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Information iconGreat Bay National Wildlife Refuge in New Hampshire. (Photo: Matt Poole/USFWS)

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decides whether to use trapping as a wildlife management tool on a station-by-station basis in accordance with the conservation mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System.

State and federal wildlife agencies, including the Fish and Wildlife Service, use trapping as a cost-effective method (compared to hunting or chemical control) to manage wildlife. Trapping helps protect endangered species and migratory birds, restore species in decline, prevent and reduce property damage, and control destructive invasive species.

The Fish and Wildlife Service also views trapping as a legitimate recreational and economic activity when there are harvestable surpluses of fur-bearing mammals. Some refuges may prohibit trapping by the public even though trapping for management purposes is occurring. All trapping must be done in accordance with state laws, regulations and licensing requirements.

Small Part of Larger Concept

Trapping is a small facet of the Department of Interior’s overall vision to make public lands more available to all Americans. Specifically, three recent Secretary’s Orders direct all Department of the Interior bureaus, including the Fish and Wildlife Service, to enhance wildlife management and public access as follows.

A Carefully Managed Activity

The Fish and Wildlife Service carefully manages trapping activities on national wildlife refuges to ensure that safe, effective practices are used and to ensure the sustainability of wildlife populations. Permitted trapping on refuges typically mirrors state regulations, and trappers who access refuge lands for recreation must possess state licenses and follow state regulations as well as permit stipulations.  

The decisions to allow trapping for these purposes are deliberate and may be subject to permitting processes and other authorities. For example, 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 activities are compatible with refuge purposes and in line with the public interest. Special use permits are not required in waterfowl production areas within wetland management districts.

Trapping in waterfowl production areas is open each year, subject to state laws and regulations. Outside of Alaska, the Fish and Wildlife Service opens national wildlife refuges to recreational trapping 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. Within Alaska, the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act allows for subsistence uses, including trapping. For more information, please see Legislative Mandates and Authorities.

The Fish and Wildlife Service is committed to informing the public about acceptable trapping practices.

Because states regulate trapping, requirements vary across the nation. To learn more about states’ regulations, states’ research support and states’ recommended best practices, see the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA) “Furbearer Management and Best Management Practices for Trapping” web page.

Where Trapping Occurs

Trapping occurs on the following Fish and Wildlife Service lands, in accordance with state laws, state regulations, state licensing requirements and the Refuge System conservation mission.

By State
Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming, U.S. Minor Outlying Islands                                            

Alabama
Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge
Eufaula National Wildlife Refuge
Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge

Alaska
Koyukuk National Wildlife Refuge

Arizona
Kofa National Wildlife Refuge

Arkansas
Bald Knob National Wildlife Refuge
Big Lake National Wildlife Refuge
Cache River National Wildlife Refuge
Dale Bumpers White River National Wildlife Refuge
Felsenthal National Wildlife Refuge
Overflow National Wildlife Refuge
Pond Creek National Wildlife Refuge
Wapanocca National Wildlife Refuge

California
Butte Sink Wildlife Management Area
Colusa National Wildlife Refuge
Delevan National Wildlife Refuge
Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge
Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge
Salinas National River Wildlife Refuge
San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge
Seal Beach National Wildlife Refuge
Sutter National Wildlife Refuge
Tijuana Slough National Wildlife Refuge

Delaware
Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge
Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge

Florida
Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge
Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge
Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge
Egmont Key National Wildlife Refuge
Florida Keys National Wildlife Refuges Complex
Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge
Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge
Nathaniel P. Reed Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge
Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge
Pinellas National Wildlife Refuge
St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge
St. Vincent National Wildlife Refuge

Georgia
Blackbeard Island National Wildlife Refuge
Bond Swamp National Wildlife Refuge
Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge
Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge
Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge
Savannah National Wildlife Refuge
Wassaw National Wildlife Refuge
Wolf Island National Wildlife Refuge

Hawaii
Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge
Maui National Wildlife Refuge Complex
Oahu National Wildlife Refuge Complex

Illinois
Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge
Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge
Great River National Wildlife Refuge
Middle Mississippi River National Wildlife Refuge
Port Louisa National Wildlife Refuge
Two Rivers National Wildlife Refuge
Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife & Fish Refuge

Indiana
Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge
Patoka River National Wildlife Refuge

Iowa
DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge
Iowa Wetland Management District
Port Louisa National Wildlife Refuge
Union Slough National Wildlife Refuge
Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife & Fish Refuge

Kansas
Marais des Cygnes National Wildlife Refuge

Kentucky
Clarks River National Wildlife Refuge

Louisiana
Atchafalaya National Wildlife Refuge
Bayou Cocodrie National Wildlife Refuge
Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge
Big Branch Marsh National Wildlife Refuge
Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge
Cameron Prairie National Wildlife Refuge
Cat Island National Wildlife Refuge
D'Arbonne National Wildlife Refuge
Delta National Wildlife Refuge
Grand Cote National Wildlife Refuge
Lacassine National Wildlife Refuge
Mandalay National Wildlife Refuge
Red River National Wildlife Refuge
Sabine National Wildlife Refuge
Shell Keys National Wildlife Refuge
Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge
Upper Ouachita National Wildlife Refuge

