Otter, Bobcat, and Fisher Permit Deadline

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Trappers interested in participating in the otter, fisher or bobcat seasons in Wisconsin have until Sept. 10 to submit their permit applications for these species. Increased interest in these season, combined with conservative management strategies mean some trappers may receive preference points for permits in future years for fisher and bobcat, instead of a permit for this year, according to state wildlife officials.


Current statewide otter populations are at or slightly below management goals of approximately 13,000 animals, according to John Olson, furbearer ecologist for the Department of Natural Resources at Park Falls.

Otter permit levels will decrease slightly this year due increased success rates. However, applicants can expect to receive at least one permit and possibly additional permit(s) depending upon the number of applicants in the zone they choose.

Although a majority of the population is found in the north, otter numbers in central and southern Wisconsin appear to be increasing, Olson says. They are now present in many major river systems of the southwest, namely the Kickapoo, Black, Mississippi and Wisconsin rivers and tributaries.

The statewide opening date for otter trapping is Dec. 4, and continues until March 6, in the Central and South Zones, and April 30 in the North Zone.”


Strong interest in fisher by tribal and state trappers has resulted in more applicants than permits, especially in fisher management Zone A in northwestern Wisconsin, Olson said. Permit numbers are up slightly this year, but the number of permit applications received for each zone will determine whether a trapper receives a permit in their zone of choice or is awarded a preference point.

There are six fisher management zones in Wisconsin. Zones A through D have the highest fisher populations and are located in the northern portion of the state. Zone E is in west central Wisconsin and has a growing population. In Zone E, the best opportunities will be in the northern portions, namely Chippewa, Clark, Eau Claire and Marathon counties, according to John Dunn, wildlife biologist at Eau Claire. Zone F includes the remainder of the state and will be open for harvest in 2004 for the first time.

The statewide season runs from Nov. 1 to Dec. 31 for all zones with a bag limit of one fisher per permit.


Bobcat populations are slowly increasing across Wisconsin’s northern forest, with an estimated population of approximately 3,000 and an average annual harvest of around 220 to 250 animals, Olson says. Wildlife biologists in northern and central portions of the state report an increase in bobcat sightings.

A preference system allows the continuous applicant to receive a bobcat tag about once every four to five years, Olson said. The season runs Oct. 16 to Dec. 31.

As with fisher and otter, bobcat must be tagged at the point of harvest and registered with a conservation warden.