Wildlife Laws & Regulations

State and federal laws and regulations protect wildlife in Massachusetts. Click below to learn more about how specific laws and regulations impact our wild neighbors. Additionally, find out more about the MSPCA’s advocacy efforts and how you can contribute to peaceful coexistence in Massachusetts and beyond.

General Wildlife Protection

Trapping Information

Hunting Information & Safety

Advocacy at the MSPCA


Click on the links below to view the full text of laws and regulations impacting wildlife in Massachusetts.


General Laws of Massachusetts (Chapter 131: Section 80A) – Leghold Traps and Certain Other Devices

Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife Regulations

Massachusetts Endangered Species Act

Massachusetts Wildlife Protection Act


Facts About Federal Wildlife Laws

Endangered Species Act

Lacey Act

Migratory Bird Treaty Act


Click on the links below to view the full text of trapping wildlife laws and regulations, and learn more about humanely preventing and addressing conflict with wildlife without trapping.

Massachusetts Trapping Information— 

General Laws of Massachusetts (Chapter 131: Section 80A) – Leghold Traps and Certain Other Devices

Department of Public Health’s Beaver Trapping Guidelines

Massachusetts Conservation Commission’s Guidance to State Trapping Law

Flowchart for Alleviating Beaver and Muskrat Conflicts

Beaver Information from MassWildife

Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection’s Standard Operating Procedure for Determining Beaver or Muskrat Threats to Public Water Supply

MSPCA’s Practical Solutions for Solving Human-Beaver Conflicts


Click on the links below to view the full text of hunting laws and regulations. Also, read our tips about how to safely enjoy the outdoors during hunting season.

Massachusetts Hunting and Freshwater Fishing Laws—DFW

Massachusetts Wildlife Management Areas—DFW

Massachusetts Guide to Hunting, Trapping and Fishing—DFW

Deer Hunting and Lyme Disease—MSPCA

Sunday Hunting Legislation—MSPCA

Blue Hills Deer Hunt—MSPCA

Enjoy the Outdoors Safely During Hunting Season

Hunting seasons span much of the year in Massachusetts and neighboring states, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy the great outdoors.

Practice Awareness
Be aware of the different hunting seasons in your area and know when you are in areas where hunting is allowed. If you are unsure which areas are open to hunting locally, click on the appropriate state at the bottom of this section for more information. Watch for posted areas that indicate that hunting is not allowed, but be aware that hunters may accidentally shoot into those areas from neighboring land where hunting is legal.

Do not let your dogs chase deer or other wildlife and be careful around beaver ponds and other areas where traps may be set. Body-gripping traps are still used with permits in limited circumstances in Massachusetts and can capture dogs and other companion animals. Hunting is not allowed on Sundays in Massachusetts, although pending legislation could change that. However, you should always be alert, especially if you’re near the border of a state that does allow hunting on Sundays.

Dress Appropriately
To increase your visibility to hunters in the field, wear bright orange clothing when hiking during hunting season and put bright orange collars and vests on your canine companions (or horses if you’re trail riding) to keep them safe, too.

Sharing the Outdoors
Even if you disagree with hunting, do not harass hunters if you meet them in the field. It is unsafe and illegal. If you find hunters behaving badly or doing something illegal, you can report them to the environmental police by calling 1-800-632-8075. View other resources.

Common Sense Tips
Practice common sense when outdoors and be prepared for changing weather and declining daylight by carrying extra clothing and a flashlight or headlamp. Know the area where you are traversing and stay on marked trail-ways. Additionally, bring a map and compass or GPS, and let someone know where you’re going and when you expect to return.

Click below for information on hunting seasons in New England and adjacent states:

Call Now Button

Stay up to date on animal issues

across the Commonwealth.