COVID-19: Changes to Hunting & Fishing Regulations
As states scramble to slow the spread of COVID-19 and enact a wide range of regulations to enforce social distance, many hunters, anglers, and outdoor recreators are left wondering what they’re allowed to do. We want to help keep everyone informed, safe, legal, and, whenever possible, outside. Below you’ll find regular updates to regulations and rule changes that impact hunters, anglers, and public land recreators. While we can’t promise that this list will cover every single rule change around the country in real time, we’ll do our best to keep it current and accurate. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you know of a regulation change that we’re missing.
- June 1, Montana: The state’s travel ban expires, meaning that hunters and anglers traveling from out of state are no longer required to quarantine for 14 days and may gather in groups of 50 or fewer.
- May 22, Kentucky: The state’s travel ban expires, meaning that hunters and anglers traveling from out of state are no longer required to quarantine for 14 days and may gather in groups of 10 or fewer.
- May 14, Idaho: Starting May 15, Idaho Fish and Game resumes the sale of all nonresident hunting and fishing licenses, permits, and tags.
- May 13, Louisiana: Starting May 18, all Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries offices will re-open.
- May 10, Florida: Some state shooting ranges reopen on a limited basis. Details in source link.
- May 7, Michigan: Fishing charters and guides may once again operate in Michigan so long as they follow protocols to prevent virus transmission.
- May 7, Maryland: Recreational fishing and hunting reopens in Maryland, but social distancing guidelines remain in place.
- May 6, Georgia: Beaches in Georgia reopen for fishing and recreating, but social distancing rules are still being enforced.
- May 5, Oregon: Non-resident hunting and fishing reopens in Oregon. Fishing also re-opens on the Columbia River.
- May 4, North Dakota: North Dakota Game and Fish announced that they will hold a one week snag and release paddlefish season May 15-21.
- April 30, Alabama: Beaches in Alabama reopen for fishing and recreating, but social distancing rules are still being enforced.
- April 29, New Jersey: Starting at 6:00 a.m. May 2, All state parks and forests reopen to “passive recreation,” that includes fishing and hunting.
- April 27, Washington: Starting May 5, Washington will begin to reopen hunting and fishing. Turkey and spring bear will open May 5, as will all freshwater fishing and some saltwater fishing and shellfishing. Hunters and anglers are asked not to travel outside their local areas. See source link for further details.
- April 27, Pennsylvania: Starting May 1, Pennsylvania will reopen marinas and allow guided fishing trips again. Private campgrounds will also reopen. State parks and public campgrounds remain closed.
- April 24, Michigan: The Governor revised the stay at home order to once again allow motorize boat usage and travel.
- April 24, Illinois: Starting May 1, Illinois will begin opening up select state parks See source link below for a complete list of parks scheduled to reopen.
- April 21, Maine: Maine turkey season will open two days early, on May 2 instead of May 4. The planned single day youth season has also changed, moving up from May 2 to April 25 and adding a second day, April 27. Additionally, successful turkey hunters will not be required to register their birds at tagging stations, as is usually the rule. Season limits still apply and these changes are just for this season.
- April 21, New Hampshire: Successful New Hampshire turkey hunters are encouraged to register their harvested birds online this season instead of at the usual check stations. Some physical check stations will still be open this season, and hunters have the option of registering there, though the number of operating check stations will be lower than in normal years. For a list of stations, see source link. Turkey season will open on the planned date of May 1 and hunters are still required to register their birds within 24 hours of harvest either online or in person.
- April 19, New York: Public boat launches and marinas have been re-opened as part of the state government’s revised guidance on essential businesses.
- April 17, Mississippi: All state parks and state lakes will reopen starting April 20.
- April 16, New York: All public boat launches are closed until further notice.
- April 15, Wyoming: Sale of nonresident fishing licenses has been suspended until April 30, at the earliest.
- April 10, Michigan: The governor’s Stay at Home Order has been extended to include all motorized boat travel. No motorized boats may be used, including electric trolling motors, until May 1 at the earliest.
- April 10, Kansas: All nonresident turkey license sales have been suspended. Nonresident turkey hunters who have already purchased tags can hunt, but if they are from states on Kansas Department of Health and Environment’s “Travel Quarantine List,” they must quarantine for 14 days after arriving in the state. Full list of those states in source link.
- April 9, Oregon: ODFW is shutting down all non-resident hunting, fishing, crabbing, and clamming effective tomorrow, April 10 at midnight. All nonresident hunters can return their tags for full refunds of money and preference points.
- April 9, Wisconsin: Governor Evers directed the Wisconsin DNR to shut down nearly 40 state parks, primarily in the southern part of the state, effective tomorrow, April 10. Hunting and fishing regulations remain unchanged. See source link for a detailed list of park closures.
- April 9, Montana: Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks has suspended all spring nonresident turkey and black bear hunting until April 24, at the earliest. All nonresident hunters can return their tags for full refunds.
- April 8, Montana: Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks decided to cancel the paddlefish season on the Lower Missouri and Yellowstone rivers. These sections account for nearly 93% of all paddlefish angling in the state. The Upper Missouri, special draw section is expected to open as planned.
- April 8, Maryland: Maryland’s DNR recently interpreted governor Hogan’s Stay at Home Order to include recreational fishing. According to today’s press release, “Limited fishing is allowed only if you are seeking food for you or your family.” Today’s update also states that, “Limited hunting is allowed if you are seeking food for you or your family.” We’re not sure how one goes hunting without seeking food.
