Otter, Bobcat Trapping Seasons Proposed

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Iowa wildlife officials feel populations of river otters and bobcats are now strong enough to support a limited harvest of the once-endangered furbearers. Public comment is being sought on the proposal, with a notice of intended action to go before the Natural Resource Commission in March. If approved, seasons would be established in the fall of 2006. Public comment is being accepted through the process, which seeks final approval by June.

The proposal comes as sightings of otters and bobcats, and incidental capture by fur harvesters, increase in Iowa. Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) furbearer biologist Ron Andrews says the bobcat population is growing at about seven percent a year. River otter numbers are increasing at six percent annually. Andrews anticipates a limited season with a specified zone for each of the species. The harvest would still allow population growth.

The DNR and Iowa State University are in the third year of an expected six year cooperative study, using radio transmitter collars in a nine-county area in south central Iowa to follow bobcats. At the same time, complaints are being fielded from pond owners and fisheries personnel about growing fish losses, due to increased otter populations.

For more information, contact Andrews at 641-357-3517.