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  • Trapping Permits Available

    Availability of Trapping Permits for the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge

    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today that Refuge special use permits and trap tags for the 2016-2017 furbearer trapping season on the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge will be issued beginning October 3, 2016 at the following locations:

    Savanna District, 7071 Riverview Rd, Thomson, IL

    Phone: 815-273-2732

    Monday – Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

    Winona District, 51 East 4th Street, Room 203, Winona, MN

    Phone 507-454-7351

    Monday – Friday, 7:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

    La Crosse District, N5727 County Road Z, Onalaska, WI

    Phone 608-779-2399

    Monday – Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 3:30 p.m., Saturday 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

    McGregor District, 470 Cliffhaven Road, Prairie du Chien, WI

    Phone 608-326-0515

    Monday – Friday, 7:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

    *If traveling from a long distance please call and confirm that staff will be in the office to issue tags.

    Refuge regulations require that trappers possess a Refuge permit and trap tags in addition to a state license to be eligible to trap furbearers on the Refuge. Trap tags must be obtained in person and trappers must have a valid 2016-2017 state trapping license in their possession when obtaining trap tags.

    Wisconsin residents must provide printed proof of trapping privileges at time of application.  Refuge employees do not have access the WIDNR electronic system to verify privileges via conservation card or driver's license.  

    Each trapper will receive 40 trap tags with their permit. All traps placed on the Refuge must have a tag attached.

    Refuge trapping permits are issued for a fee of $30.00 for trappers 18 years or older and $5.00 for trappers under age 18. Only cash and checks can be accepted. Trappers who did not return their fur catch report for the 2015-2016 seasons will not be issued a trapping permit for this year.
  • Pool Location Map

  • Fur Catch Report

    In addition to a valid state trapping license you will need a refuge special use permit and trap tags. Fur catch reports are due by April 15 every year. The submission of Fur Catch Reports is mandatory, even if you do not trap on the Refuge. Harvest data from reports is used for management purposes and shared with the respective State agencies. Trappers who fail to meet the April 15 deadline may not be eligible to receive trap tags for the next trapping season. In the middle of October of each year, Trap Tags are available at District Offices.

  • Youth Trapping Areas

    McGregor District’s Youth Trapping Areas 

    The purposes of these special areas are to provide youth an opportunity to learn and appreciate the art of trapping without direct competition from experienced trappers. 
    Youth Trapping Area regulations apply only to those specially designated areas for the first 14 days of the Refuge muskrat trapping season. After that date these areas are available to all trappers beginning at 9:00 a.m. on the day following the close of the youth season. 

    Additional Youth Trapping Area regulations include: 
    1. Youth trappers must be State licensed and under the age 18 at the time of issuance of Trapping Special Use Permit. 
    2. Youth trappers must obtain a Refuge Trapping Special Use Permit before trapping on the Refuge. 
    3. All applicable State and Federal trapping regulations will apply. 
    4. Youth trappers may be accompanied by an adult (over 18 years of age) but the following restrictions apply. 
    - All traps entering or within the Special Youth Trapping Area will be carried or transported by the youth trapper only. 
    - All animals taken within the Special Youth Trapping Area will be handled and transported by the youth trapper only. 
    - Accompanying adults may assist in the mechanical setting or arming of the trap, but may not place the actual set. 
    - Accompanying adults are not required to obtain a Trapping Special Use Permit.

    McGregor Lake, Pool 10 
    John Deer Marsh, Pool 11
    Bagley Bottoms, Pool 10 


  • Special Trapping Units

  • Special Conditions of Trapping Permit

    • Pursuant to Code of Federal Regulations, Title 50, Chapter 1, Subchapter C, Part 31, Subpart B, Section 31.16, the following conditions are prescribed by the Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for the trapping of furbearers on the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge (Refuge) situated in the States of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Illinois.

      1. State Laws – Permittee must comply with all State and local game laws and regulations, in addition to all federal regulations and Refuge permit conditions. In cases where any of these regulations differ, the most restrictive regulations shall apply.

      2. Trapping Permits – Any person exercising the privilege of trapping furbearing animals on the Refuge shall possess a valid trapping license issued by the State where trapping is performed and a valid special use permit for trapping issued by the Refuge. Permittee shall carry both the State trapping license and Refuge special use permit on their person at all times while trapping, and upon request, shall exhibit them to any federal, state, or local law enforcement officer.

      3. Trap Tags and Fees; Limitations – In addition to tags required by State regulations, each permittee authorized to trap furbearing animals on the Refuge shall obtain from the Refuge Manager, or an authorized representative, appropriate Refuge tags for all traps used. A tag for the current trap year shall be securely attached to each trap in a manner that will allow convenient examination. Traps displaying current tags assigned to multiple permittees may be tended by any of the permitted tag owners. The Service is required to collect a fee which will be used to recover the cost of administering the issuance of permits.

