes, a five-week correspondence course and an online course are available. These options provide flexibility for individuals to complete trapper education at their own pace.

Support and Further Information

Trapper education is supported by the sale of fur from incidentally taken furbearers, contributing to the program's funding. For more information, registration details, or questions about the course, individuals can visit the Wisconsin DNR website, contact the statewide or district coordinators, or refer to the Wisconsin Trappers Association for additional resources.

Youth Supervised Trapping


Wisconsin encourages the involvement of youth in trapping as a way to pass on traditional outdoor skills, foster a sense of responsibility, and promote wildlife management and conservation from an early age. The state provides specific regulations to ensure that young trappers engage in this activity safely and legally.

Supervised Trapping for Youth Under 16

  • License Requirements: Youth under the age of 16 may be trapped without a personal trapping license if they are under the direct supervision of a licensed trapper. This provision allows youths to learn trapping hands-on from an experienced individual without the formalities of obtaining their license.
  • Trapper Education: While the supervised youth are not required to have completed a trapper education course, it is implied that the supervising adult will provide guidance and education on ethical and safe trapping practices.
  • Permits and Authorizations: Youth involved in supervised trapping are still eligible to apply for, purchase, and use specific trapping permits, such as those for bobcats and fishers. They must also obtain otter harvest authorizations through the Go Wild system if they wish to pursue otters.

Responsibilities and Regulations

  • Trap Tagging: All traps used by youth under supervision must be tagged with the supervising licensed trapper's information. This requirement ensures accountability and adherence to trapping regulations.
  • Independence and Education: Youths under age 16 who wish to trap independently (without direct supervision) must complete a trapper education program, purchase their trapping license, and tag their traps with metal tags. This progression ensures that as young trappers become more independent, they are adequately prepared and knowledgeable about trapping laws and ethics.

Mentored Trapping Program

Program Overview

The Mentored Trapping Program in Wisconsin is designed to safely introduce and guide individuals interested in learning the art and science of trapping. This program is especially aimed at those who have not completed the trapper education course and are seeking practical experience under the guidance of an experienced trapper.

Eligibility and Licensing

  • Youth Participation: Individuals under age 16 can participate in trapping activities under a mentor without needing a separate license, aligning with the youth-supervised trapping regulations.
  • Adult Participation: Those 16 years and older who wish to trap but haven't completed the trapper education must engage in the Mentored Trapping Program. They need a mentored trapping license and must be accompanied by a qualified mentor.
  • License Validity: Each mentored trapping license is valid for one trapping season, and an individual can receive only two such licenses in their lifetime.

Restrictions and Permissions

  • Species-Specific Permits: Mentees with a mentored trapping license are restricted from receiving certain species harvest tags, such as fisher. They can assist in trapping these species but cannot be the primary trapper. However, they are eligible to apply for and possibly receive a bobcat harvest tag, provided they also have the necessary small game hunting license.
  • Preference Points: Mentees are allowed to apply for preference points for species like bobcats or fishers while holding a mentored trapping license. If they are successful in the draw, they must complete the required trapper education and obtain a regular trapping license to use the awarded permit.

Operational Guidelines

  • Trap Tagging: Both mentor and mentee must tag any traps used with their respective information. This requirement ensures accountability and adherence to trapping regulations.
  • Mentor Responsibilities: Mentors must be at least 18 years old and possess a valid trapping license unless exempt. They should be either the parent or guardian of the mentee or authorized by them if the mentee is under 18. Mentors are responsible for remaining in contact with the mentee throughout the trapping activities, ensuring safety, legality, and ethical trapping practices.
  • Multiple Mentees: A mentor can guide more than one person in trapping, provided they can safely and adequately serve as a mentor to all mentees. This condition ensures that each mentee receives enough attention and guidance to learn effectively and safely.

Best Management Practices (BMPs) in Trapping

Understanding BMPs

Best Management Practices (BMPs) for trapping are continually developed by trappers and state wildlife agencies across the United States. These practices are comprehensive guidelines identifying the most efficient, selective, safe, and humane trapping techniques and equipment. BMPs are derived from sound scientific methods, involving field tests and extensive data collection, aimed at enhancing the welfare of trapped animals and ensuring effective furbearer management.

The Role of BMPs in Wisconsin

Wisconsin has been at the forefront of the BMP initiative since its inception in 1997. The state's commitment is evident in its contribution to the development and dissemination of BMPs, ensuring that trappers have access to information about state-of-the-art traps and systems. Wisconsin's significant contribution includes a 3-year study culminating in the publication titled "Cable Restraints in Wisconsin – A Guide to Responsible Use," marking the legal use of cable restraints in the state.

Public Impressions of Trapping

The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies surveyed in 2016 to gauge public perception of trapping in Connecticut, Indiana, and Wisconsin. The results were encouraging, showing that a majority of the Wisconsin public supports regulated trapping. The key messages derived from the survey emphasized that regulated trapping is safe, does not threaten wildlife populations, and is managed through scientific regulations enforced by conservation wardens. The survey highlighted the public's understanding of the benefits of trapping, including wildlife management and damage control.

Why BMPs are Needed

  • Responsible Management: BMPs are integral in ensuring the continued responsible management of wildlife resources. They help in maintaining healthy populations and ecosystems.
  • Improving Trapping Methods: Ongoing development of BMPs is crucial for enhancing the humane treatment of animals. By improving traps and techniques, trappers can ensure minimal distress and harm to animals.
  • Public Acceptance: BMPs help maintain and grow public acceptance of trapping by addressing real and perceived issues associated with the practice. Clear, humane, and efficient practices reassure the public about the ethical nature of trapping.
  • Future of Trapping: The sustained development and implementation of BMPs are vital for the continuation of regulated trapping. They ensure that trapping practices evolve with changing societal values and scientific understanding.

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