Minnesota Trapping Laws & Regulations

Trapping Overview

Best Management Practices

  • Resource: Trappers are encouraged to become proficient and ethical by reviewing the Best Management Practices for trapping provided by the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies.

License Requirements

  • General Requirement: Residents and nonresidents aged 16 and over must possess both a small game license and a trapping license to trap small game and furbearers.
  • Land Ownership Exemptions: Individuals may trap without a license on their own land, provided it is their principal residence, particularly for removing nuisance animals.
  • Age-Specific Rules:
    • Under 13: No trapping license required for residents.
    • Ages 13-17: Junior trapping license required for residents.
    • Ages 18-64: Regular trapping license required for residents.
    • 65 and over: Regular or reduced-fee trapping license required for residents.
  • Inclusion in Limit: Fisher, otter, bobcat, or pine marten taken by residents under age 5 must be included in the limit of the accompanying parent or guardian.
  • Nonresident Landowners: May trap only on land they own in Minnesota with appropriate nonresident licenses.
  • Lifetime License Holders: Those with a lifetime sports or small game license need a free trapping endorsement.

Trapper Education

  • Mandatory Education: Individuals born after December 31, 1989, need a trapper education certificate to obtain a license, provided they haven't been issued one in a previous year.
  • Course Availability: Offered by the Minnesota Trappers Association statewide, free of charge, with mandatory field training.
  • Requirement Specificity: Must take the Minnesota-specific course to meet the requirement.

If You Find a Dog in a Trap

  • Safety and Responsibility: Trappers must follow regulations and take precautions to avoid accidentally capturing non-target animals, including dogs.
  • Reporting and Assistance: If a dog is found in a trap or caught, contact the local conservation officer or the Minnesota DNR for assistance and report the incident.
  • Release Instructions: Guidance for releasing dogs from traps is provided by the DNR, with specific pages dedicated to this information.

General Trapping Regulations

Trap and Snare Identification

  • Identification Requirement: Traps or snares set outside your own property must have affixed identification, including one of the following: driver's license state and number, Minnesota identification card number, name and mailing address, or MNDNR number.
  • Legibility: The identification must remain legible for the entire duration the trap or snare is set, whether on land or in water.
  • Seasonal Exception: From April 1 to August 31, trap identification provisions do not apply to traps set for taking unprotected wild animals.

Trap Size and Design Regulations

  • Maximum Size: Foot or leghold traps cannot have a jaw opening greater than 8¾ inches. Body-gripping traps cannot exceed a 7½ inch jaw opening, except when set as a waterset.
  • Body-Gripping Traps on Public Lands and Waters: Must meet certain criteria if the jaw opening is between 6½ and 7½ inches, including recessed placement, absence of bait or lure within 20 feet, or elevation at least 3 feet from the ground or snowpack.

Setting Traps Near Culverts and in Right-of-Way

  • Culverts: Body-gripping traps larger than 6½ inches are restricted in or near the opening of small culverts, except when completely submerged.
  • Road Right-of-Way: Similar restrictions apply for setting large body-gripping traps within the road right-of-way close to occupied buildings, with the exception of completely submerged watersets.

Construction Recommendations

  • Cubbies: The DNR recommends constructing cubbies so the trap is recessed at least 7 inches from all sides of the opening, complying with regulations. Natural materials complying with regulations are also acceptable.

Lynx Management Zone Regulations

  • Updates: New updates for lynx management zone regulations are specified in the regulations document.

Waterset Definitions

  • Waterset: A trap or snare set with the jaws or snare loop at least half-submerged in water.
  • Completely Submerged Waterset: A trap or snare where the jaws or snare loop are entirely submerged in water.

Trap Setting and Tending

Time and Light Use

  • Time Restrictions: Traps may only be set or tended from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m., with certain exceptions for the opening day of specific species.
  • Light for Nighttime: A person on foot may use a light to set or tend traps but must not possess certain firearms or bows while using the light.

Agent Authorization and Trap Interaction

  • Authorized Agents: Trappers may authorize someone in writing, who has all necessary licenses, to tend to their traps, including resetting and animal removal. Specific site validation coupon requirements may apply for certain species.
  • Tampering and Removal: It is unlawful to remove or tamper with legally set traps without authorization from the trapper, a DNR agent, or the landowner/lessee.

Proximity and Tending Requirements

  • Proximity to Water: Traps may not be set within 50 feet of any water except temporary surface water within 30 days before the open season for mink and muskrat.
  • Daily Tending: Traps capturing protected animals that can't drown them must be tended daily, except for body-gripping traps. Drowning traps and body-gripping traps must be tended at least once every third calendar day.
  • Foothold and Snap Traps: Certain small traps, such as foothold traps with a jaw spread of 4¾ inches or less, need only be tended once every third calendar day.

