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Indiana River Otter Trapping Season FAQs

The river otter trapping season is from Nov. 15 through March 15 and only in counties open for harvest. A valid Indiana trapping license is required to set traps for river otters. An individual who sets a trap for river otter must be at least 10 years old, unless the individual has passed a state-certified trapper education course. The bag limit is two otters per trapper per season, and there is a statewide maximum of 600 otters for the season. If the 600 quota is reached prior to March 15, the season will close. View the current reported harvest.

I trapped a river otter. What do I do next?

You must register it with the DNR within 24 hours of trapping it by using the CheckIN Game system or call 1-800-419-1326 (a $3 fee applies if you call it in).

You must keep the confirmation number provided with the otter until you check-in the carcass and get a CITES tag from the DNR.

The hide and skinned carcass must be taken to a DNR check station or conservation officer within 15 days after the month of harvest (i.e., if you trapped an otter on November 2, you must turn in the carcass by December 15). At this time, DNR staff will attach a CITES tag (the tag needed to sell, gift, or transfer the river otter legally) to the otter pelt and collect the carcass for data collection. The pelt is yours to keep. Check stations are listed on the River Otter Trapping page

How will I know when the statewide quota has been reached?

  • Check the harvest counter.
  • Call (317) 232-4080 during normal business hours
  • Call (812) 837-9536 on holidays, weekends, and after normal business hours.

A news release will be sent out when the quota has been reached, and the website will be updated. Licensed trappers with emails on file in their customer account will also be sent an email.

I don’t want to skin the otter myself. Can I take my otter carcass to a taxidermist or fur buyer before turning in the carcass with DNR?

After reporting the otter the CheckIN Game system within 24 hours, you can have the taxidermist or fur buyer skin it for you – but only if you are present the entire time and then take the hide and skinned carcass to the DNR check station and get the CITES tag. You cannot gift, sell, or otherwise transfer the otter hide or carcass to anyone else until you take the carcass and hide to a DNR check station and get the CITES tag.

How do I store the hide until I turn it in?

If the hide is fully fleshed and dried it may be kept at room temperature. If it hasn’t been fleshed, keep it refrigerated or frozen. If frozen, make sure that the eye opening is accessible as that’s where the CITES tag is attached. Putting a stick or dowel rod through the eye before freezing will help ensure the eye is accessible.

Can I remove the scent glands of the otter before turning in the carcass?

Yes, if the intestines and gut cavity of the river otter remains intact and the reproductive tract of females remains undisturbed. Urine may be syringed out of the bladder, but the bladder must remain in the animal. Glands may be extracted if caution is used to not damage the parts of the otter needed for data.

Do I have to turn in the entire carcass?

Yes, you must turn in the entire carcass that is already skinned. Make sure the carcass is not destroyed or harmed before turning it in. The DNR will be examining the reproductive system and aging each otter to help determine the population size and set the quota and counties for trapping in future years.

Can I sell the hide of a river otter to a fur buyer?

Yes, after you register it, turn in the carcass, and get the CITES tag from the DNR, you may sell the pelt to a licensed fur buyer. You must have a license to buy raw fur in Indiana.

Can I have my otter hide mounted by a taxidermist? Can I remove the CITES tag?

Yes, you can keep the otter hide once it is registered, the carcass has been turned in at a DNR check station, and a CITES tag is attached to the hide. The CITES tag is required to sell the hide. It is recommended to leave the tag on if sending across state boundaries, such as to be tanned. This will reduce the likelihood of being investigated for illegal transport. Some tanneries out of state require a CITES tag be attached or they will not tan it. If you plan to tan the pelt, check with your tannery for their preference.

What if the season closes early and I check my trap within the next 48 hours and find an otter?

If you have not already reached your bag limit of 2 otters, then you must register it, check-in the skinned carcass, and get the CITES tag from the DNR. If you have already reached your bag limit of 2 otters this season, you must call the DNR right away at 812-837-9536 and turn the carcass in to the DNR; do not register the otter or check it in.

What if I trap an otter after the season closes (more than 48 hours after)?

If the otter is dead, call your local DNR Conservation Officer at 812-837-9536 to  turn in the carcass. If it’s alive, just release it at the location where it was captured as soon as you know an otter is caught in the trap. Do not register the otter or check it in.

Can I pick up a river otter that I find dead (on the road, etc.)? Can I sell a river otter that I find dead (on the road, etc.)?

Yes, you can pick up a river otter found dead, but you must get a permit from a Conservation Officer or DNR wildlife biologist to possess it. It should not be registered through the online or call-in systems and you cannot get a CITES tag for it. You can have it mounted by a taxidermist or tanned for your personal possession. Call a Conservation Officer at 812-837-9536 or a DNR wildlife biologist. You cannot sell a river otter you find dead. You can get a permit from a Conservation Officer or DNR wildlife biologist to possess it, but you cannot sell, barter, or trade the otter.

What traps are recommended for river otters?

Best Management Practices for trapping river otter are available.

These guidelines are national and not every trap may be legal to use in Indiana. See the Hunting & Trapping Guide for information on traps that are legal to use.

My child wants to try to trap an otter; how do I find out about trapper education classes?

Trapper education is required for any youth under age 10 that wants to trap a river otter. A list of trapper education classes are listed online at:

Click on "Indiana Trapper Education" in the bottom right corner.

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