The dry conditions over much of Iowa will concentrate trappers near existing water when the Iowa furbearer hunting and trapping season begins on Nov. 3.
“About the only option for water trappers in central and northern Iowa are shallow lakes, deeper lake margins and major rivers,” said Vince Evelsizer, furbearer biologist for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. “Wetland conditions are better in southeast Iowa, with many having water and good aquatic vegetation.
“Right now, most of the crops are out and the weather looks decent for the first half of November so I’m expecting a good start to the furbearer season.”
Surveys of two of the higher profile furbearers in Iowa – bobcat and river otter – have indicated the species could support additional harvest.
The DNR increased the bobcat quota from 350 to 450 in the open zone, but kept the one bobcat per furharvester restriction, regardless if it was hunted or trapped. The river otter quota was raised to 850 this year, with licensed trappers allowed up to three otters.
Both species must be reported within 24 hours of harvest and a CITES tag applied within seven days after the harvest is reported to DNR staff.
“Trapping or hunting furbearers is a great way to enjoy the outdoors and is an extremely valuable tool for keeping populations of certain species, like raccoons, in check,” Evelsizer said.
Last year, a record 326,368 raccoons were harvested in Iowa and Evelsizer expects the harvest this year to be similar to slightly higher. He said the fur markets are dependent on the Asian and European economies but appear to be about the same as last year.
“Muskrat, wild mink and red fox may average a little higher price than last year, while raccoon and coyote prices look like they will be similar to last year. Prices for bobcats and otters look to remain quite good,” he said. “Time will tell and the market will likely change some during the season.”
Trapper numbers have increased more than 20 percent since 2009, from 14,000 to 17,000 last year.