Just six days ago, the 2nd River Otter Season in 98 years opened in North Dakota. And just past Noon today, that season is now closed after reaching the 15 otter limit of one otter per trapper. The season was only open to North Dakota residents.
Prior to last season — the first in 97 years — the last time trapping was permitted for this semi-aquatic member of the weasel family was 1920. While it has been known for some time that the River Otter had returned to North Dakota, recent surveys showed that they had recolonized most areas of the state where they once lived in the past. Thus leading to the decision to open a season.
Stephanie Tucker, a furbearer biologist for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, said that the River Otter has inhabited the Red River Valley and its tributaries for about the last 15 years. With incidental trappings taking place each year anyhow, the department finally decided to open an official season last year and let trappers keep the pelts from the animals.
The River Otter marks yet one more species that has returned to the state. Mountain Lions and Fishers have also returned, only to have seasons opened on them as well. The first experimental season for Mountain Lions was in 2005 and for Fisher it was 2011.
The North Dakota Game & Fish Department mandates that “otters incidentally trapped after the close of the season must be reported to the Department within 12 hours and turned over to the Department.”