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Trapping: Current Status and Possible Changes

Regulated trapping is an effective, species-specific and humane way to manage wildlife for the benefit of people and wildlife populations. It can minimize human-wildlife conflicts, reduce impacts from non-native, invasive species, and help protect threatened and endangered species. Trapping also is used for relocating animals to restore populations in areas where conditions are suitable for the species to thrive. In addition, trapping allows for the regulated, sustainable harvest of animals for food and other uses. See an infographic about the uses of regulated trapping.

The FWC is evaluating existing rules and 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. Modern trapping practices and equipment prioritize animal welfare and are based on decades of scientific research and a commitment to providing trapper education. The following information shows Florida's current rules for the various types of traps as well as possible changes.

Trap Types

Foothold or Foot Enclosed

Devices designed to capture and hold an animal alive by the foot

Foothold or Foot Enclosed

Status

  • Allowed only by special use permit provided under rule
  • Special use permit eligibility is limited to certain users, consistent with FWC guidelines

Where Allowed

  • Specified by permit

Trap Requirements

  • Permit specific to include target species, location, duration, and reporting
  • Traps must meet Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies' best management practices criteria and foothold traps must have offset or padded jaws
  • Traps must be inspected at least once every 24 hours

Education Requirements

  • Taking the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies’ North American Basic Trapper Course is encouraged but not required

Reporting Requirements

  • Limited data is collected from trappers
Foothold or Foot Enclosed

Status

  • Would be allowed by rule (see requirements below)

Where Allowed

  • Land or water

Trap Requirements

  • Maximum jaw spread is limited to 5.75” for species that the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies' best management practices criteria allow for larger trap sizes
  • Must have smooth, offset jaws with at least a quarter (0.25) inch gap when the trap is closed or have manufacturer-installed padded jaws.
  • Shall not be set within 300 feet of:
    • A structure used as a residence or business, unless granted written permission by the structure owner or lessee 
    • A federal, state or county-maintained road, sidewalk, campground, picnic area, trail, boat ramp, or observation area, unless being set to capture nuisance wildlife or wildlife posing a risk to airport operation safety
    • The legal property boundary where the trap is set, unless granted written permission by the adjacent landowner or lessee (this restriction does not apply to properties of 10 acres or more)
  • Shall not be set within 30 feet of hides, entrails, or carcass
  • Must be inspected every morning

Education Requirements

  • Anyone setting or checking a foothold trap to take wildlife shall have successfully completed the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies’ North American Basic Trapper Course and FWC-provided trapping rules training prior to setting the trap. Proof of course completion must be in possession while setting or checking traps

Reporting Requirements

  • Anyone setting or checking foothold traps is required to maintain a daily log and submit an annual report containing the following information:
    • Trap types used
    • Types and numbers of species captured
    • General location (i.e., county)
    • Disposition of captured animals

Purpose

  • Provides clarity on allowed uses 
  • Limiting maximum jaw spread and requiring a quarter (0.25) inch gap when the trap is closed or have manufacturer-installed padded jaws reduces unintended (nontarget) animal captures.
  • Restricting trap placement would reduce:
    • Nontarget animal captures
    • Possibility of injury or drowning of captured animal
    • Landowner/user conflicts
  • Daily morning inspection would reduce the likelihood a captured animal will spend time in the trap during the hottest part of the day
  • These trap types could be used by all holders of the no-cost trapping permit who have completed the required training

Body Gripping

Devices designed to close on an animal’s head, neck, or torso and quickly kill it

Body Gripping

Status

  • Allowed only by special use permit provided under rule
  • Special use permit eligibility is limited to certain users, consistent with FWC guidelines

Where Allowed

  • Specified by permit

Trap Requirements

  • Permit specific to include target species, location, duration, and reporting
  • Permits require traps meet Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies' best management practices criteria
  • Traps must be inspected at least once every 24 hours
  • Trap must be submerged underwater

Education Requirements

  • Taking the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies’ North American Basic Trapper Course is encouraged but not required

Reporting Requirements

  • Limited data is collected from trappers
Body Gripping

Status

  • Would be allowed by rule (see requirements below)

Where Allowed

  • Water only

Trap Requirements

  • Maximum trap opening cannot exceed 10"
  • Shall not be set within 300 feet of:
    • A structure used as a residence or business, unless granted written permission by the structure owner or lessee 
    • A federal, state or county-maintained road, sidewalk, campground, picnic area, trail, boat ramp, or observation area, unless being set to capture nuisance wildlife or wildlife posing a risk to airport operation safety
    • The legal property boundary where the trap is set, unless granted written permission by the adjacent landowner or lessee (this restriction does not apply to properties of 10 acres or more)
  • Must be fully submerged in water
  • Must be inspected every morning

Education Requirements

  • Anyone setting or checking a body-gripping trap to take wildlife shall have successfully completed the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies’ North American Basic Trapper Course and FWC-provided trapping rules training prior to setting the trap. Proof of course completion must be in possession while setting or checking traps

Reporting Requirements

  • Anyone setting or checking body gripping traps is required to maintain a daily log and submit an annual report containing the following information:
    • Trap types used
    • Types and numbers of species captured
    • General location (i.e., county)
    • Disposition of captured animals

Purpose

  • Provides clarity on allowed uses
  • Unintended (nontarget) animal captures would be reduced by:
    • Limiting trap opening size
    • Requiring traps to be submerged underwater
    • Requiring traps to be positioned with the trigger at the top
  • Restricting trap placement would reduce landowner/user conflicts 
  • This trap type could be used by all holders of the no-cost trapping permit who have completed the required training

Snare

Cable Snare

Status

  • Allowed by rule

Where Allowed

  • Land or water

Trap Requirements

  • Must be inspected at least once every 24 hours.