Furbearer Zones

  • Zone Regulations: Different zones have specific regulations and seasons for trapping various furbearers, with guidelines provided in the hunting regulations document.

Seasonal and Equipment Restrictions

  • Seasonal Restrictions: No one may place traps before the opening season, and all traps must be removed after the close of the season.
  • Killing Before Removal: Animals must be killed before being removed from the site to ensure humane practices.

Respect and Compliance

  • Landowner Rights: Trappers must respect the rights and property of landowners, ensuring all traps are legally placed and tended.
  • Conservation: Adhering to regulations helps maintain sustainable wildlife populations and promotes ethical trapping practices.

Water Trapping Regulations

Muskrat Trapping

  • Trap Site Marking: Flags, stakes, or devices marking muskrat houses are only permissible when an operational trap is set at the time of marking.
  • Muskrat House and Den: It's illegal to disturb or destroy muskrat houses or dens, though traps may be set at natural entrances. Any material removed for trapping must be wetted and used to plug the opening.

Beaver Trapping

  • House and Dam: Disturbing or destroying beaver houses, dams, burrows, or dens is prohibited.
  • Trap Placement: Traps cannot be set inside or on the outside of any beaver house above the waterline.

General Restrictions

  • Mink and Muskrats: These animals cannot be taken by digging or with the aid of dogs.
  • Permit Requirement: A permit is required to trap beaver or otter on state wildlife management areas, obtainable from the wildlife manager.

Baited Foothold Trap Regulations for Birds

  • Definition of Bait: Bait includes any animal or animal parts, whether live or dead fish, with the exception of small pieces of fur and feathers used for flagging.

Proximity to Bait

  • Distance Requirement: Foothold traps must not be set or maintained within 20 feet of any bait that is visible to soaring birds.

Taking Birds

  • Prohibition: It is generally prohibited to take a bird with a foothold trap.
  • Special Permit: Taking birds with a foothold trap is only allowed under a special permit issued for specific circumstances or research purposes.

Snares Regulations

General Use

  • Eligibility: Licensed trappers may use snares for capturing all species of protected wild mammals that are permissible by traps.
  • Breakaway Device: Snares must include a breakaway device disassembling at 350 pounds pull or less, except under ice, ensuring the safety of non-targeted large animals.
  • Tending Frequency: Snares that do not drown the captured animal must be tended at least once every calendar day.

Design and Placement

  • Loop Diameter: The snare loop may not exceed 10 inches in diameter.
  • Loop Height: The top of the loop must not be more than 20 inches above the surface beneath the snare loop.
  • Cable Diameter: Snare cable or wire cannot exceed ⅛ inch in diameter.
  • Prohibited Set Locations: Snares cannot be set in culverts except as a completely submerged waterset, and not with spring poles or other lifting devices.
  • Allowable Spring Snares: Snares that operate with springs but do not lift the animal are allowed.
  • After Season: Snares set for a protected animal must be removed after the close of the applicable trapping season.

Specific Restrictions and Allowances

  • Water Sets: Snares may be used as water sets during the appropriate seasons statewide.
  • Deer Trails and Bears: Snares cannot be set in deer trails, and bears cannot be taken with snares.

Snaring Zones

  • Forest Zone: Allowed on public land and private land with the landowner's permission.
  • Farmland Zone: Allowed on private land from October 28-March 31 (north and south mink/muskrat/beaver/otter zone) with the landowner's permission. Snares may also be set as water sets or on the frozen surface of public waters but not on public lands, road rights-of-way, or in fence lines along road rights-of-way.

Site Validation Coupons for Fisher, Pine Marten, and River Otter

Obtaining Coupons

  • Availability: Free upon request at license vendors before trapping.
  • Allocation: Trappers receive coupons according to the potential harvest, such as six coupons for targeting fisher, pine marten, and river otter.

Usage and Validation

  • At Kill Site: Coupons must be validated at the kill site by marking the month, date, time (AM/PM), and species.
  • Possession While Trapping: Coupons should be in possession while taking or transporting the animals but don't need to be attached to them.
  • Authorized Agents: Agents removing animals must validate their own site validation coupon at and before removing the animal from the kill site.
  • Inclusion in Limit: Fisher, river otter, bobcat, or pine marten taken by a resident under age 5 must be included in the accompanying parent's or guardian's limit.

Coupon Rules and Replacement

  • Non-Transferable: Coupons are specifically assigned to the trapper and cannot be transferred to another person.
  • Acquisition: Coupons can be obtained anytime before or during the trapping season.
  • Replacements: If lost or damaged, replacements can be requested from any license vendor and will be marked as replacements.