      4. Approved Traps; Trap Inspection and Removal; Plant Life – Furbearers may be taken on the Refuge using traps allowed under state law, except no snares or multiple-catch (colony type) traps are allowed. Permittee shall tend each trap/set on the Refuge at least once every calendar day, except for beaver sets which must be tended at least once every two calendar days. Traps shall only be tended between one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset, or during hours set by state law if more restrictive. Permittee shall not cut any vegetation on the Refuge, except willow for use as trap stakes or drags.

      5. Bag Limit – The bag limit for each furbearer shall be that limit prescribed by applicable State law or Refuge regulation, whichever is more restrictive. All animals taken on the Refuge shall be included as a part of any state bag limit. Otter trapping is allowed in States where open but with a maximum harvest of 1 otter/Refuge permit in accordance with State seasons and licensing.

      6. Fur Catch Report – It is mandatory that all permittees submit a Fur Catch Report by April 15, following the Refuge trapping season. Failure to accurately complete and return the report by the deadline shall be sufficient cause for refusal of future permits.

      7. Closed Areas/No Hunting Zones – All areas of the Refuge which are closed to hunting of migratory birds shall be closed to trapping during the duck hunting season for that State. Trapping in areas posted “Area Closed”, “No Hunting Zone” and “No Entry/Sanctuary” will be allowed beginning at 9:00 a.m. on the day following the close of the State duck hunting season, except as otherwise specified on this permit or prescribed by the Refuge Manager.

      8. Prohibited Methods and Acts

      It Is Unlawful To:

      *Trap before, 9:00 a.m. on, the opening day of the Refuge muskrat trapping season.
      *Trap in Youth Trapping Areas the first 14 days of the Refuge muskrat trapping season, unless permitted to do so.
      *Trap after March 15 until the start of the Refuge muskrat trapping season.
      * Mark or stake traps sites or animal runs or paths, or chop holes in the ice for trap sets in advance of the applicable season.
      * Place traps, stakes, or other equipment in more than one location before 9:00 a.m. on the opening day of any Refuge trapping season.
      *Place, without a tagged trap attached, any stake, pole, rod, or stick capable of holding or anchoring any kind of animal trap.
      * Set or tend more traps than the number authorized on the permit.
      *Set or trap within 3 feet of the waterline of any muskrat house or feeding house.
      * Set a trap closer to a beaver house or dam than permitted by state law, and in no case shall a trap be set closer than 6 feet of where the lodge or dam meets the water. The 6-foot setback restriction does not apply to bank dens that do not have an associated lodge structure/cache. Dog-proof traps and #110 sized body-grip traps are allowed on beaver dams and lodges unless prohibited by state law.
      *Set a trap within 30 feet of an otter den.
      *Disturb or molest any muskrat house, mink or otter den, or beaver house or dam. 
      *Dispose of carcasses or animal parts on the Refuge.
      *Use exposed flesh or carcass baits, including fish.
      *Use snowmobiles or wheeled or tracked all-terrain vehicles on, over, or across refuge lands at any time, including while trapping. These vehicles are allowed only on the ice over navigable waters, accessed from boat landings, but prohibited in Electric Motor Areas.
      *Tend, disturb, or molest another person’s traps, fur catch, or trapline. 
      (It is unlawful to set or tend any trap/set on the Refuge that does not have your current refuge trap tag attached. Any trap/set which is tended by multiple persons must display a current tag assigned to EACH permittee checking the trap. One exception is that someone may ASSIST with checking tagged traps, provided that the permittee is physically present at the trap site).

      9. Possession of Firearms – Permittees are allowed to dispatch animals caught in traps with a firearm in accordance with State law, except in No Hunting/Trapping Zones.

      10. Disposition of Unauthorized Animals – Birds and mammals other than those authorized to be trapped under permit and found alive in the traps of the permittee shall be immediately liberated. Such birds and mammals found dead or mortally injured in traps shall be immediately disposed of in accordance with State law. 
      If any threatened or endangered species are caught, a Refuge employee or State warden must be notified immediately. If furbearers are caught out of season or over the Refuge bag limit (1 otter), a Federal Wildlife Officer must be notified prior to the removal of the furbearer or tampering with the set.

      11. Penalties – Failure of a permittee to comply with any of the Refuge trapping permit conditions or violation of any of the regulations issued under the authority of the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge Act of June 7, 1924 or any federal or State law or regulation related to trapping on the Upper Mississippi River NW&FR may be sufficient cause for one or more of the following actions:
      a. Revocation of existing permits.
      b. Refusal of future trapping special use permits.
      c. Refusal of other privileges requiring a permit.

      All traps and equipment used as instruments of any violation, and all animals or furs illegally taken, shall be subject to immediate seizure, and subsequent forfeiture.

      12. Refuge Contact Numbers
      Winona District Office: (507) 454-7351
      La Crosse District Office: (608) 779-2399
      McGregor District Office: (608)326-0515
      Savanna District Office: (815) 273-2732



  • Furbearer Plan

    Furbearer Plan  (8 MG PDF)

Last Updated: Sep 30, 2016
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