2016 - 2017 Regulations: Rabbit Running Enclosures

Status and History

Rabbit running enclosures have been regulated by the Department of Natural Resources since 1993. Since that time, permits for rabbit running enclosures have been issued. Forty-nine enclosures are located throughout the state. Enclosures range in size from 1.2 to 50 acres, with a mean acreage of approximately 18 acres per enclosure.


Originally, the primary advantage to a landowner or pen owner was a year-round running season within the enclosure. Prior to this time, running rabbits with dogs was allowed only during the established season for taking rabbits and a one-month running season. Other advantages include the ability to contain and protect dogs, higher populations of game within enclosures, and the ability to exclude undesirable game such as deer. Many rabbit running enclosures are used by owners or operators as dog training or field trial facilities.

Legislation and Regulations

Legislation enabling the establishment of rabbit running enclosures was passed in 1993. As a result of this enabling legislation, the Department established guidelines for the establishment of rabbit running enclosures. Subsequent to the legislation providing for the establishment of rabbit running enclosures, running season dates were amended to provide for a year-round rabbit running season on private lands statewide. During the 1999-2000 legislative session, Title 50 of the South Carolina Code of Laws was amended to allow year-round trapping of predators within rabbit running enclosures.

Rabbit Pen Application

In accordance with Section 50-11-120, it is legal to establish enclosures for the purpose of running rabbits year round. These enclosures must meet the following criteria:

  1. The enclosure must be completely surrounded with fencing or similar material adequate to prevent the escape of rabbits or hounds.
  2. Penned rabbits must receive proper care including adequate sources of food, water and cover.
  3. Rabbits confined to smaller holding cages within the enclosure should be maintained in a healthy environment. Excreta should be removed as often as necessary to prevent contamination of animals, a control program for parasites and diseases should be established and maintained and animals with a propensity to fight should be segregated.


In accordance with Section 50-11-160, it is unlawful for any person to trap rabbits, except that a landlord or tenant may use not more than five rabbit boxes on lands on which he has exclusive control during the open season for rabbits as provided by law.

To have enclosure approved contact:

South Carolina Department of Natural Resources
Small Game Project
P.O. Box 167
Columbia, SC 29202
(803) 734-4306

The Rabbit Running Enclosures Regulations are also available as a downloadable document in the PDF format.