Indiana’s first otter trapping season in nearly a century is set to close tomorrow. Hunters already reached the statewide quota of 600 though so the DNR ended the season early.
River otters disappeared from Indiana in the 1920s because of over-trapping. They were reintroduced in the 1990s and the population has exploded. DNR officials say trapping is a tried and true method of controlling the animal population.
In a media release, the DNR called the trapping season a success and said the agency planned to review data from the harvest and use that information to, “guide future management decisions.”
Original Story, Jan. 25, 2016
Deric Beroshok is a river trapper. He has been one since the age of 14. Now, Beroshok is a director of the Indiana State Trapping Association, as well as the owner of Wildlife Control Services, a company specializing in the removal and relocation of nuisance wildlife.
Beroshok has dealt with a variety of animals, from coyotes to groundhogs to beavers. But while on a call for a beaver in summer 2014, Beroshok trapped something unexpected – a river otter.
“I was on a complaint that the beaver was jamming up the drainage ditch, like what we got right out here,” Beroshok says. “And I set a trap strictly for beaver, but an otter went through there, and I got him caught.”
River otters disappeared in Indiana in the 1920’s, a result of over-trapping. A coordinated effort from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources and the state trapping association in the 1990’s brought otters from Louisiana back to Northern and Southern Indiana.
Since the reintroduction, the population has exploded, prompting the need for recreational trapping to maintain the population. For the first time in nearly a century, the DNR is allowing the limited trapping of river otters in the state, allowing up to 600 total otters to be trapped across 66 counties.
It’s already halfway through the four month season, and approximately 470 otters have been trapped. The season will stop once trappers reach the state’s quota of 600.
The DNR has faced strong opposition from groups like the Humane Society, who argue that trapping of any animal is inhumane, and have suggested other means of dealing with overpopulation, including educating the public. But the DNR maintains that trapping is a tried and true method of controlling animal population.
“People think these trappers out here, ‘You guys are big mean guys, you’re out here killing these animals,'” Beroshok says. “I guarantee you getting caught in a body gripping trap is a lot better than dying from mange.”
As for the future of trapping in the state, Johnson says potential changes in the scale of river otter trapping likely won’t take effect within the next 3 years.
“The plan is to collect this biological data and keep the quota as is for 3 years – let that information guide where we go with the otter program, whether we increase or decrease bag limit, open or close counties,” says Johnson.
How to trap a river otter: