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About Possible Changes to Trapping

Provide Your Input

Share your feedback via an online commenting tool, which will be available through Jan. 8, and/or learn more by attending one of the webinars listed below.

Online Commenting Tool

The FWC is evaluating existing rules that address the regulated use of trapping and is actively seeking public input throughout the process (see below for how to provide your input). Regulated trapping, based on the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies' best management practices, is a species-selective and humane way to manage wildlife for the benefit of people and wildlife populations.

Regulated trapping is a component of many wildlife management programs in the United States. It can reduce human-wildlife conflicts, impacts from invasive species, damage to property, and habitat degradation. Trapping also is used to help protect threatened and endangered species and relocate animals to restore populations in areas where conditions are suitable for the species to thrive. Throughout the country, natural resource agencies recognize regulated trapping by licensed members of the public as a sustainable use of wildlife resources for food and other purposes.

It's also an effective method of studying wildlife populations and information obtained from trapping can inform management decisions. Scientists collect important ecological information about wildlife through the use of trapping. Preferred habitats, migration patterns, survival, reproduction and population estimates for select wildlife species are determined through mark and recapture programs and by monitoring regulated harvest levels. In addition, trapping can help reduce the exposure of humans and pets to rabies and other wildlife diseases. Regulated trapping is recognized by wildlife managers as a beneficial management activity to maintain healthy wildlife populations. See an infographic about the uses of regulated trapping.

To better align with the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies' best management practices, the FWC is exploring possible rule changes that would limit sizes, types and usage of traps.

Learn More and Provide Input!

Get more information about the possible changes being considered by reviewing the frequently asked questions below and learn about current trap types and requirements and possible changes

The FWC is providing opportunities to share your feedback via an online commenting tool and a series of webinars.

Learn more and ask questions by participating in one of the following webinars hosted by the FWC.

Nov. 30 -  1 p.m. to 4 p.m. EST - Webinar completed

Dec. 1 - 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. EST - Webinar completed

Dec. 4 -  9 a.m. to noon EST - Webinar completed

Dec. 6 - 9 a.m. to noon EST - Webinar completed

Dec. 9 - 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. EST

  • Join Zoom Meeting
    • Meeting ID: 967 2162 2500
    • Passcode: 991726
  • If joining by phone, dial: 301-715-8592 

If you're unable to participate in a webinar or want to provide feedback, view the possible changes and provide your input via the online commenting tool

NOTE: The FWC is interested in feedback from stakeholders and the public on concepts and ideas related to modernizing trapping rules. The FWC contracted with the University of Central Florida - Institute for Social and Behavioral Sciences to capture and analyze public input via an online commenting tool. The online commenting tool will be available through Jan. 8, 2022.

FWC staff will work with UCF experts to gain a comprehensive understanding of the feedback received as we develop a well-informed approach to exploring possible rule changes to better align with the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies' best management practices.

FAQs: General Trapping Information

Wildlife biologists recognize regulated trapping as an important wildlife management tool with many uses, including:

  • Manage and protect endangered species
  • Collect important ecological information about wildlife
  • Reduce or prevent damage to agricultural crops and personal property
  • Remove non-native species
  • Reduce or prevent threats to human and pet health and safety
  • Harvest animals for food and other uses

Regulated trapping and the associated data can be monitored by professional wildlife biologists to ensure it does not negatively impact wildlife populations. The FWC is evaluating existing rules and exploring possible changes that align with best practices in support of humane trapping and staff is actively seeking public comment throughout this process. In certain situations, trapping may be the only way to achieve desired results in wildlife management. Regulated trapping is used as an effective tool throughout the country.

Learn more about how regulated trapping is used.

Regulated trapping benefits people and wildlife. It is one way to help minimize property damage or public safety threats caused by wildlife, along with removing food attractants and securing pets. Regulated trapping can be used to manage wildlife exhibiting conflict behavior and sick or diseased wildlife.  

Trapping assists experts in researching species, and in some cases, relocating or restoring them to areas where they can thrive. For example, river otters were once absent from some of the Northeast and most of the Midwest but now populations are stable throughout these areas. This turn of events contrasts with conditions in the early 1900s when river otters nearly disappeared due to a substantial loss of habitat and 200 years of unregulated trapping and hunting. Thanks to a partnership between trappers and wildlife biologists, nearly 4,000 otters were released back into the wild in 12 states throughout the Midwest and Northeast, after being trapped in places where they are abundant, such as Louisiana and North Carolina. The traps and techniques used for those relocations are examples of best management practices.

Regulated trapping can help restore threatened and endangered species populations by managing wildlife that may prey on these species or destroy their habitats. Sea turtles, shorebirds, whooping cranes, and other rare species in Florida often benefit from predation management efforts to restore their populations. Wildlife managers use a variety of tools including targeted trapping of individual animals to ensure survival of protected species’ nests and young.

Regulated trapping by licensed members of the public is a humane, effective, and species-specific method for harvesting/taking wildlife. It is a sustainable use of wildlife resources, providing connection to nature, outdoor skill development, and increased knowledge of wildlife as well as being an effective method of managing and studying wildlife populations. Regulated trapping incorporates modernized technologies designed to enhance animal welfare.

See an infographic about the uses of regulated trapping.

Wildlife management is a complex, scientific discipline that incorporates habitats, wildlife damage control, public health and safety, and the responsible treatment of wildlife. Our goal is to apply this science to manage wildlife populations. Balancing the long-term well-being of wildlife with the benefit of people is the focus of our mission. Regulated trapping is a proven method for conserving and managing Florida’s wildlife resources.

There are a variety of resources available to trappers including:

Possible rule changes would also include required training.

The Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies (AFWA) represents North America’s state, provincial and territorial fish and wildlife agencies to advance sound, science-based management and conservation of fish and wildlife and their habitats in the public interest.

The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies coordinated with experts from all state fish and wildlife agencies in the U.S. and Canada as well as other conservation, natural resource and animal welfare organizations and agencies to improve and modernize trapping technology. Professional wildlife biologists, veterinarians and experts in the field of trapping developed best management practices using scientific research to identify efficient and humane traps, improve those tools and techniques, and develop trapping education programs.

Best management practices (BMPs) are available to federal, state and provincial wildlife agencies, trapper organizations, and any other interested parties. Visit the Furbearer Management and Best Management Practices for Trapping webpage to download BMPs for 22 North American furbearer species and trapper education information. The BMPs and the trapper education materials have been incorporated into federal, state and provincial wildlife management programs.

Wildlife professionals, in cooperation with wildlife veterinarians, use the information gathered through the trapping best management practice research to determine which devices are most effective, species-specific and humane. This information is collected following standards for evaluation outlined by The International Organization for Standardization, an organization that determines standards for products around the world. Those standards for evaluation are intended for use in the United States and worldwide. These standards are consistent with the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies' best management practices, which are supported by The Wildlife SocietyAmerican Association of Wildlife Veterinarians and the American Veterinary Medical Association.

FAQs: Overview of Possible Changes

The FWC periodically evaluates existing rules to determine if any changes are needed. The FWC is exploring possible changes that would modernize trapping rules to align with the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies’ best management practices in support of effective, species-specific humane trapping methods.

Learn more by reviewing current trap types and requirements and possible changes. 

Trapping methods and technologies have improved over time to support more species-selective and humane practices. To better align with the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies' best management practices, the FWC is exploring possible rule changes that would limit sizes, types and usage of traps.

Modernizing trapping practices and equipment are based on decades of scientific research. These improvements, coupled with a commitment to comprehensive trapper education, prioritize animal welfare. The FWC is dedicated to reviewing and developing rule changes that align with best practices developed in support of humane trapping. Staff is actively seeking public comment throughout this process.

Learn more by reviewing current trap types and requirements and possible changes. 

FWC staff across the agency are working together to evaluate rules that address the regulated use of trapping in an effort to modernize trapping rules to align with the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies’ best management practices in support of effective, species-specific humane trapping methods.

Input from stakeholder groups and individuals who are involved or interested in trapping is vitally important to this effort. We are actively seeking feedback from stakeholders and the public on the concepts and ideas related to modernizing trapping rules. See the information at the top of this page for information about how to attend webinars and provide your feedback through an online commenting tool.

The FWC contracted with the Florida State University Consensus Center to facilitate the webinars. In addition, the FWC contracted with the University of Central Florida - Institute for Social and Behavioral Sciences to capture and analyze your opinions via an online commenting tool. FWC staff will work with UCF experts to gain a comprehensive understanding of the feedback received as they develop a well-informed approach to exploring possible rule changes to better align with the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies' best management practices.

Webinars

Learn more and ask questions by participating in one of the following webinars hosted by the FWC.

Nov. 30 -  1 p.m. to 4 p.m. EST - Webinar completed

Dec. 1 - 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. EST - Webinar completed

Dec. 4 -  9 a.m. to noon EST

  • Join Zoom Meeting
    • Meeting ID: 951 5098 2874
    • Passcode: 346618
  • If joining by phone, dial: 301-715-8592 

Dec. 6 - 9 a.m. to noon EST

  • Join Zoom Meeting
    • Meeting ID: 985 5374 5846
    • Passcode: 000049
  • If joining by phone, dial: 301-715-8592 

Dec. 9 - 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. EST

    • Join Zoom Meeting
      • Meeting ID: 967 2162 2500
      • Passcode: 991726
    • If joining by phone, dial: 301-715-8592 

Online Commenting Tool

If you're unable to participate in a webinar or want to learn more and provide comments, view the proposed rule changes and provide your feedback via the online commenting tool, which will be available through Jan. 8.

 

The FWC is in the process of evaluating rule language and exploring possible changes and will bring proposed draft rule changes to a future Commission meeting for consideration. Staff will actively seek public comment throughout this process.

FAQs: Details Related to Possible Changes

Animal welfare is critically important to the FWC. Any discussion about people using animals has moral, ethical and practical implications. Trapping best management practices prioritize animal welfare by reducing injuries to animals while they are in a trap and allowing for the release of nontarget or unintended captures. The United States and Canada have conducted the most extensive scientific testing of traps in the world to develop best management practices that ensure traps are humane, efficient, safe and selective. The FWC is exploring possible rule changes that would incorporate the best management practices standards to promote animal welfare.

The recommended changes are based on extensive research efforts that show which trap designs, types, and locations will minimize injury to captured animals. For more information see the AFWA Best Management Practices introduction.

Possible changes would limit the size, type, and placement to reduce the chances of catching unintended captures or nontarget animals. For example, corral traps for hogs would be required to have open tops, which allows nontarget animals like deer, bear, or turkey to get out of the trap.

Learn more by reviewing current trap types and requirements and possible changes. 

Snares, cable restraint, foothold/foot enclosed, body gripping, corral, cage, and glue traps are addressed in the possible changes.

Learn more about current trap types and requirements and possible changes

Please see a summary of the concepts being explored.

Steel traps (i.e., body gripping and foothold traps) are only allowed by special use permits. 

In 1973, the Florida Game and Fish Commission (FWC’s predecessor) restricted the use of steel traps to only allow them with special use permits. Since that time, the agency updated policies on steel traps to include increased reporting and restrictions. Possible changes currently being considered would further modernize trapping rules to increase selectivity and improve animal welfare. 

Snares can be lethal to captured animals. The proposed cable restraint is designed for live capture and has several features that reduce nontarget captures and improve the welfare of captured animals.

Learn more about current trap types and requirements and possible changes

The FWC is proposing to reduce the length of time a trapped animal can be held to reduce stress and injury captured animals can experience. People trapping nuisance wildlife who are releasing, relocating or humanely killing an animal offsite after it has been trapped currently have 24 hours to do so. The possible changes would reduce this to 12 hours. See the current Taking Nuisance Wildlife rule for more information. 

Wildlife can be trapped to manage nuisance wildlife behavior, increase success of threatened and endangered species management, game species restoration programs, or for the sustainable harvest of wildlife for food and other uses.

Wildlife that causes or is about to cause property damage, presents a threat to public safety, or wildlife causing an annoyance within, under or upon a building. 

Homeowners who are using two or fewer cage traps on their property would be exempt from registration, training and reporting requirements. 

Yes. Possible changes would apply to any individual checking or setting wildlife traps, with the exception of fully open-top corral traps or homeowners using two or fewer cage traps on their own property.

Anyone setting foothold traps, body-gripping traps, cable restraints, or cage traps (unless setting 2 or fewer cage traps on their own property) will need to take the trainings. The North American Basic Trapper Education Course covers safety, skills, ethics and responsibility. The Florida module will cover wildlife trapping laws specific to Florida.

Homeowners using cable restraints, foothold or body gripping traps would be required to follow registration, training and reporting requirements. While the FWC  encourages training for everyone using traps, homeowners using two or fewer cage traps would not be required to complete the registration, training or reporting requirements. 

Anyone setting foothold traps, body-gripping traps, cable restraints, or cage traps (unless setting 2 or fewer cage traps on their own property). 
 

Anyone setting foothold traps, body-gripping traps, cable restraints, or cage traps (unless setting 2 or fewer cage traps on their own property) would need to register, report and complete the trainings.

The FWC seeks to modernize trapping to align with the updated methods, technologies and research in the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies' best management practices for effective, species-selective and humane ways to manage wildlife. The FWC is considering possible rule changes that would limit specific trap sizes, types and usage of traps and would require training and reporting by most trappers.

Regulated trapping requires anyone who participates to follow rules established and enforced by the FWC. Possible changes to trapping rules might include required training and reporting, restrictions on species, seasons, types and sizes of traps, how often traps must be checked and areas in which trapping is permitted. FWC Officers are trained to identify trapping devices in the field and will enforce rules regulating trap use. Penalties for trapping rule violations range from fines to jail time. In some cases, hunting, fishing and trapping licenses and privileges may be suspended, which could result in the loss of privileges in the 48 states that are members of the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact (IWVC).

Learn more by reviewing current trap types and requirements and possible changes. 

Regulated trapping is a valuable, species specific and humane way to manage and conserve Florida wildlife and benefit people. This infographic covers how regulated trapping can be used to manage and protect endangered species, collect important ecological information about wildlife, reduce or prevent damage to agricultural crops and personal property, remove non-native species, reduce or prevent threats to human and pet health and safety, and harvest animals for food and other uses.