Trapping and Commercial Fur Harvest Regulations
This information expires July 1, 2013
Fur Harvest Statutes
This brochure contains a summary of the state statutes regarding the commercial harvest of furbearers. Applicable statutes are listed in parentheses at the end of each section of this brochure. Copies of actual statutes of the SC Code of Laws are available online from the SC Legislature or by writing: Furbearer Program, SC Department of Natural Resources, P.O. Box 167, Columbia, SC 29202.
Legislative Changes for the 2012-2013 Season
Coyotes are now designated as furbearing animals. The new maximum inside jaw spread for foothold traps in water sets is 7¼". Trappers must visit their traps once each day from 2 hours before official sunrise to 2 hours after official sunset and a trapper may visit traps at night. Body gripping traps in water sets and other traps in submersion sets are required to be checked once every 48 hours. Lures and scents (but not baits) can now be used with body-gripping traps. Also, a licensed trapper can designate another licensed trapper to check his traps, but the designee must have written permission from the owner of the trap. A youth under 16 who completes an approved Trapper Education class can purchase a Commercial Fur Harvest License without having to obtain a hunting license. The cost of a Fur Processors License was reduced from $500 to $200. It is now legal to hunt coyotes at night with any firearm, bow, or crossbow using artificial lights and nightvision equipment from the last day of February to July 1 upon notification to DNR at least 48 hours in advance. Centerfire rifles used during this time must be fired from an elevated position at least 10 feet from the ground. Lastly, the penalties for illegal coyote and fox importation were increased.
Furbearers which may be commercially harvested
The following species are legally classified as furbearers and may be taken by hunting or trapping during the open season: bobcat, coyote red fox, gray fox, opossum, raccoon, otter, mink, weasel, striped skunk, spotted skunk, muskrat and beaver. The pelts of these animals may be sold with a valid commercial fur harvest license. (50-11-110, 50-11-1080 50-11-2400)
Anyone who traps or attempts to trap furbearing animals, whether commercially or recreationally, or anyone that takes by any means, for sale, trade, exchange or barter, and/or anyone who possesses more than 5 furbearing animals or raw or green pelts must have the following licenses: (1) a valid state hunting license (regardless of age*) and (2) a Commercial Fur Harvesters License ($25 for resident, $200 for nonresidents.) These licenses shall be carried while involved in fur taking activities. A youth (under 16) is not required to be licensed in order to assist a licensed fur harvester, so long as the youth is in the presence of the licensed fur harvester and the youth does not sell, trade, exchange, or barter any furbearing animals taken under the authority of the licensed fur harvester.
Anyone who purchases any whole furbearing animal, raw or green furs, pelts or hides is required to have a Fur Buyer’s License ($100.00 for residents, $200 for nonresidents).
Exemptions from Fur Buyer’s License: (1) a person who acquires not more than five furs, pelts, hides, or whole animals for his own personal use during one season and not for barter, exchange, or sale; (2) a person licensed as a fur processor ($200); (3) a taxidermist who possesses a fur, pelt, hide, or whole furbearing animal legally owned by another person which he is holding temporarily solely for the purposes of processing; (4) a person acquiring furbearing animal carcasses without hides; (5) an owner or enclosure operator of a permitted fox and coyote hunting enclosure who purchases live foxes or coyotes for release into the enclosure. (50-9-450, 50-11-2470, 50-11-2480)
In South Carolina, a trap is defined as: “any device, other than a weapon, designed or constructed for taking animals.”
The following traps are legal to use for trapping statewide:
- Foothold traps with an inside jaw spread of 5 ¾” or smaller on land and 7 ¼” or smaller for water sets. Inside jaw spread is measured at the widest point perpendicular to the pivot points (jaw hinges) when the trap is in the set position (Figure 1).
- Enclosed foothold traps such as “Egg”, “Duffer”, “Coon-cuff”, and similarly designed dog-proof style traps designed for raccoons.
- Body gripping traps of the Conibear type in water or slide sets only. No bait or scents are allowed to be used with body-gripping traps.
- Snares may be used in water sets only.
- Live traps. Live traps may also be used to catch feral animals at any time without a license or permit from the Department.
- Small snap, box and other commonly used traps to catch commensal rodents or snakes in homes and businesses may be used at any time by property owners, occupants, or their designees to catch snakes, rats and mice.
All other traps and trap uses, including deadfall traps are unlawful, regardless of the intended species.
All traps must have an identification tag bearing the owner’s name and address. (50-11-2400, 50-11-2460)
It is lawful to trap furbearing animals and coyotes from December 1 of each year to March 1 of the following year with a valid Commercial Fur Harvesters License. Furbearer hunting seasons vary by game zone and are printed in the annual SCDNR Rules and Regulations brochure. Coyotes and beaver may be hunted during daylight hours year ‘round on private lands.
