Two decades ago, the river otter was extinct in the state of Indiana, but now the state has approved trapping 600 river otters per year to thin the population. By all accounts, the re-introduction of river otters to the state was a success for the state’s conservation efforts.
Ironically, it was trapping the animal for the fur trade that wiped out the otters’ population. By 1942, there were no river otters left in Indiana until the state approved the River Otter Reintroduction Program. Over 300 river otters from Louisiana were taken to Indiana from 1995 to 1999. As reported by Yahoo! News, the otters were released in 12 places at six watersheds. In addition, they were placed on the endangered species list so they could not be hunted.
The animals thrived in the state and, shortly after their reintroduction, they could be found in 80 percent of the state’s 92 counties. Within ten years, they were removed from the state’s endangered species list. As the population continued to thrive, Indiana’s Department of Natural Resources began fielding complaints about the otters. Some of the complaints were about the river otter eating fish from private ponds that had been stocked specifically for recreational fishing.
To help ensure that trapping doesn’t reduce the river otter population too much, the Indianapolis Star reported that wildlife officials plan to implement bag limits and monitoring programs to make sure the river otters are still able to thrive, but not continue to be nuisances.
Trappers will be limited to two otters per year and they would have a day to report their kills to state wildlife officials. There are approximately 5,500 licensed trappers in the state. Surrounding states have an otter trapping season and their otter populations are just fine. Trappers in Indiana can also trap muskrats, beavers, coyotes, foxes, raccoons, opossums, minks and skunks.
Sometimes, hunting or trapping animals becomes necessary when they become nuisances or dangerous to populated areas. As the Inquisitr reported, wild hogs in Florida have caused serious problems in suburban neighborhoods.
Trapping season for river otters would run from November 15 to March 15 and it would only be allowed in counties where the population is thriving, which for now is in 62 of the state’s counties. The Nature Conservancy, which owns several river otter habitats in Indiana hasn’t taken an official stance on the state allowing trapping again, but a spokesman’s for the group said they would not open up their lands for trapping.
[Image via mlenvironmental.org]