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Rhode Island

West's General Laws of Rhode Island Annotated. Title 20. Fish and Wildlife. Chapter 16. Fur-Bearing Animals

Statute Details
Printable Version
Citation: Gen.Laws 1956, 20-16-1 - 18

Citation: RI ST 20-16-1 - 18


Last Checked by Web Center Staff: 12/2013

Summary:   These laws mandate how fur-bearing mammals may be hunted and trapped. They also provide for the issuance of trapping licenses and require certain reporting and record-keeping practices. The animals covered are coyotes, foxes, raccoons, fishers, ermine, weasels, mink, skunks, bobcat, beavers, gray squirrels, muskrats, opossums, rabbits and hares. Otters may not be hunted or trapped in Rhode Island.

In order to set traps for fur-bearers, with some exceptions, a person must have a trapping license from the department of environmental management. Traps must be visited at least once every twenty-four (24) hours. To set a trap on the enclosed land of another requires written permission of the owner of the land.  It is forbidden to disturb someone else’s trap or to take a fur-bearing animal from it unless authorized to do so by the owner of the trap.

Steel jawed leghold traps are not allowed to capture any animal, except a permit may be issued to catch a nuisance animal on the landowner’s premises. A violation may result in a fine and/or imprisonment, and the revocation of the trapping license.


Statute in Full:

§ 20-16-1. Fur-bearers protected

§ 20-16-2. Landowners--Nuisance fur-bearers

§ 20-16-3. Possession of ferrets prohibited

§ 20-16-4. Raccoon hunting

§ 20-16-5. Possession of live raccoons

§ 20-16-6. Prohibited methods of taking

§ 20-16-7. License required for trapping--Marking of traps

§ 20-16-8. Trapping--Steel jawed leghold traps

§ 20-16-9. Setting of traps

§ 20-16-10. Green pelt as evidence of unlawful taking

§ 20-16-11. Disturbing traps of another

§ 20-16-12. Report of animals trapped

§ 20-16-13. Deprivation of trapping privileges on second conviction

§ 20-16-14. Fur buyer's license

§ 20-16-15. Fur buyers--Records and reports

§ 20-16-16. Digging or smoking out animals--Use of probes

§ 20-16-17. Prohibition against hunting or killing otter

§ 20-16-18. Unlawful possession or sale of fur-bearers

 

 

§ 20-16-1. Fur-bearers protected

(a) No person shall hunt, pursue, shoot, or trap, or attempt so to do, the following fur-bearing mammals in this state, except in accordance with rules and regulations governing seasons, bag limits, and methods of taking adopted by the director pursuant to § 20-1-12.

(b) For the purposes of this chapter, “fur-bearers” shall be considered to include:

(1) Carnivores (Order Carnivora)

(i) Family Canidae, genus Canis (coyote); genus Urocyon (gray fox); genus Vulpes (red fox).

(ii) Family Procyonidae, genus Procyon (raccoon).

(iii) Family Mustelidae, genus Martes (fisher); genus Mustela, M. erminea (ermine), M. frenata (longtailed weasel), M. vison (mink), genus Mephitis (striped skunk), genus Lutra (river otter).

(iv) Family Felidae, genus Lynx (bobcat).

(2) Rodents (Order Rodentia)

(i) Family Castoridae, genus Castor (beaver).

(ii) Family Sciuridae, genus Sciurus (gray squirrel).

(iii) Family Cricetidae, genus Ondatra (muskrat).

(3) Marsupials (Order Marsupialia): Family Didelphidae, genus Didelphis (opossum).

(4) Rabbits and hares (Order Lagomorpha): Family Leporidae, genus Sylvilagus (Eastern and New England cottontail), genus Lepus (snowshoe hare).

P.L. 1981, ch. 197, § 3.

