Hunters and trappers are out in Iowa as the season for what are called “furbearers” opened Saturday. Iowa Department of Natural Resources biologist, Vince Evelsizer says Iowa’s raccoon population has rebounded from distemper, and it should be a good season for the animals. The respiratory virus, which is sometimes mistaken for rabies, took out a large number of the state’s raccoon population in 2011 and 2012.

“The distemper knocked them back in some places pretty, pretty hard. It seems like they responded this year by having pretty big litters and quite a few litters,” Evelsizer says. “So coon numbers appear to be up in most places in Iowa this year.” Evelsizer says trappers and hunters will likely see more coyotes and fewer red foxes this furbearer season as the coyotes are taking over red fox habitat.

“I think it’s good to have some harvest pressure in the form of coyote hunting and coyote trapping to just help to keep their numbers in check. And to keep them from being so bold and common with problems in urban areas, and around the outskirts of town, and in people’s backyards,” Evelsizer says.

He says while the fox population has suffered from mange, coyotes continue to be very adaptable. The furbearer seasons runs through January. Evelsizer recommends that pet owners be on the lookout for traps.