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Indiana River Otter Trapping Season FAQs

The 2018–2019 river otter trapping season is from Nov. 15, 2018 through March 15, 2019 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 (2) 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, 2019, the season will close. See www.wildlife.in.gov for more information.

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

You have to register it with the DNR within 24 hours of trapping it by going online at: http://www.in.gov/dnr/fishwild/8499.htm 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 it in November, 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. The check stations are listed online at: http://www.in.gov/dnr/fishwild/8499.htm. You can also call your DNR Conservation Officer at 812-837- 9536 to set up an appointment with your local officer.

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

Check the website daily at www.in.gov/dnr/fishwild/8499.htm.

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 also be updated.

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 on the department’s electronic harvest reporting 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?

Keep it refrigerated or frozen. If it is frozen, make sure that the eye opening is accessible as that’s where the CITES tag is attached.

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

Yes, as long as the guts 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. So 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. You need to make sure that 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.

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 outside the country, but it can be removed from the hide otherwise. It is recommended to leave the tag on if sending across state boundaries. 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 make arrangements 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. However, 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?

Nationally-recognized trapping methods for river otters can be found on-line. 

However, not all of these are legal to use in Indiana; see the Hunting & Trapping Guide on page 42 for information on traps that are legal to use at: http://www.in.gov/dnr/fishwild/2343.htm.

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

A list of trapper education classes are listed online at: www.passitonindiana.com

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