Maine
Aroostook National Wildlife Refuge
Cross Island National Wildlife Refuge
Franklin Island National Wildlife Refuge
Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge
Petit Manan National Wildlife Refuge
Pond Island National Wildlife Refuge
Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge
Seal Island National Wildlife Refuge
Sunkhaze Meadows National Wildlife Refuge
Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge

Maryland
Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge
Patuxent Research Refuge

Massachusetts
Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge
Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

Michigan
Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge
Michigan Wetland Management District
Seney National Wildlife Refuge
Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge

Minnesota
Agassiz National Wildlife Refuge
Big Stone National Wildlife Refuge
Big Stone Wetland Management District
Detroit Lakes Wetland Management District
Fergus Falls Wetland Management District
Glacial Ridge National Wildlife Refuge
Litchfield Wetland Management District
Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge
Minnesota Valley Wetland Management District
Morris Wetland Management District
Northern Tallgrass Prairie National Wildlife Refuge
Rice Lake National Wildlife Refuge
Rydell National Wildlife Refuge
Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge
Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge
Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife & Fish Refuge
Windom Wetland Management District

Mississippi
Coldwater River National Wildlife Refuge
Dahomey National Wildlife Refuge
Hillside National Wildlife Refuge
Holt Collier National Wildlife Refuge
Mathews Brake National Wildlife Refuge
Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge
Morgan Brake National Wildlife Refuge
Panther Swamp National Wildlife Refuge
St. Catherine Creek National Wildlife Refuge
Tallahatchie National Wildlife Refuge
Theodore Roosevelt National Wildlife Refuge
Yazoo National Wildlife Refuge

Missouri
Big Muddy National Fish & Wildlife Refuge
Clarence Cannon National Wildlife Refuge
Great River National Wildlife Refuge
Loess Bluffs National Wildlife Refuge
Middle Mississippi River National Wildlife Refuge
Mingo National Wildlife Refuge
Swan Lake National Wildlife Refuge
Two Rivers National Wildlife Refuge

Montana
Bowdoin National Wildlife Refuge
Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge
Medicine Lake National Wildlife Refuge

Nebraska
Crescent Lake National Wildlife Refuge
DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge
Valentine National Wildlife Refuge

New Hampshire
Great Bay National Wildlife Refuge
Silvio O. Conte National Wildlife Refuge - Pondicherry Division
Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge

New Jersey
Cape May National Wildlife Refuge
Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge
Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge

New Mexico
Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge

New York
Amagansett National Wildlife Refuge
Elizabeth A. Morton National Wildlife Refuge
Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge
Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge
Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge

Nevada
Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge

North Carolina
Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge
Currituck National Wildlife Refuge
Mackay Island National Wildlife Refuge
Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge
Pee Dee National Wildlife Refuge
Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge

North Dakota
Arrowwood National Wildlife Refuge
Audubon National Wildlife Refuge
Chase Lake National Wildlife Refuge
Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge
J. Clark Salyer National Wildlife Refuge
Lake Ilo National Wildlife Refuge
Long Lake National Wildlife Refuge
Upper Souris National Wildlife Refuge

Ohio
Cedar Point National Wildlife Refuge
Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge

Oklahoma
Deep Fork National Wildlife Refuge
Little River National Wildlife Refuge

Oregon
Julia Butler Hansen Refuge for the Columbian White-Tailed Deer
Lewis and Clark National Wildlife Refuge
Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge
Upper Klamath National Wildlife Refuge

Pennsylvania
Erie National Wildlife Refuge

South Carolina
Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge
Carolina Sandhills National Wildlife Refuge
Ernest F. Hollings ACE Basin National Wildlife Refuge
Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge
Savannah National Wildlife Refuge
Tybee National Wildlife Refuge
Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge

South Dakota
Lake Andes National Wildlife Refuge
Waubay National Wildlife Refuge

Tennessee
Chickasaw National Wildlife Refuge
Cross Creeks National Wildlife Refuge
Hatchie National Wildlife Refuge
Lake Isom National Wildlife Refuge
Lower Hatchie National Wildlife Refuge
Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge

Texas
Aransas National Wildlife Refuge
Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge
Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge
Caddo Lake National Wildlife Refuge
Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge

Utah
Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge

Vermont
Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge
Silvio O. Conte National Wildlife Refuge - Nulhegan Basin Division

Virginia
Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge
Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge
Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge
Elizabeth Hartwell Mason Neck National Wildlife Refuge
Featherstone National Wildlife Refuge
Fisherman Island National Wildlife Refuge
Mackay Island National Wildlife Refuge
Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge
Rappahannock River Valley National Wildlife Refuge

Washington
Columbia National Wildlife Refuge
Conboy Lake National Wildlife Refuge
Lewis and Clark National Wildlife Refuge
Hanford Reach National Monument/Saddle Mountain National Wildlife Refuge
Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge
Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge
Toppenish National Wildlife Refuge
Willapa National Wildlife Refuge

West Virginia
Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge
Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge

Wisconsin
Horicon National Wildlife Refuge
Leopold Wetland Management District
Necedah National Wildlife Refuge
St. Croix Wetland Management District
Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge
Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife & Fish Refuge
Whittlesey Creek National Wildlife Refuge

Wyoming
Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge

U.S. Minor Outlying Islands
Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge

Information iconPanther Swamp National Wildlife Refuge in Mississippi. (Photo: Bill O’Brian/USFWS)