Iowa’s furbearer seasons open statewide on Nov. 5 and for the 14,000 dedicated furharvesters, the outlook is good.

“We are expecting a good season because our wildlife surveys confirm larger populations of most furbearing animals, the crop harvest and tillage is well ahead of schedule which concentrates furbearers in the remaining areas of good habitat, and the weather forecast looks favorable,” said Vince Evelsizer, furbearer/wetlands biologist with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

Evelsizer said furharvesters will want to check water conditions if they plan to travel to other parts of the state from where they live because some areas of Iowa remain quite dry which can limit the number of areas trappers have to pursue muskrats and other species.

Evelsizer encourages trappers to consider walking or canoeing streams, ponds and river sections away from road bridges and road right-of-ways to avoid competition from other trappers.

“Remember to ask permission whenever that is needed for private ponds and along the smaller streams,” Evelsizer said.

Bobcats and Otters Must Be Reported

The 24 hour reporting requirement remains unchanged but the length of time to apply a CITES tag has been increased to allow seven days after the harvest is reported to DNR staff. Otter and bobcat harvest updates are available on the DNR website or from the harvest hotline 515-281-5918.

The bobcat harvest quota has been increased from 250 to 350 with a season limit of one per furharvester. The number of counties that are open for hunting and trapping bobcats remains unchanged from last year.

The river otter quota has been increased from 500 to 650 for this statewide season, with the season limit increased to three otters per licensed furharvester.

The DNR requires furharvesters to release all live bobcats or river otters captured more than 48 hours after the quotas are reached, which closes the seasons. Dead bobcats and river otters captured unintentionally after this 48-hour grace period must be turned over to a conservation officer. Trappers that turn their bobcats and otters over to a conservation officer after the seasons have closed will not be ticketed.

The biological information collected through this program is used to evaluate the seasons and monitor population trends. The cooperation and assistance of furharvesters in Iowa is critical to the sound biological management of these populations.

The current world economy makes the fur market unpredictable, however it does appear that pelt prices will either be similar to last year or higher. This year’s promising forecast provides a great opportunity to introduce someone new to the tradition of hunting and trapping these valuable renewable wildlife resources.

Changes to 2011-12 Furbearer Seasons

  • Beaver season was extended from April 1 to April 15.
  • The bobcat harvest quota increased from 250 to 350.
  • The otter harvest quota increased from 500 to 650 and bag/possession increased to three otters.

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