Registration Requirement

  • Furbearer Registration: Completed site validation coupons must be presented for each fisher, pine marten, and river otter when registering the pelts.

Releasing Protected Species

Avoidance and Release

  • Avoidance Effort: Trappers should make every effort to avoid capturing fully protected species.
  • Release of Incidentals: If incidentally captured and alive, protected species should be released back into the wild.

Reporting and Possession

  • Dead or Irreleasable Animals: If a protected species is dead in the trap or cannot be released for other reasons, contact a DNR conservation officer immediately.
  • Lynx Specifics: Without authorization from a conservation officer, lynx that were incidentally killed or lawfully killed cannot be possessed or transported.

Furbearer Pelting and Transportation

Service Fee

  • Entitlement: Individuals preserving the pelt of a protected furbearer accidentally or lawfully killed may be entitled to up to 50 percent of the sale proceeds or a maximum of $25 per pelt as a pelting fee.
  • Authorization Requirement: Contact the local DNR conservation officer or regional DNR Enforcement office within 24 hours for authorization to pelt the animal.

Lynx Management Zone Regulations

Snare Specifications

  • Loop Size and Wire Diameter: Specific requirements for loop size and wire diameter to minimize incidental capture of Canada lynx.
  • Anchoring and Equipment: Snares must be anchored and equipped with certain features to ensure they are selective and minimize harm.

Staking and Tethering Traps

  • Tether Length and Swivels: Detailed regulations on tethering length and the requirement for swivels in foothold traps.

Bait and Sight Attractants

  • Prohibited Materials: Restrictions on the use of rabbit or hare flesh and other bait exposure requirements.
  • Sight Attractants: Prohibitions on using flags or other attractants near traps or snares.

Body Grip and Cubby Box Traps

  • Setting Requirements: Specific regulations for body grip traps' size and placement to ensure ethical and humane trapping.
  • Cubby Box Illustration: Provides guidance on constructing cubby boxes for trapping.

Reporting Incidentally Taken Furbearers


  • Immediate Notification: If a lynx is incidentally or lawfully killed, the person must notify a local conservation officer or authorized department employee and receive authorization to possess, transport, or skin the animal.

Common Furbearers

  • Possession and Transport: Mink, muskrat, beaver, badger, opossum, fox, or raccoon that are incidentally or lawfully killed can be possessed and transported if the local conservation officer or authorized employee is notified within 24 hours and before any skinning begins.

Fisher, Otter, Pine Marten, and Bobcat

  • Reporting Requirement: These species must be reported to a local conservation officer or through the specified hotline, providing essential information about the incident.
  • Authorization Requirement: The person must not skin, transfer, or dispose of the animal without explicit authorization from a conservation officer after reporting.

Information for Reporting

When reporting an incidentally taken furbearer, be prepared to provide:

  • Trapper’s Information: Name and DNR number as appears on the trapping license.
  • Incident Details: Date and time of discovery, number and species taken, and general location of the catch.
  • Carcass Location: Address where the carcass is kept.
  • Contact Information: A reachable telephone number.

Furbearer Registration

Pelt and Carcass Requirements

  • Pelt Removal: The pelt of each bobcat, fisher, pine marten, and otter must be removed and presented for registration by the person who trapped it.
  • Carcass and Head Surrender: The entire carcass of each bobcat and the head of each pine marten and fisher must also be surrendered at the time of registration.

Registration Stations and Process

  • Where to Register: Pelts, carcasses, site validation coupons, and heads must be registered at a DNR registration station or area wildlife office, preferably within 48 hours after the close of the season.
  • Appointment for Registration: If necessary, appointments can be made for registration due to unavoidable conflicts.
  • Preparation for Registration: To expedite the registration process, trappers should bring written information for each animal including species, sex, method of take, date taken, and location details. Forms are available at wildlife offices and online.

Post-Registration Requirements

  • Tagging: Plastic registration tags must remain affixed to the raw pelt until it is tanned or mounted.
  • Site Validation Coupons: While these need not be attached to the animal, they should be presented during registration.

Furbearer Registration Stations

Fisher, Pine Marten, River Otter, and Bobcat Registration

  • Designated DNR Offices: These furbearers can be registered at designated DNR offices without an appointment on specified dates.
  • January and December Dates: Specific registration times are provided for river otter and bobcat in January and all listed furbearers in December.
  • Appointment Options: Outside of these dates, registration is available at any DNR area wildlife office throughout open seasons by appointment.


