Trapping is a wildlife management tool used in the conservation and management of wildlife populations. Trapping occurs on some national wildlife refuges in accordance with the conservation mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System ( Where trapping does occur, some individual refuges may prohibit trapping by the public and conduct trapping for management actions only. 

State and federal wildlife agencies, like the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, use trapping to protect endangered species and migratory birds, prevent and address property damage, control invasive species, and manage common and abundant species.  Trapping is also used to restore species of wildlife and gather scientific information through wildlife research. Trapping activities are carefully managed to ensure that safe, effective practices are used and wildlife populations are sustainable. 

Trapping on refuges, where permitted, follows state regulations; stricter rules may also apply.  Trappers must have state licenses.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also views trapping as a legitimate recreational and economic activity when there are harvestable surpluses of fur-bearing mammals. Outside of Alaska, refuges that permit trapping as a recreational use may require trappers to obtain a refuge special use permit. Refuge special use permits and contracts often impose rules that are stricter than state regulations. These rules ensure that trapping is compatible with refuge purposes and is in the public interest. Special use permits are not required in waterfowl production areas.

Trapping on waterfowl production areas is open each year, subject to state laws and regulations. Outside of Alaska, the opening of national wildlife refuges to trapping is done in accordance with the Refuge Recreation Act (as amended in 1973), the Refuge Administration Act (as amended in 1997) and the National Environmental Policy Act. In Alaska, the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act allows for subsistence uses including trapping. (See legislative mandates.)

Signs are posted on refuges where trapping occurs. Contact the refuge manager or visit the station's website for specific regulations.



State(s) Nation Wildlife Refuge Unit Name
IA Port Louisa NWR
IA Union Slough NWR
IL Crab Orchard NWR
IL Cypress Creek NWR
IL, MO Middle Miss River NWR
IL, MO Two Rivers NWR
IN Big Oaks NWR
MI Michigan WMD
MI Seney NWR
MI Shiawassee NWR
MN Agassiz NWR
MN Big Stone NWR
MN Big Stone WMD
MN Detroit Lakes WMD
MN Fergus Falls WMD
MN Glacial Ridge NWR
MN Litchfield WMD
MN Minnesota Valley NWR
MN Minnesota Valley WMD
MN Morris WMD
MN Northern Tallgrass Prairie NWR
MN Rice Lake NWR
MN Rydell NWR
MN Sherburne NWR
MN Tamarac NWR
MN Windom WMD
MN, IA WI, IL Upper Mississippi River NWR & Fish Refuge
MO Big Muddy NWR
MO Clarence Cannon NWR
MO Great River NWR
MO Loess Bluffs NWR
MO Mingo NWR
MO Swan Lake NWR
OH Cedar Point NWR
OH Ottawa NWR
WI Horicon NWR
WI Leopold WMD
WI Necedah NWR
WI St. Croix WMD
WI Trempealeau NWR


States Nation Wildlife Refuge Unit Name
KS Marais des Cygnes NWR
MT Bowdoin NWR
MT Medicine Lake NWR
MT Lee Metcalf NWR
ND Audubon NWR
ND Lake Ilo NWR
ND Long Lake NWR
ND Upper Souris NWR
ND J. Clark Salyer NWR
ND Arrowwood NWR
ND Chase Lake NWR
ND Des Lacs NWR
NE Cresent Lake NWR
NE Valentine NWR
SD Lacreek NWR
SD Lake Andes NWR
UT Bear River NWR
SD Waubay NWR
WY Seedskadee NWR


State(s) Nation Wildlife Refuge Unit Name
DE Bombay Hook NWR
DE Prime Hook NWR
MA Monomoy NWR
MA Parker River NWR
MD Blackwater NWR
MD Patuxent Research Refuge 
ME Aroostook NWR
ME Cross Island NWR
ME Franklin Island NWR
ME Moosehorn NWR
ME Petit Manan NWR
ME Pond Island NWR
ME Rachel Carson NWR
ME Seal Island NWR
ME Sunkhaze Meadows NWR
NH GreatBay NWR
NH Silvio O. Conte NWR - Pondicherry Div.
NJ Cape May NWR
NJ Edwin B. Forsyth NWR
NJ,NY Wallkill NWR
NY Amagansett NWR
NY Elizabeth A. Morton NWR
NY Iroquois NWR
NY Montezuma NWR
VA Back Bay NWR
VA Eastern Shore of VA NWR
VA Elizabeth Hartwell Mason Neck NWR
VA Featherstone NWR
VA Fisherman Island NWR
VA Occoquan Bay NWR (Formerlly Marumsco NWR)
VA Rappahannock River Valley NWR
VA, MD Chincoteague NWR
VT Missisquoi NWR
VT Silvio O. Conte NWR - Nulhegan Basin Div. 
WV Canaan Valley NWR
WV Ohio River Islands NWR


State(s) Nation Wildlife Refuge Unit Name
HI Hakalau Forest NWR
OR Lewis and Clark NWR
OR, NV Sheldon NWR
WA Ridgefield NWR
WA Steigerwald Lake NWR
WA, OR Julia Butler Hansen Refuge

Pacific Southwest

State(s) Nation Wildlife Refuge Unit Name
CA Butte Sink WMA
CA Colusa NWR
CA Delevan NWR
CA Don Edwards San Francisco Bay NWR
CA Sacramento NWR
CA Salinas NWR
CA San Diego Bay NWR
CA Seal Beach NWR
CA Sutter NWR
CA Tijuana Slough NWR


State(s) Nation Wildlife Refuge Unit Name
AL Eufaula NWR
AL, GA Wheeler NWR
AR Bald Knob NWR
AR Big Lake NWR
AR Cache River NWR
AR Felsenthal NWR
AR Overflow NWR
AR Pond Creek NWR
AR Wapanocca NWR
AR White River NWR
FL Archie Carr NWR
FL Chassahowitzka NWR
FL Egmont Key NWR
FL Hobe Sound NWR
FL Pelican Island NWR
FL Pinellas NWR
FL St. Mark's NWR
FL St. Vincent NWR
GA Bond Swamp NWR
GA Piedmont NWR
KY Clarks River NWR
LA Bayou Cocodrie NWR
LA Bayou Sauvage NWR
LA Big Branch NWR
LA  Black Bayou Lake NWR
LA D'Arbonne NWR
LA Delta River NWR
LA Grand Cote NWR
LA Mandalay NWR
LA Red River NWR
LA Tensas River NWR
LA Upper Ouachita NWR
MS Cat Island NWR
MS Coldwater River NWR
MS Dahomey NWR
MS Hillside NWR
MS Holt Collier NWR
MS Mathews Brake NWR
MS Mississippi Sandhill Crane NWR
MS Morgan Brake NWR
MS Panther Swamp NWR
MS St. Catherine Creek NWR
MS Tallahatchie NWR
MS Theodore Roosevelt NWR
MS Yazoo NWR
NC Alligator River NWR
NC Mackay NWR
NC  Pea Island NWR
NC Pocosin Lakes NWR
SC Cape Romain NWR
SC Carolina Sandhills NWR
SC Ernest F. Hollings ACE Basin NWR
SC Waccamaw NWR
TN Cross Creeks NWR
TN Tennessee NWR


State(s) Nation Wildlife Refuge Unit Name
NM Bosque del Apache NWR
OK Deep Fork NWR
OK Little River NWR
TX Aransas/Matagorda Is. NWR Complex
TX Attwater Prairie Chicken NWR
TX Balcones Canyonlands NWR
TX Caddo Lake NWR