- April 7, New Jersey: Starting at 8:00 p.m. all county parks, state parks, and state forests are closed until further notice. Fishing and hunting seasons remain open and unchanged.
- April 7, Texas: Starting at 5:00 p.m., all state parks will be closed until further notice. Fishing and hunting seasons remain open and unchanged.
- April 7, Pennsylvania: Without any prior notice, PA opened up trout fishing season this morning, 11 days ahead of schedule. License requirements and bag limits remain unchanged.
- April 6, Washington: Spring bear and turkey hunting seasons are postponed until May 4, at the earliest.
- April 6, Ohio: All nonresident hunting and fishing license sales for the 2020 season have been suspended. Nonresident hunters or anglers who have already purchased their tags and licenses are still allowed to hunt or fish, but they must self-quarantine for a minimum of 14 days after traveling to the state.
- April 4, Idaho: Many nonresident hunting and fishing license sales have been suspended until further notice. Nonresidents tags purchased before the suspension remain valid. For a full list of which nonresident licenses are affected by this suspension see source link.
- April 3, Kentucky: All nonresident turkey license sales for the 2020 season have been suspended. Nonresident hunters who have already purchased their tags are still allowed to hunt, but they must self-quarantine for a minimum of 14 days after traveling to the state.
- April 3, Rhode Island: All state parks and beaches are closed until further notice.
- April 3, North Dakota: The 2020 paddlefish snagging and harvest season, set to begin March 1, has been canceled. The snag and release paddlefish season, scheduled for May 15-21, has not been canceled yet.
- April 3, Mississippi: Starting at 5:00 p.m., all state parks and state lakes will be closed until further notice. Fishing and hunting seasons remain open and unchanged, but state-owned lands and waters are closed. Wildlife Management Areas remain open.
- April 2, Alaska: After the Alaska Division of Wildlife Conservation closed all bear hunting for both residents as well as non-residents on April 1, they reversed their decision the following day in the wake of massive public outcry. Non-resident bear hunting remains closed until at least May 31, but resident sport and subsistence hunts are now unchanged.
- April 2, Arizona: Grand Canyon National Park is closed until further notice.
- April 1, California: California’s recreational ocean salmon fishing season has been delayed. The season was scheduled to begin as early as April 4th in some parts of the state but will now be halted until at least May 1.
- April 1, New Jersey: Trout season opens today, ten days ahead of schedule.
- March 31, Wyoming: Registration of new bear baiting sites was supposed to start tomorrow, April 1. Wyoming Fish and Game are working to come up with new procedures that would not require registrants to come in to offices to register bear baiting sites. They will release the new procedures on their website April 15.
- March 31, Nebraska: Non-resident turkey tag sales have been suspended. Resident tag sales remain unchanged. Non-residents who have already purchased tags are still allowed to use them.
- March 30, Washington: The six game management units scheduled to begin spring bear hunting on April 1st will not open. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife will re-assess opening hunting seasons on April 6. The youth spring turkey season scheduled for April 4-5 has been canceled.
- March 30, South Carolina: All South Carolina Department of Natural Resources lottery turkey hunts on WMAs have been canceled.
- March 30, North Carolina: Some State Parks and associated game lands and boat ramps are closed to public access. Details in source link.
- March 28, Utah: Arches and Canyonlands National Parks closed until further notice..
- March 27, Montana: Glacier National Park closed until further notice.
- March 27, West Virginia: Governor Justice temporarily suspended fishing license requirements in West Virginia. Fishing is open to the public with or without a fishing license until April 24. Bag and harvest limits still apply.
- March 26, Michigan: Michigan DNR suspended all charter fishing and guide operations until April 13th, at the earliest.
- March 26, Oregon: As of Midnight, the Columbia River closed to all salmon and steelhead fishing. Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife closed the fishery in order to maintain solidarity with the State of Washington, as the two states share this fishery.
- March 26, Maine: Certain state parks are closed to the public until further notice. Specific list available in source link.
- March 25, Washington: As of midnight, all recreational fishing and shellfish harvesting is closed in Washington State until at least 5 p.m. on April 8.
- March 25, Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho: Yellowstone National Park closed until further notice.
- March 24, Wyoming: Grand Teton National Park closed until further notice.
- March 24, Washington: All state parks and wildlife areas are closed until further notice.
- March 24, Missouri: The state is suspending all fishing license requirements from March 27 through April 15. Harvest and bag limits still apply.
- March 24, Connecticut: Governor Lamont issued an executive order opening fishing on lakes, rivers, and streams across the state, one week earlier than planned.
- March 24, Wisconsin: Wisconsin DNR is currently waiving all fees for state parks and trails. Though the state is under a shelter in place order, that order recognizes outdoor activity as essential.
- March 23, Florida: All state parks are closed until further notice.
- March 23, Oregon: All state parks are closed until further notice.
- March 20, Colorado: Rocky Mountain National Park is closed until further notice.
- March 20, Maine: Maine’s inland fishing season opened March 13. The season normally opens April 1, but Governor Mills decided to open it early. Maine is also allowing anglers to fish until May 1 without purchasing a fishing license. Bag and harvest limits still apply.
- March 16, Pennsylvania: Trout opener will now occur statewide on April 18. This year, Pennsylvania will not have separate opening days for trout in different parts of the state.
- March 15, New Mexico: All state parks are closed until at least April 9.
- March 15, Illinois: All state parks are closed until further notice.
- March 9, Florida: Governor DeSantis issued an executive order requiring all recreational boats to remain at least 50 feet apart.