Education Requirements

  • Taking the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies’ North American Basic Trapper Course is encouraged but not required
Cable Snare

Status

  • Rule would prohibit snares that do not comply with the new requirements for cable restraints (see Cable Restraint below).

Purpose

  • Use of cable restraints that comply with the new requirements would:
    • Improve animal welfare by reducing injuries
    • Reduce unintended (nontarget) animal captures and allow for the unharmed release or escape of nontarget animals
    • Keep captured animals alive

Cable Restraint

Metal stranded cable devices consisting of a loop and relaxing lock designed to capture and hold an animal alive by a part of the body

Cable Restraint

Status

  • Allowed by rule

Education Requirements

  • Taking the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies’ North American Basic Trapper Course is encouraged but not required
Cable Restraint

Status

  • Would be allowed by rule (see requirements below)

Where Allowed

  • Land

Trap Requirements

  • Cannot be power assisted and must consist of:
    • A relaxing lock
    • An inline swivel
    • Stops that limit the minimum and maximum loop sizes to approximately 3” and 11”
    • A 285 lbs. or less breakaway device n 7x7, 7x19, or 1x19 stranded metal cable and cannot exceed 6’ in length
    • 1/8” diameter cable or less
  • Shall not be set within 300 feet of:
    • A structure used as a residence or business, unless granted written permission by the structure owner or lessee
    • A federal, state or county-maintained road, sidewalk, campground, picnic area, trail, boat ramp, or observation area, unless being set to capture nuisance wildlife or wildlife posing a risk to airport operation safety
    • The legal property boundary where the trap is set, unless granted written permission by the adjacent landowner or lessee (this restriction does not apply to properties of 10 acres or more)
  • Shall not be set within 30 feet of hides, entrails, or carcasses
  • Shall not be set in such a way that the captured animal or restraint device could become entangled in any part of a fence, pole, or rooted woody vegetation greater than 0.5” in diameter
  • Must be inspected every morning

Education Requirements

  • Anyone setting or checking a cable-restraint trap to take wildlife shall have successfully completed the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies’ North American Basic Trapper Course and FWC-provided trapping rules training training prior to setting the trap. Proof of course completion must be in possession while setting or checking traps.

Reporting Requirements

  • Anyone setting or cable restraint traps is required to maintain a daily log and submit an annual report containing the following information:
    • Trap types used
    • Types and numbers of species captured
    • General location (i.e., county)
    • Disposition of captured animals

Purpose

  • Provides clarity/transparency on allowed uses
  • Cable restraint features would:
    • Improve animal welfare by reducing the possibility of animals being injured or killed while in the trap
    • Reduce the chance of unintended (nontarget) animal captures
    • Design characteristics that would make it a live capture tool
  • Restricting trap placement would reduce:
    • Unintended (nontarget) animal captures
    • Injury or drowning of captured animal
    • Landowner/user conflicts
  • Daily morning inspection would reduce the likelihood a captured animal will spend time in the trap during the hottest part of the day

Corral

Fully open-topped devices designed to capture an animal and hold it alive

Corral

Status

  • Allowed by rule

Where Allowed

  • Land

Trap Requirements

  • Must be inspected at least once every 24 hours
Corral

Status

  • Would be allowed by rule (see requirements below)

Where Allowed

  • Land

Trap Requirements

  • Rule would require that corral traps:
    • Have a fully open top
    • Be inspected every morning

Purpose

  • Provides clarity/transparency on allowed uses
  • Requiring a fully open top would improve species selectivity by providing an exit for nontarget animals
  • Daily morning inspection would reduce the likelihood that a captured animal will spend time in the trap during the hottest part of the day

Cage

Fully enclosed devices designed to capture an animal and hold it alive

Cage

Status

  • Allowed by rule

Where allowed

  • Land or water

Trap Requirements

  • Must be inspected at least once every 24 hours

Education Requirements

  • Taking the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies’ North American Basic Trapper Course is encouraged but not required
Cage

Status

  • Would be allowed by rule (see requirements below)

Where Allowed

  • Land or water

Trap Requirements

  • Maximum cage trap size cannot exceed 20” wide or 28” high or 60.5” in length
  • Must be inspected every morning

Education Requirements

  • Anyone setting or checking a cage trap to take wildlife shall have successfully completed the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies’ North American Basic Trapper Course and FWC-provided trapping rules training prior to setting the trap, except owners or lessees of property when setting two or fewer cage traps on their property. Proof of course completion must be in possession while setting or checking traps.

Reporting Requirements

  • Anyone setting or checking cage traps is required to maintain a daily log and submit an annual report containing the following information:
    • Trap types used
    • Types and numbers of species captured
    • General location (i.e., county)
    • Disposition of captured animals

Purpose

  • Provides clarity on allowed uses
  • Smaller cage sizes compared to what is currently allowed would reduce the chance of unintended (non-target) animal captures
  • Daily morning inspection would reduce the liklihood that a captured animal will spend time in the trap during the hottest part of the day

Glue Trap

Any device using natural or synthetic adhesive typically applied to cardboard, plastic trays, or similar material designed to catch and hold an animal alive, excluding devices designed to capture flies

Glue Trap

Status

  • Allowed by rule

Where Allowed

  • Land
Glue Trap

Status

  • Would be allowed by rule (see requirement below)

Where Allowed

  • Land

Trap Requirements

  • Rule would prohibit use of glue traps outdoors

Purpose

  • Provides clarity on allowed uses
  • Reduces unintended (nontarget) captures
  • Improves animal welfare

Provide Your Input

Find information about attending one of the FWC's webinars and how to share your feedback via an online commenting tool, which is available through Jan. 8.

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