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Trapping Beavers

In Massachusetts, a regulated beaver trapping season starts November 1st and ends April 15th. During trapping season any MA licensed trapper can trap beaver using live catch (Hancock or Bailey) traps and no permit is needed. A permit from the local Board of Health can be issued to trap beaver out of season if there is a threat to human health, safety, or property. This permit must also be issued for any trapper to use a Conibear or other lethal trap at any time of the year.

If you are interested in becoming a licensed trapper contact your State Wildlife Agency for additional information. Visit the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife website.

Beaver trapping tends to be a short term solution as new beavers can relocate to the trapped area. If trapping is the only management method used, it typically needs to be repeated every year or two. Therefore wherever feasible we recommend flow devices (pond leveler pipes or culvert protective fences) because they are the most long-term and cost-effective solutions to beaver related flooding,

In our experience trapping is necessary for approximately 25% of beaver-human conflicts. Most are better managed with flow devices, (See Beaver Management study PDF)

Trapping Examples

Trapping Combined With Flow Device

  • If a pond level must be dropped more than a foot, problematic downstream damming is likely to occur. First, trap all the beavers accustomed to the high water level and then install a flow device. Problematic damming will be unlikely when new beavers relocate to the area, so trapping is unlikely to be needed again.
  • If a flow device failed for some reason, the beavers may need to be trapped so repairs can be made.

Trapping Exclusively (Without Flow Device)

  • A beaver "No Tolerance Zone" is where human health, property, or safety would be threatened with a minor water level elevation
  • The topography or development of an area presents so many potential conflicts if beavers are permitted stay, it would be cost-prohibitive to "beaver-proof" with flow devices.
  • Landowner preference for trapping over installing a flow device or protecting trees.