Iowa trappers will be able to start taking otters from the state’s waterways Saturday (November 4th) for the first time since the 1800’s when the animals disappeared. Ron Andrews of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources says the otter season is the culmination of the program to reintroduce the animals that started in 1985.
Andrews says Iowa traded wild turkeys to Kentucky, and Kentucky in turn got river otters from Louisiana. Those otters were used to rebuild the otter population in Iowa to a new estimate of some seven thousand animals.
Andrews says creating a new season for hunters or trappers in the state is something that’s pretty rare. He says this will be the first new season in 32 years when the wild turkey season was started in 1974. Andrews says there’ll be a 400 otter limit on this season — and he expects trappers to meet the quota. Andrews says the animals will be a novelty for awhile and he doesn’t expect it to be very hard to get to 400. Andrews says even with trappers taking 400 otters, the animal’s population will continue to grow.
Andrews says the otter pelts have to be specially marked because they’re similar to otters from the ocean. He says there is a market for the otter pelts, but isn’t sure how much they’ll pay. Andrews says it’s anyone’s guess how much the otter pelts will bring, but he guesses it’ll be between 50 and 100 dollars a hide. Andrews says there isn’t any one big otter territory.
Andrews says otters can be found across the state. He says river valley corridors may be a little more favorable, but Andrews says otters can even be found in the open areas of north Iowa. Andrews says trappers will be limited to two otters during the season, which he says will run through January 31st, or until the quota of 400 has been reached.