Raccoons, opossums, foxes, mink, and skunk may be hunted at night; however, they may not be hunted with artificial lights except when treed or cornered with dogs and no buckshot or any shot larger than #4, or any rifle ammunition larger than a twenty-two rimfire may be used. Devices that amplify light using any type of power source are considered artificial light (including night vision or thermal imaging equipment). (50-11-120, 50-11-710, 50-11-1080, 50-11-2540)
Night Hunting for Coyotes
A hunting license is required, however there is no closed season on hunting coyotes on private land statewide during daylight hours with or without bait. Coyotes may be hunted at night with an artificial light or nightvision devices using a rimfire rifle, bow and arrow (no crossbows), a shotgun with a shot size no larger than size BB, or a sidearm of any caliber that has iron sights, a barrel length not exceeding nine inches, and which is not equipped with a buttstock, scope, or laser sight. From the last day of February to July 1, if the landowner provides notification to DNR at least 48 hours in advance, coyotes may be hunted at night with artificial lights and nightvision devices using any legal firearm, bow, or crossbow. Notice to the DNR is required once per season for each property and the names and license numbers of each person participating in the hunt must be listed. Hunters using centerfire rifles during this time must be at an elevated position at least 10 feet from the ground. Persons convicted of certain road hunting and night hunting violations during the previous five years are ineligible to hunt coyotes at night. (50-11-1080, 50-11-710)
It is illegal to hunt, catch, take, kill or attempt to hunt, catch, take or kill any game bird or game animal with the aid of electronic calls. Except for coyotes, all furbearing animals are also classified as small game and cannot be taken with electronic calls. However, it is legal to use electronic calls during the day or night for hunting coyotes on private lands and on WMA lands where hunting for those species is allowed. (50-11-40)
Depredation permits may be issued by the SCDNR for the taking of furbearing animals which are destroying or damaging private or public property, wildlife habitat, game species, timber, crops, or other agriculture so as to be a nuisance, or for scientific, research, or wildlife management purposes. There is no cost for this permit. Animals captured under a depredation permit may not be relocated, sold, traded, exchanged, or bartered.
A depredation permit or license is not required by the property owner, or his or her designee, when capturing furbearing animals or squirrels within one-hundred yards of the owner’s home when the animals are causing damage to the owner’s property. Animals captured under this exemption may not be relocated and must be released or destroyed. (50-11-2570)
A person may trap on lands that he owns, or on lands owned by others, provided the trapper has written permission from the landowner. The written permission must be in the trapper’s possession at all times while engaged in trapping activities.
There is no trapping allowed on Wildlife Management Area or Heritage Preserve lands.
All traps must be checked at least once daily from two hours before official sunrise to two hours after official sunset. Body gripping traps used in water sets and other traps used in submersion sets must be checked once every 48 hours. No one, except the owner of the trap, may remove any legally trapped animal from the trap; however, a licensed trapper may tend another’s traps with written permission of the trap’s owner or agent.
Any person shipping or transporting raw furs, pelts, hides or whole animals out of South Carolina must obtain a permit from the SCDNR. A conservation officer should be notified at least 48 hours prior to the need of a shipping permit in order to inspect the package and issue the permit. A list of SCDNR Law Enforcement offices can be found on the back of this brochure. (50-11-2430, 50-11-2440, 50-11-2445, 50-11-2500, 50-11-2550)
Special Tagging Requirement for Bobcat and Otter
Any person required to have a commercial fur license who takes any bobcat or otter must tag the fur, pelt, hide, or whole animal before it is sold, shipped, transferred to any person or business, or transported out of the state, if required by the Federal Government in order to comply with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
A commercial fur licensee must apply to SCDNR before CITES tags can be issued. There is no fee for each individual tag, but the SCDNR must charge a processing fee of $3.00 for each order. No more than 10 tags may be ordered at any one time. Bobcat and Otter tags may only be ordered from Nov. 1st - April 30th.
The tags must be securely attached and may not be removed until the time of processing. CITES tags are nontransferable and may not be altered in any manner. The SCDNR may limit the number of tags issued for each species and the area in which they may be used. Furbearing animals to be sold as live animals are not required to be tagged. (50-11-2510)
Fur Harvest Reporting Requirement
All commercial fur harvest licensees shall submit an annual report of their harvest to the SCDNR by April 15th of each year, using forms provided by the SCDNR. In addition, a trapper shall maintain an accurate daily record of all live fox and coyote sales or transfers on forms provided by the SCDNR. These live fox and coyote transaction forms must be retained by the trapper and made available for reasonable inquiry by SCDNR employees.
Any trapper who sells or transfers live foxes or coyotes to permitted fox and coyote hunting enclosures must submit all daily records of these transactions by April 15th of each year on the forms provided by the SCDNR.
Failure to report by date due, upon 2nd offense, shall render the violator ineligible for a commercial fur harvest license the following year, in addition to fines for each offense. (50-11-2450, 50-11-2620, 50-11-2630, 50-11-2650)
Fur Buyers Reporting Requirement
Fur buyers shall keep a daily register of furs purchased on forms provided by the SCDNR. No later than the 10th day of each month the fur buyer shall furnish the SCDNR all daily register sheets from the previous month.
Failure to report will result in the loss of buying privileges for one year in addition to the prescribed penalties. (50-11-2490, 50-11-2560)
Importation of Wildlife
It is unlawful to bring, import, or cause to have imported a live coyote or fox into the state. It is also unlawful to release a coyote or fox into the state, except as authorized.
It is unlawful to import any other furbearers into this state without a permit first being issued by the SCDNR. (50-11-1765, 50-11-2605, 50-11-2640, 50-16-20)
Possession and/or Sale of Live Foxes or Coyotes
Live foxes or coyotes may only be sold or transferred to the listed owner or operator of a permitted fox and coyote hunting enclosure by the licensed trapper who took the animal.
A licensed trapper may only possess a live fox or coyote during the commercial fur harvest trapping season (Dec. 1- Mar.1) and for 30 days after (Mar. 2-April 1). After this time, it is unlawful for anyone, except a currently permitted fox and coyote enclosure, to possess a live fox or coyote without a permit issued by the SCDNR. (50-11-2605, 50-11-2630)
Law Enforcement Offices
- Charleston (843) 953-9307
- Clemson (864) 654-8266
- Columbia (803) 734-4002
- Florence (843) 661-4766
Wildlife Section Offices
- Charleston (843) 953-5291
- Clemson (864) 654-1671
- Columbia (803) 734-3886
- Florence (843) 661-4766
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