Trapping Regulations

General Provisions

  • The homes, nests or dens of furbearers must not be molested or destroyed.
  • No person shall accept payment for furbearers taken by another.
  • Wildlife held in traps, snares, or cable restraint devices may be killed or removed only by the user.
  • Bobcats and otters or their pelts must be delivered to an agent of the Conservation Department for registration or tagging before selling, transferring, tanning or mounting by April 10. Tagged bobcats, otters or their pelts may be possessed by the taker throughout the year and may be sold only to licensed taxidermists, tanners or fur dealers. It is illegal to purchase or sell untagged bobcats, otters or their pelts. Tagging tip: To make it easier to tag a pelt without damaging it, put a pencil or stick through the upper lip and eye socket before freezing the skin. The tag can be easily placed in those holes when the pelt is registered.
  • Restrictions on possession do not apply to tanned pelts, mounted specimens or manufactured products.
  • Skinned carcasses of legally taken furbearers may be sold throughout the year.

Special-Use Permit Required to Trap on Conservation Areas

Trapping with dog-proof style and other traps is allowed on many conservation areas. A Special Use Permit is required and these must be applied for at least 30 days before trapping begins. Contact the area manager at the regional office to see what opportunities are available in your area.


  • May be placed and set for furbearers at 12:01 a.m. on Nov. 15 and must be removed by midnight of the last day of trapping season
  • Must have smooth or rubber jaws only, and may include foot-hold, Conibear, or other killing-type, foot-enclosing-type, cage-type, colony traps with openings no greater than 6 inches in height and 6 inches wide, snares set underwater only, and cable restraint devices.
  • Must be plainly labeled on durable material with the user’s full name and address or Conservation Number.
  • Wildlife must be removed or released from traps daily, except for colony and killing-type traps, which must be checked every 48 hours.
  • May not be set in paths made or used by people or domestic animals. Killing-type traps may not be set along public roadways, except underwater in permanent waters. Within communities having 10,000 or more inhabitants, only cage-type or foot-enclosing-type traps may be set within 150 feet of any residence or occupied building
  • May be used in conjunction with electronic calls

Conibear or Killing-type traps must comply with the following:

  • With a jaw spread greater than 5 inches, may be set underwater, but not in any dry land set
  • With a jaw spread not greater than 8 inches, may be set 6 feet or more above ground level in buildings

Snares must comply with the following:

  • Be set underwater
  • Have a loop 15 inches or less in diameter when set
  • Have a stop device that prevents the snare from closing to less than 2 1/2 inches in diameter
  • Be made with cable that is between 5/64 inch and 1/8 inch in diameter
  • Have a mechanical lock and anchor swivel

Cable Restraint Regulations

When used correctly, cable restraint devices hold animals alive and allow trappers to release non-target animals unharmed. The devices can be used to take furbearers from November 15 through January 31. 

Cable restraint devices MUST:

  • Be made of stranded steel cable, not greater than 5 feet long (not including extension, with a diameter of not less than 5/64 inch and equipped with a commercially manufactured breakaway rated at 350 pounds or less, a relaxing-type lock, a stop device that prevents it from closing to less than 2 1/2 inches in diameter, and an anchor swivel. Note: Compression-type chokes and other mechanically powered springs are prohibited.
  • Have a loop size of 12 inches diameter or smaller when set
  • Have the bottom of the cable loop set at least 6 inches or greater above the ground
  • Be anchored solidly or staked in a location not allowing entanglement
  • Be checked daily.

Cable restraint devices must NOT be:

  • Capable of extending to within 12 inches of a fence
  • Set using a drag
  • Set with a kill-pole
  • Used within 150 feet of any dwelling or driveway leading to a dwelling.

Note: Trappers may not possess live coyotes, red fox, and gray fox after March 15.

Hunter Ethics

All hunters should treat the outdoors with respect and follow ethical hunting practices. These include:

  • If you hunt on private land, be sure to obtain permission from the landowner and respect his or her property as if it were your own. Scout the area you plan to hunt so you know where the boundaries, houses, roads, fences and livestock are located on the property.
  • If you do not kill your game instantly, make every effort to find the wounded animal. Permission is required to enter private land.
  • Clean and care for your game properly.
  • Pick up all litter, including spent ammunition. Leaving an area better than the way you found it is a sign of thanks for the privilege of hunting.
  • Report observed violations of the law to a conservation agent or local sheriff as soon as possible.
  • If you are involved in a firearms-related accident, the law requires that you identify yourself and render assistance; failure to do so is a Class A misdemeanor.
  • Develop your skills and knowledge, and share them with others.
  • Know and obey all wildlife laws.
  • Know and follow the rules of gun safety.
  • Respect the rights of hunters, non-hunters and landowners.
  • Make every effort to retrieve and use all game.
  • Respect the land and all wildlife.
  • Be sensitive to others when displaying harvested game.
  • Remember, hunting is not a competitive sport.

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Hunting with Dogs

Hunters may use dogs to take and retrieve game, but there are restrictions by species, times, and locations.

When Dogs are Illegal to Use

Dogs are prohibited when hunting deer and turkey.

Dogs can not be used to harvest muskrat, mink, river otter, and beaver. 

Dogs are prohibited when hunting furbearers (badger, bobcat, coyote, gray fox, opossum, raccoon, and striped skunk) during daylight hours from Nov.1 through the close of the November portion of the firearms deer season and in counties that have an antlerless portion of the deer season.

Dogs are prohibited when hunting squirrels and rabbits during daylight hours of the November portion of the firearms deer season in the following counties:

  • Butler
  • Carter
  • Dent
  • Iron
  • Madison
  • Oregon
  • Reynolds
  • Ripley
  • Shannon
  • Wayne

Dogs must wear ID

While hunting, all dogs, except for those used by waterfowl and game bird hunters, must wear a collar with the owner’s full name and address, Conservation Number or complete telephone number.

Training Dogs

During training, dogs may chase but not take wildlife that can be hunted with dogs. You will need a hunting permit appropriate for the wildlife or exception when training dogs that are chasing wildlife.

Only a pistol with blank ammunition may be used during daylight hours to train dogs during closed seasons.

Additional Otter and Muskrat Regulations

Otter pelts must be registered or tagged by a conservation agent before selling, transferring, tanning or mounting by April 10.

Tagged otter pelts may be possessed by the taker throughout the year and may be sold only to licensed taxidermists, tanners, or fur dealers.

It is illegal to purchase or sell untagged otters or their pelts.

Conservation Area Regulations

Before you go hunting, check Places to Go for any special regulations on areas. Search for a specific area, or all areas with a specific activity associated with it. Once on an area's page, you will find a list of area regulations and seasons at the bottom of the page.

Search Places to Go

Check the Code

This is NOT a legal document. Regulations are subject to revision during the current year.
Refer to the Wildlife Code.

Cover of Missouri Hunting and Trapping Regulations