  • Aitkin/Wildlife: 1200 Minnesota Ave S, Aitkin, MN. Phone: 218-429-3051
  • Backus/Forestry: 4391 State Hwy 87 NW, Backus, MN. Phone: 218-732-8452
  • Baudette/Wildlife: 204 Main St E, Baudette, MN. Phone: 218-395-6031
  • Bemidji/Wildlife: 2114 Bemidji Ave, Bemidji, MN. Phone: 218-308-2339
  • Big Falls/Forestry: 7754 Town Rd 293, Big Falls, MN. Phone: 218-328-8860
  • Brainerd/Wildlife: 1601 Minnesota Dr, Brainerd, MN. Phone: 218-203-4302
  • Cambridge/Wildlife: 800 Oak Savanna Ln SW, Cambridge, MN. Phone: 763-284-7224
  • Cloquet/Wildlife: 305 Business Park Dr E, Cloquet, MN. Phone: 218-878-5661
  • Detroit Lakes/Wildlife: 14583 County Hwy 19, Detroit Lakes, MN. Phone: 218-846-8470
  • Duluth/Forestry: 4805 Rice Lake Rd, Duluth, MN. Phone: 218-878-5661
  • Eveleth/Forestry: 7979 Hwy 37, Eveleth, MN. Phone: 218-300-7860
  • Fergus Falls/Wildlife: 1509 1st Ave N, Fergus Falls, MN. Phone: 218-671-7968
  • Finland/Forestry: 6686 Hwy 1, Finland, MN. Phone: 218-834-1454
  • Forest Lake/Wildlife: 5463-C W Broadway, Forest Lake, MN. Phone: 651-539-3300
  • Grand Marais/Wildlife: 1356 Hwy 61 E, Grand Marais, MN. Phone: 218-834-1453
  • Grand Rapids/Wildlife: 1201 E Hwy 2, Grand Rapids, MN. Phone: 218-328-8860
  • Hibbing/Core Library: 1521 1st Ave, Hibbing, MN. Phone: 218-300-7860
  • International Falls/Wildlife: 392 Hwy 11 E, International Falls, MN. Phone: 218-328-8860

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here are 15 questions tailored to Minnesota state trapping regulations for SEO purposes:

  1. What are the general trapping regulations in Minnesota?

    • In Minnesota, trappers must have a valid license, adhere to specific trap size and design regulations, and follow rules for setting, tending, and checking traps.
  2. Do I need a license to trap in Minnesota?

    • Yes, all residents and nonresidents aged 16 and over must have both a small game license and a trapping license to trap in Minnesota.
  3. What types of traps are legal in Minnesota?

    • Legal traps in Minnesota include foothold traps, body-gripping traps, snares, and cage traps, each with specific regulations on size and usage.
  4. Are there specific regulations for setting snares in Minnesota?

    • Yes, Minnesota requires snares to have a breakaway device, meet size specifications, and be checked daily, among other regulations.
  5. How often must traps be checked in Minnesota?

    • Traps in Minnesota must be checked and tended at least once every calendar day for non-drowning sets, and at least once every third day for drowning sets and body-gripping traps.
  6. What is the Minnesota Walk-In Access Program?

    • The Walk-In Access Program provides public access to private land for hunting and requires a specific validation for access.
  7. What animals are considered protected species in Minnesota?

    • Protected species in Minnesota include the lynx and other non-target species, and specific regulations apply to accidental captures.
  8. How do I report incidentally taken furbearers in Minnesota?

    • Incidentals must be reported to a local conservation officer or through a designated hotline, with specific information provided about the incident.
  9. What are the baited foothold regulations for birds in Minnesota?

    • Foothold traps must not be set within 20 feet of visible bait to soaring birds and taking birds with foothold traps is generally prohibited without a special permit.
  10. What are the rules for furbearer registration in Minnesota?

    • Pelts of certain animals like bobcat, fisher, pine marten, and otter must be presented for registration at designated DNR offices, along with carcasses or heads as applicable.
  11. Can I trap on my own land without a license in Minnesota?

    • Yes, individuals may trap without a small game license on their own land if it is their principal residence, mainly for nuisance or damage control.
  12. What are the trapper education requirements in Minnesota?

    • Trappers born after December 31, 1989, need a trapper education certificate to obtain a license unless they have been issued a trapping license in a previous year.
  13. Are there specific trapping seasons in Minnesota?

    • Yes, Minnesota has specific open seasons for various species, and all trapping activities must adhere to these seasonal regulations.
  14. What should I do if I accidentally catch a lynx in Minnesota?

    • If you incidentally catch a lynx, immediately contact a local conservation officer for guidance and do not possess or transport the lynx without authorization.
  15. Where can I find more information on Minnesota trapping regulations?

    • The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) website provides comprehensive information on trapping regulations, educational resources, and updates for trappers.
Wild Advisor Pro


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