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Trapping in Wisconsin: wildlife management and continued cultural heritage

complete trapper education.
trapping license information and fees.
apply for a permit and check permit status online.

Trapping is one of the oldest forms of hunting. It was the “mountain man” trappers who opened up North America for westward expansion. Probably the first industry in North America, the fur trade continues today.

Trapping in Wisconsin is highly regulated to ensure that wildlife management goals are met and healthy populations are sustained. Trapping has come a long way since the “mountain man” days and on top of accomplishing management goals has progressed wildlife research in many ways. If you want to learn about Wisconsin’s less familiar wildlife while generating some local food and clothing at the same time, consider taking a Trapper Education course to learn more.

New trappers must pass a Trapper Education course before purchasing a trapping permit (look for classes above). If you are a veteran trapper, please consider becoming a Trapper Education Instructor. For information on becoming an instructor check out our Trapper Ed Instructor Cubby page.

With the youth supervised and mentored trapping regulations, some folks have been wondering who can trap the limited draw species of bobcat and fisher. The table below should help to clarify this. Beginning in 2020, river otter will no longer be a limited draw species and so may be pursued by trappers with a mentored trapping license.

Age License Type required Trapper education required Bobcat Fisher
0-15 None No Yes Yes
16+ Trapping license Yes Yes Yes
16+ Trapping license Farmer or trapping prior to 1992 - No Yes Yes
16+ Mentored trapping license No No* No
* harvesters may hunt bobcat with the proper licenses with no need for trapper education

Bobcat, fisher and otter quotas are now available

Details regarding the bobcat, fisher and otter drawings are available in September for the current year. Check previous Drawing results.

Note to hunters/trappers: You may encounter bobcats wearing radio collars in Wisconsin. It is legal to harvest bobcats wearing collars if you have a harvest permit. On top of collecting location data, the collars can help us to learn about lifespan and mortality of these elusive critters.

The Wisconsin Furbearer Hotline – (855) 299 – 9653

The Wisconsin Furbearer Hotline will be updated regularly and can be used to monitor zone progress towards the quota. It is unlikely that the Department would close a furbearer zone as harvester success rates from recent years are used to issue permits. This allows harvesters to approach or reach the quota without closing zones. Should the Department need to close a zone, ample notice will be provided by the Wisconsin Furbearer Hotline, a press release would be issued and this page would be updated to reflect the closures.

Last Revised: Wednesday February 12 2020