The Natural Resources Commission approved a limited trapping season for the North American river otter in Indiana. The Department of Natural Resources recommended the limited season after receiving nuisance complaints about the once extinct animal in the state.
If approved by the attorney general’s office and the governor’s office, the trapping season would begin this fall and run from November 15 – March 15. Licensed trappers would be eligible to take two otters per season in any of the 66 counties that are along the waterways where the otters were reintroduced in the mid to late nineties. DNR placed a limit of 600 otters to be trapped per season.
The river otter was trapped to the point of extinction in Indiana and several other states by the 1940s. The Department of Natural Resources began an effort to reintroduce the species in 1995 and released over 300 otters in the state over a five-year period. The program was successful and the river otter was taken off the state’s endangered list in 2005.
While DNR officials say the trapping season is necessary to maintain the population and keep the otters from being a nuisance, animal rights activists say it’s all about the money the state will make from licensing fees. Those fees are used to help fund DNR’s operations.
There is also money to be made from the otters themselves. The trapping season regulations also permit the sale of the skins of legally trapped otters as well as squirrels. According to a quick Internet search, squirrel pelts are worth $10 - $15 on the open market. The retail value of otter pelts is $100 - $300.