Trapping Regulations

Barbed Hooks:
Barbed hooks or other similarly sharpened instruments may not be used to take furbearing animals.

Bobcat Carcasses:
Any person harvesting a bobcat must submit the entire carcass, along with the detached pelt, to GFP personnel within five days of capture. Once the season has closed, an individual has 24 hours to notify a Conservation Officer or Wildlife Damage Specialist of any untagged bobcats harvested during the season. The pelt will be inspected, tagged and registered. The lower jaw will be removed from the carcass. The tagged pelt will be returned. The carcass may be returned upon request.

Body Grip Traps: (commonly known as conibears)

  • Body grip traps with a jaw spread greater than eight inches are permitted only as water sets. All of the bottom surface of these traps must remain completely below the water's edge at all times.
  • On all public lands and public road rights-of-way statewide, no person may set or operate a body grip trap when used in conjunction with any bait, lure, or scent with a jaw spread greater than six and three-quarter inches (i.e. larger than a 160 conibear) unless:
    (a) The trap is recessed in a plastic, wood, or metal cubby a minimum of seven inches from the front edge of the cubby to the trigger of the trap; or
    (b) The trap is set below the water's edge of a stream, river, or other body of water.
    Note: a single overhang on the top of the cubby does not meet this recess requirement.

Catches Out of Season:
A trapper must immediately release any live wild animal found in a trap or snare at a time when the established season is closed. Any trapper who finds a dead wild animal in a trap or snare out of season must leave the animal undisturbed in the trap or snare and contact a GFP representative within 12 hours.

Closed Areas:
Federal refuges, national monuments, state game refuges, Custer State Park, Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in Union County, and Beaver Creek Nature Area in Minnehaha County, or privately owned areas within them are closed to hunting and trapping of furbearers.

Colony Traps:
The size of colony traps for muskrats may not exceed 36 inches in overall length. If using a round colony trap, the diameter cannot exceed 12 inches. If using a box colony trap, the height may not exceed 12 inches nor may the width exceed 12 inches.

Flagging:
No person may flag, mark or attempt to claim a muskrat house on public lands or waters before sunrise on opening day of the trapping season. After the season is open, marking of muskrat houses is legal if the house contains an operational trap set.

Furbearer possession, Live:
Possession of live furbearers is prohibited except that no more than one live furbearer (either a raccoon, jackrabbit, skunk, red or gray fox, or coyote) per household may be kept as a pet. In addition, the Animal Industry Board requires a permit to keep mammals including certain furbearers. For details, contact the Animal Industry Board at 605.773.3321. No pet furbearer may be physically altered except skunks may be de-scented. Sale or purchase of a pet wild furbearer is prohibited.

Furbearers, Release or Killing:
Except when kept as a pet as provided above, a furbearer taken from the wild must either be released or immediately and humanely killed.

Furs, Raw:
Raw furs may be kept after the close of each respective season if the furs are checked with a GFP Conservation Officer within 10 days.

Landowners:
A resident of South Dakota may catch, trap or kill furbearing animals upon land owned or leased by him without obtaining a license to do so, during any period when hunting, catching, taking, trapping or killing such animals is permitted.

Permission Required:

  • No person may attach a trap, including snares, to any part of a fence along a public road right of way adjacent to private land without permission from the adjoining landowner
  • No person, except the adjoining landowner or a person receiving written permission from the adjoining landowner, may trap on public road right of ways within 660 feet of a home, church or schoolhouse
  • Snares may not be set within fenced pastures, cropland, feedlots or fenced areas containing domestic livestock without permission of the landowner or the operator
  • A person must have a permit issued by the park manager to trap in a state park or recreation area. The free permits are valid Nov. 1-Mar. 31
  • Permission is required from the landowner for trapping on private land leased for public hunting in the Walk-In Area program and the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP)

Pole Traps:
No person may set or allow to be set any trap, snare or similar device on a pole or post in a manner that a raptor may be captured, injured or killed.

