Iowa trappers can expect to find good numbers of furbearers available statewide when the season begins on Nov. 7.
“Our coyote numbers remain strong with a stable to slightly decreasing population,” said Vince Evelsizer, furbearer biologist with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.
Iowa’s red fox numbers didn’t show much movement in the annual survey but Evelsizer’s been getting a number of reports of increased local populations.
“Our raccoon population is high and I would encourage our furharvesters to take them even though their fur price is forecasted to be low,” he said.
The river otter population has trended upward in Iowa and that has translated to the quota for river otters increasing to three per licensed furharvester this year.
Iowa’s bobcat population continues to increase and expand, opening Boone and Webster counties this year to bobcat harvest.
Iowa’s bobcat harvest is divided into three zones – a three bobcat bag limit zone (southern Iowa), a one bobcat bag limit zone that Boone County and Webster County are now in, and a zone closed to bobcat harvest. Only one bobcat may come from the one bobcat zone regardless of the county in that zone it was taken from, the remaining cats must come from the three cat zone. No more than three bobcats total can be legally harvested by a furharvester this season.
Furharvesters are reminded of the requirement to contact a conservation officer within 24 hours of taking an otter or bobcat to receive a CITES tag. This is a change from the previous seven-day requirement. The CITES tag must remain with the animal until it is processed or sold.
The DNR will not be collecting bobcat and otter skulls and lower jaws this year for tooth aging purposes.
He said while Iowa’s muskrat population varies by region, their overall numbers are down this year following a trend that started in the early 1990s.
Overall, the wild fur market is weak again this year, which is similar to the last few years, but regardless of fur prices, Evelsizer encouraged trappers to take a beginner along to share the experience.
“It’s good to get out, spend some time with a youngster, enjoy trapping and pass along our knowledge,” he said. “If the weather forecast holds, it looks like it will be pretty nice for trapping, at least for the first few weeks.”
The Iowa DNR has a few trapping videos as part of its new Learn to Hunt Iowa Online Video Series at www.iowadnr.gov/learntohunt and will soon be posting a beginning trapper webinar that was recorded in mid-October.