Tracking Regulations

Tracking Regulations

New York

In 1989 the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (D.E.C.) issued the official regulations to implement the Leashed Tracking Dog bill. These regulations specified that a test would be a requirement for receiving the Leashed Tracking Dog License. To apply for this license, contact the Division of Fish, Wildlife and Marine Resources Special Licenses Unit.

Special Licenses Unit
625 Broadway
Albany, NY 12233-4752
(518) 402-8985

Leashed tracking dogs in New York State are required to be licensed by the State Department of Agriculture and Markets. More info is available here.


Vermont’s regulations for leashed tracking dogs were closely modeled after those of New York. Information on licensing can be obtained by writing: Agency of Natural Resources, Fish and Wildlife Department, 103 South Main Street (10 South), Waterbury, VT 05671-0501. Telephone: 802-241-3700.

In both New York State and Vermont the following regulations apply: Licensed dog handlers are authorized to track wounded deer and bear during the day or at night with an artificial light. Dogs must be leashed at all times. Animals judged unlikely to survive are to be humanely dispatched (See detailed regulations for use of firearms). Before each attempt to track a wounded deer or bear the handler must notify the local Conservation Officer. It is strongly recommended that other local law enforcement agencies be notified as well.


In Maine rules are modeled on similar programs in New York and Vermont. A special license is required to assist hunters in finding wounded or dead deer. Those who charge a fee for the service will have to also be licensed guides, although anyone who obtains the dog tracking license can provide the service if no fee is charged.


In Wisconsin wounded deer are tracked under arrangements made with the local conservation officers. It is definitely not permitted to use firearms or a bow to dispatch wounded deer after dark. Wisconsin residents should contact their local conservation officers for more information.


Michigan has also announced legalization of leashed tracking dogs. A special license is not required. The dog must be kept on a leash and no one in attendance can possess a firearm or bow and arrow. If the tracking is done at night, a light of the type ordinarily carried in the hand may be used (e.g. flashlight, lantern). A dog that barks while tracking the deer cannot be used on public lands


In Indiana dogs may be used while on a leash only to track or trail wounded game. No special license is required.


In Texas it is permitted to use up to two dogs to track wounded deer in certain counties. A deer hunting license is required, but no other special license. The dogs may be worked off lead. For more information contact the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department at 1-800-792-1112 Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.

British Columbia

For residents of the Canadian Province of British Columbia it is possible to track wounded deer, elk, moose, bighorn sheep, and mountain goats with leashed tracking dogs as a legal activity authorized by the appropriate hunting licenses and permits.

The use of tracking dogs is generally permitted in those states or counties where the use of dogs to drive deer to hunters is permitted. This includes substantial parts of the South. In most states it is worth exploring the possibilities of tracking by calling your local conservation officer. This officer may refer you higher up the chain of command.

Maryland, Alaska, Kentucky, Illinois, Ohio

In recent years other states started to allow the use of tracking dogs. It is legal to use tracking dogs in Maryland, Alaska, Kentucky, Illinois, Ohio. Check your local regulations.

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