Protected Animals:
No person may take pine marten, black-footed ferret, swift fox, fisher, river otter, wolf, or black bear. If any of these protected species are accidentally caught the animal must be released alive. If the animal is found dead, it must be left undisturbed in the snare or trap and a GFP representative contacted within 12 hours. An instructional brochure on avoiding trapping river otters is available from GFP offices. Information is also available at the GFP website, www.gfp.sd.gov/hunting/docs/otter-avoidance.pdf

Restrictions:
Except in Haakon, Jackson, Jones, Lyman and Stanley counties where these laws do not apply for muskrats, no person may:

  • Hunt mink or muskrats with dogs
  • Dig, disturb or molest a mink den or beaver house to capture mink or beaver, or use poison, gas or smoke to kill or capture these animals
  • Spear muskrat
  • Destroy a muskrat house, except that in open season a house may be opened in a manner that will not destroy or damage it as a place of habitation

Snares:
Snares must have a mechanical lock, swivel device on the anchor end, and stop device to prohibit the restraint loop from closing to a diameter less than 2-1/2 inches. Snares must be attached by the swivel directly to the anchoring device or by chain or cable between the swivel and the anchoring device. The swivel may not be more than four inches long, and must operate freely when set. Attaching snares to a drag is prohibited. Exempt from the above restriction that requires the use of permanent stop are snares that have a lock or device with a breaking strength of 350 pounds of pressure or less. Trappers who use these types of snares must submit the snare for breaking strength testing if requested by a GFP representative.

It is unlawful to possess or transport snares not properly equipped, except manufacturers may obtain a free Shipping and Transportation Permit from a GFP Conservation Officer to ship or transport snares to another area that does not require the same equipment as South Dakota.

Snares are prohibited May 1-Nov. 13 on improved road rights of way and on all public lands statewide.

Trap Checking:
Traps, including snares, must be checked prior to midnight of the second full calendar day (from the time the trap was initially set or last checked) east of the Missouri River and prior to midnight of the third full calendar day west of the Missouri River. Any animal caught must be removed.

Traps or snares that are entirely submerged in the water and remain set beneath ice must be checked and any caught animals removed prior to midnight of the fifth full calendar day statewide.

Trap Removals:
If traps and snares are not being checked within the required trap check period, traps shall be rendered inoperable and snares shall be closed to their permanent stop, or closed to less than 2-1/2 inches if not equipped with a permanent stop. All traps and snares must be removed from public lands and improved road rights of way prior to May 1 of each year.

Trap Vandalism:
No person may steal, damage, or destroy someone else’s trap or animal in a trap.

Visible Bait:
Traps may not be set within 30 feet of exposed bait visible to airborne raptors. Exposed bait is meat or viscera of any animal, bird or fish with or without skin, hide or feathers.

Water Sets:
Traps (except any live cage trap or live box trap, snares and traps designed specifically to catch raccoons such as coon cuffs and Egg traps) cannot be placed or set in water or within 30 feet of water from Oct. 1 to the opening of the mink season. However, body-grip traps may be set below the water's edge for beaver, West River (excluding the Black Hills Fire Protection District). All of the bottom surface of these traps must remain completely below the water's edge at all times.

No person may place any trap (set or unset), stake, cable, chain, wire or other device used for the purpose of attaching a trap or otherwise attempt to claim or mark a trap site on any public road right of way or public lands or waters open to trapping within 30 feet of water from Oct. 1 to the opening of the mink season, inclusive. (Please refer to the Furbearer Season Chart for specific dates)

Avoid trapping River Otter

  • While all South Dakota trappers should avoid catching otter, it may occur. If this species is caught in a trap or snare, release it alive without causing injury to yourself or the otter.
  • Reports of incidentally caught live otter should be submitted via phone, e-mail, or mail. Knowing the location of incidentally caught otter helps to monitor the distribution of otters in the state.
  • More information is available in this brochure, River Otter Avoidance Techniques.