 

§ 20-16-2. Landowners--Nuisance fur-bearers

Any person owning or leasing and operating any property and any employee of that person may, while on that person's premises, kill and take a fur-bearer which is worrying, wounding, or killing the domestic animals or livestock on the property, or destroying or mutilating agricultural crops or fruit trees on the property, or otherwise causing clear and immediate economic damage to any property belonging to that person or creating a potential health hazard; provided that, except in the case of rabbits, the carcass of the fur-bearer shall be presented to the department within twenty-four (24) hours of taking. The animal may then be possessed by the landowner or lessee for the use of the immediate family of the landowner or lessee, and shall not be sold or offered for sale, except by special permission of the director.

P.L. 1981, ch. 197, § 3; P.L. 1994, ch. 248, § 1.

 

§ 20-16-3. Possession of ferrets prohibited

No person shall own or have in his or her possession in this state a European ferret, nor shall any person use ferrets in hunting any game in this state. In addition to the penalties provided in § 20-1-16, any person violating the provisions of this section shall forfeit the ferret(s). The director may, upon application, give special permission for ownership and possession of a European ferret.

P.L. 1981, ch. 197, § 3; P.L. 1983, ch. 107, § 4.

 

§ 20-16-4. Raccoon hunting

Raccoons may be taken and possessed with the use of a gun, when the taker is accompanied by a dog. No person shall hunt raccoons at night by the use of rifle larger than a twenty-two (22) caliber rim fire long rifle or by the use of shotgun shells carrying shot larger than number four (no. 4) shot or by the use of a light other than a kerosene lantern exclusive of the pressure type or a flashlight with more than six (6) cells. No person shall take or attempt to take raccoons by use of a light from a motor vehicle.

P.L. 1981, ch. 197, § 3.

 

§ 20-16-5. Possession of live raccoons

Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to prohibit a person from keeping a live raccoon or raccoons for either breeding or other purposes while having in his or her possession a permit or license issued by the department to do so.

P.L. 1981, ch. 197, § 3.

 

§ 20-16-6. Prohibited methods of taking

No person shall erect, set, repair, maintain, or tend any snare, or spread any poison, for the purpose of catching or killing any animal, except within buildings located on land owned or occupied by him or her, unless specifically allowed by regulations adopted under § 20-1-12.

P.L. 1981, ch. 197, § 3.

 

§ 20-16-7. License required for trapping--Marking of traps

No person shall set, maintain, or tend any trap for the purpose of taking, killing, or destroying any fur-bearing animal without first obtaining a trapping license from the department of environmental management; provided, however, that a resident of this state or a member of the resident's immediate family may set traps without a license on land owned or leased by him or her and on which he or she is actually domiciled. The trapping license shall have the name of the licensee contained thereon, and every trap set by a licensee shall carry upon it a license identification, insignia, or number in any design, size and form that the director shall designate. No license shall be issued to any nonresident from a state which does not afford to Rhode Island residents trapping privileges.

P.L. 1981, ch. 197, § 3.

 

§ 20-16-8. Trapping--Steel jawed leghold traps

(a) No person shall use, set, place, or maintain or tend any steel jawed leghold trap to capture any fur-bearing mammal or other animal; provided, however, that any person may apply in writing to the director of the department of environmental management for a special permit to use a steel jawed leghold trap to be used on his or her property when there exists on his or her property an animal nuisance which cannot be reasonably abated except by the use of the trap.

(b) If the director determines that this nuisance exists on the property of the applicant which cannot be reasonably abated by means not prohibited by this section, the director may then issue a permit to the applicant for a period not exceeding ninety (90) days to use, set, place, maintain, or tend any steel jawed leghold traps that the director may deem necessary to eliminate the nuisance.

(c) Any person violating this section shall be punished by a fine not exceeding five hundred dollars ($500) or be imprisoned not exceeding one year, or both, and his or her trapping license and privilege to trap shall be revoked for one year from the date of conviction.

P.L. 1981, ch. 197, § 3.

 

§ 20-16-9. Setting of traps

No trap shall be set by any person on the enclosed land of another without the written permission of the owner of the land. Every trap shall be placed in a hole, brush pile, stone wall, or other protected place, so situated as to be inaccessible to any domestic animal. No person setting a trap or traps shall fail to visit the traps at least once every twenty-four (24) hours. No traps shall be set, staked, or placed where fur-bearing animals might be found before the opening day and time of the trapping season established pursuant to § 20-1-12; all traps shall be removed by the last day of the season.

