Jan. 31, 2013

Second modern otter trapping season similar to first

EMPORIA ­– Kansas furharvesters have taken the season quota on river otters before the official end of the otter trapping season. The quota for 2012-2013 was met on Jan. 25. Trappers were allowed a grace period for notification that the quota was met, so all otters taken on or before Jan. 28 may be kept by furharvesters.

The 2012-2013 season was set for Nov. 14, 2012-March 31, 2013, or until 100 otters were taken. Trappers are limited to two otters per season and are required to report otters taken to KDWPT within 24 hours through a toll-free number. The pelt and skinned carcasses must be brought to KDWPT for tagging within four days of harvest. Skinned carcasses, including skulls, are retained by KDWPT so that age, reproductive output and other biological information can be determined.

Otters, once common along Kansas waterways, were extirpated by the turn of the century due to unregulated trapping and development. A modest reintroduction program relocated wild otters into Kansas in the early 1980s, and the population began recovering slowly. In recent years, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) biologists have monitored a healthy and growing population, so much so that a limited-quota trapping season was implemented in 2011-2012.

During the first otter trapping season in modern history, which ran Nov. 16, 2011-March 31, 2012, trappers were limited to two otters each, or until the statewide trapping quota of 100 otters was met. Last season, that quota was met on February 2.

Otters accidentally taken while trapping for other species after Jan. 28 must be reported to KDPWT prior to removal from the trap site. They may be reported to the toll free hotline at (855) 778-6887 (RPT-OTTR) or to a local KDWPT natural resource officer or biologist. Inadvertent capture of otters shall not be deemed illegal if the capture is reported or if the animal is released unharmed. For more information, phone Matt Peek at 620-342-0658.