First River Otter Trapping Season Starts Sunday

River-Otter-196x300River otters will be in season in Indiana for the first time in years starting this weekend.

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources says the otters were reintroduced about 20 years ago, but have been protected as a way to help grow their population. Biologists recently assessed that river otter numbers are sufficiently large to allow trapping.

Indiana Conservation Officer Keith Wildeman says there are indicators of strong population growth.

“Over the years, there have been a number of road kills, and a number of incidental trappings of otters that our biologists feel the numbers are there and the population of there that the trapping is warranted,” says Wildeman.

River otters are often trapped for their pelts, less so for their meat.

In 2015, a quota of 600 otters has been set. Only two otters may be caught per trapper. This year’s season will run alongside beaver trapping season – which begins on November 15th and runs until March 15th. The 600 otter quota could also put an earlier stop to the trapping season.

Wildeman says trappers are required to register their catches with the DNR check system within 24 hours.

“That is to know that we can keep track of the statewide quota of the season,” says Wildeman. “And then once that quota of 600 is reached, the season will close for trapping otters within 48 hours.”

Check-ins can be online, or by visiting a DNR representative. If incidentals are trapped following the end of the season, the carcass is expected to be turned over to the DNR for study. The pelts will receive a CITES tag for sale of the open market.

More can be found on DNR website. Wildeman says he wants to remind trappers that they need to seek permission before entering private property.