P.L. 1981, ch. 197, § 3.

 

§ 20-16-10. Green pelt as evidence of unlawful taking

The possession of a green pelt or any part of a pelt by any person, except during the open season for the animal and for ten (10) days thereafter, shall be prima facie evidence that the pelt or part of a pelt was unlawfully taken and possessed. For the purposes of this section a “green pelt” is defined to mean a pelt which is not dried, cured, or tanned.

P.L. 1981, ch. 197, § 3.

 

§ 20-16-11. Disturbing traps of another

No person shall disturb, tend, or possess a trap of another, or take a fur-bearing animal from the traps of another unless specifically authorized to do so by the owner.

P.L. 1981, ch. 197, § 3.

 

§ 20-16-12. Report of animals trapped

Every holder of a trapping license shall make a report of the number and species of all fur-bearing animals taken by him or her on forms provided by the department within thirty (30) days of the end of the trapping season and before the expiration of the holder's license. No renewal of a trapping license shall be granted unless the report has been made.

P.L. 1981, ch. 197, § 3.

 

§ 20-16-13. Deprivation of trapping privileges on second conviction

Any person convicted a second time of a violation of any of the provisions of this chapter shall, in addition to the penalties elsewhere prescribed, be deprived of the privilege of trapping for fur-bearing animals within this state for three (3) years thereafter under a penalty of thirty (30) days imprisonment for each offense.

P.L. 1981, ch. 197, § 3.

 

§ 20-16-14. Fur buyer's license

No person, firm, or corporation shall purchase raw furs within this state unless the person, firm or corporation has a valid fur buyer's license. Raw fur buyer's licenses shall be issued by the department upon application and payment of license fees as provided in chapter 2 of this title.

P.L. 1981, ch. 197, § 3.

 

§ 20-16-15. Fur buyers--Records and reports

All licensed fur buyers shall keep records of purchase of furs within the state, which shall be open to the inspection by personnel of the department of environmental management at all times. A complete and accurate record of purchases within the state shall be furnished to the department upon request. Failure to do so within fourteen (14) days may be punishable by forfeiture of license and no future license shall be granted if, in the opinion of the director, information is being deliberately withheld.

P.L. 1981, ch. 197, § 3.

 

§ 20-16-16. Digging or smoking out animals--Use of probes

No person or persons shall remove or attempt to remove a live muskrat, raccoon, mink, otter, skunk, or fox from any hole in the ground, from any stone wall, from within any ledge or from under any stone, from any den or house, or from any hole in any log or tree by digging or smoking, or by probing with any wooden, metal or other device. No person shall set a trap within eight feet (8′) from a muskrat house. The provision of this section may be waived by the director on application by a landowner seeking to protect his or her property from nuisance fur-bearers.

P.L. 1981, ch. 197, § 3.

 

§ 20-16-17. Prohibition against hunting or killing otter

No person shall hunt, trap, take, or kill an otter in this state. Any person violating the provision of this section shall be guilty of a civil violation and be subject to a fine of one hundred dollars ($100) for each offense. Jurisdiction over violations of this section shall be with the traffic tribunal.

P.L. 1981, ch. 197, § 3; P.L. 2007, ch. 253, § 5, eff. Aug. 1, 2007; P.L. 2007, ch. 294, § 5, eff. Aug. 1, 2007.

 

§ 20-16-18. Unlawful possession or sale of fur-bearers

It is unlawful for any person to have in his or her possession any fur-bearer, or any part of a fur-bearer, unless it has been legally taken under the provisions of this chapter or chapter 17 of this title, or shall have been legally imported from another state or country. It is unlawful for any person at any time to sell or offer for sale any cottontail rabbit, varying hare, or gray squirrel, or any part thereof, excepting inedible parts such as heads, feet, hides, skins, or tails.

P.L. 1981, ch. 197, § 3.

 



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