General Trapping Regulations

  • Residents under 16 years of age do not need a license to trap when accompanied by any person 18 years of age or older who possesses a valid state or county license to trap. Residents under 16 years of age who hold a resident junior trapping license are not required to be accompanied by a licensed adult while trapping. County residents 65 years of age and over do not need a license to trap on private property in their county of residence. Resident or nonresident landowners, and their spouses, children, grandchildren, spouses of such children and grandchildren, and the landowner’s parents do not need a license to trap within the boundaries of their own lands.
  • Trapping is allowed on any day of the week, including Sundays. In addition, trappers may shoot wild animals caught in traps on any day of the week (including Sundays) in order to dispatch them. No additional license is required other than a valid Virginia trapping license (unless you are license exempt).
  • Trapping on Department-owned or controlled lands and waters is allowed under the regulations of the Board unless prohibited by posted rules. The posted rules may require written authorization to trap on some areas or may specify other restrictions. National Forest lands will be open during the regular trapping seasons. Check with the Va. Department of Transportation and local authorities before trapping near highways.
  • It is lawful to set traps in water from December 1 through the last day of February, both dates inclusive, and at any time within the incorporated limits of any city or town in the Commonwealth and in the counties of Arlington, Chesterfield, Fairfax, Henrico, James City, Loudoun, Prince William, Spotsylvania, Stafford, Roanoke, and York, except as otherwise specifically provided by Department permit.
  • Any person setting or in possession of a steel foothold or body gripping trap or snare shall have it marked by means of a non-ferrous (does not contain iron) metal tag bearing his/her name and address or a permanent identification number issued by the Department. This requirement shall not apply to land­owners on their own land, nor to a bona fide tenant or lessee within the bounds of land rented or leased by him/her, nor to anyone transporting any such trap from its place of purchase.
  • Trappers must visit all traps once each day and remove all animals caught therein, except for completely submerged body-gripping traps which must be visited at least once every 72 hours.
  • Remote trap-checking systems may be used in lieu of a physical trap visit (remote cameras), but must provide notifications of trap closures or activity at the trap site once every 24 hours. Platforms must display status of signal strength and battery condition. If the device fails and does not report its status within a 24-hour check-in period, the user is required to physically check the trap within a 24 hours of the last communication with the device or platform.
  • The use of body gripping traps with a jaw spread in excess of 7½ inches is prohibited except when such traps are at least half submerged by water.
  • It is unlawful to set on land any steel foothold trap with teeth set upon the jaws or with a maximum inside jaw spread exceeding 6½ inches measured perpen­dicular to the hinges.
  • It is unlawful to set above the ground any body gripping trap with a jaw spread in excess of 5 inches when using any bait, lure or scent. However, baited body-gripping traps with a jaw spread greater than 5 inches and up to 7½ inches may be used within an enclosure with openings no greater than 60 square inches and the trap trigger recessed at least 12 inches from all openings (see diagram). Traps must be staked to prevent enclosures from turning over and may only be used on private lands with written permission of the landowner.
  • It is unlawful to intentionally set foothold traps, body-gripping traps, or snares within 50 feet of an animal carcass or animal parts, unless the carcass or parts are completely covered at the time the trap is set or visited. For the purposes of this requirement, completely covered is defined as not being visible from above. A carcass is defined as the body, portions of the body, meat, organs, or viscera of any animal, including fish. Feathers (including those with attached skin or entire bird wings), hair (with or without skin or hide), and bones that include no attached meat, organs, or viscera, are excluded from this definition.
  • No deadfall traps may be used. Snares set on land must have loops 38 inches or less in circumference (12 inches or less in diameter) with the bottom of the snare loop no more than 12 inches above ground level. Snares with the top of the snare loop set higher than 12 inches above ground level must include a single-piece lock that is not power-assisted, a cable stop that prevents the snare loop from closing smaller than 2½ inches in diameter, and a break-away device that has been tested to break or disassemble at no more than 285 pounds pull (see diagrams and text box below). Locks with moving parts (i.e., cam locks, Amberg wedge locks, and similar locks) and dispatch or compression springs may not be used on snares set with the top of the snare loop higher than 12 inches above ground level. Land snares may only be used with written permission of the landowner.
  • It shall be lawful to kill wild animals legally captured in live traps using any humane method of dispatch not specifically prohibited by law.
  • It is unlawful to willfully molest, damage, or remove any trap, or remove any lawfully caught bird or animal from a trap, or in any way disturb traps or snares legally set by another person.
  • It is unlawful to shoot a rifle or pistol at wild birds or animals on or over public inland waters; however, a licensed trapper may shoot a .22 caliber rimfire rifle or pistol on or over public inland waters for the purpose of dispatching a trapped animal.
Virginia Furbearer Trapping Laws & Regulations

Enhanced Guidelines for Elevated Snare Traps in Virginia


Key Regulations for Elevated Snare Traps

Virginia's trapping regulations impose specific requirements for snares set with the top loop higher than 12 inches above ground level. These rules aim to safeguard non-target species, particularly domestic animals, which might inadvertently get caught in these traps. Virginia Furbearer Trapping Laws & Regulations

Lock Requirements for Elevated Snares

  • Elevated snares must feature a one-piece lock system without moving parts and cannot be power-assisted.
  • Acceptable lock types include washer locks, penny locks, micro locks, and relax-a-locks.
  • Prohibited locks comprise two-piece mechanisms like cam locks and wedge locks.

Virginia Furbearer Trapping Laws & Regulations

Snare Loop and Breakaway Device Specifications

  • Snares must have a cable stop, ensuring the loop does not close smaller than 2½ inches in diameter.
  • A mandatory breakaway device should be incorporated, designed to disengage at a force of 285 pounds pull or less.
  • Various breakaway devices are available, including J-hooks, S-hooks, and ferrules that detach or tear away under specified force.

Ethical Considerations and Best Practices

  • Trappers are urged to avoid setting snares in locations where they might entangle with fences, brush, or other obstacles, reducing the risk of unintended captures, especially domestic dogs.
  • It's illegal to set snares intending to capture domestic animals. This includes using snares as a deterrent to keep domestic animals off properties.

Legal and Moral Obligations

  • Trappers bear both legal and ethical responsibilities in using snares. Compliance with regulations is essential, but so is the ethical use of equipment.
  • The future of snare usage in Virginia is closely linked to trappers' responsible actions and adherence to set guidelines.

Additional Resources

  • For comprehensive details on snares and their proper usage, trappers can refer to specialized guides and manuals. An example is the "Modern Snares" guide available at
Wild Advisor Pro


The legal advice provided on Wild Advisor Pro is intended as a summary of the hunting, camping, hiking, and fishing laws and regulations and does not constitute legal language or professional advice. We make every effort to ensure the information is accurate and up to date, but it should not be relied upon as legal authority. For the most current and comprehensive explanation of the laws and regulations, please consult the official government websites or a qualified legal professional. Wild Advisor Pro is not responsible for any misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the information presented and shall not be held liable for any losses, damages, or legal disputes arising from the use of this summary information. Always check with the appropriate governmental authorities for the latest information regarding outdoor regulations and compliance.