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Iowa fur harvesters will find good numbers of raccoons, muskrats, beaver, coyotes, bobcats, river otters and mink when the furbearer trapping and hunting season opens on Nov. 5.
“Population-wise, all species are doing pretty well except for gray fox,” said Vince Evelsizer, furbearer biologist for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.
Trappers who like to pursue muskrats should find better numbers on area marshes this year. All indications show better muskrat numbers in many parts of the state for the second year in a row, which is great news, he said.
“It’s still not what is used to be in some areas, but definitely an improvement. Muskrats are a bread-and-butter species for Iowa trappers, but the population has been on a downward trend for the past 25 years or so. So it’s good to see their numbers rebound some,” Evelsizer said.
What hasn’t come back is the fur market outlook – fur prices remain low.
The number of fur harvesters fluctuates with the market prices and for the third year in a row, the fur market outlook is poor. “We gained about 2,000 furharvesters per year from 2009 through 2013, and then lost about 2,000 furharvesters per year from 2014 through 2015,” said Evelsizer. He expects the decrease in trappers to continue for the 2016-17 season.
“This is a good year to spend time with youth or older adults trapping, coon hunting, or predator hunting. It’s a great way to spend time together in the outdoors, regardless of the fur market,” he said.
“On the positive side, we are still one of the top five states in the nation for the number of furharvesters per capita.”
Furharvesters are no longer required to obtain a permit to hold furs for sale after the season closes on Jan. 31, 2017.
Otter, Bobcat Reminder
Furharvesters are reminded that it is important that they turn in the lower jaw or skull of any otter and bobcat they harvest.
“This enables us to extract a tooth for aging and monitor the age distribution of otters and bobcats. This information helps assess the feasibility of possible changes to the otter or bobcat harvest season,” said Evelsizer.
A map of the counties open to bobcat harvest is on p. 20 in the Iowa Hunting and Trapping Regulations book available at license vendors and on the Iowa DNR’s website at www.iowadnr.gov/huntingregs
Gray Fox Study
Iowa is participating in an ongoing Midwest gray fox DNA tissue study by working with trappers to collect tissue samples used for genetic information.
“Iowa’s gray fox numbers have declined over the past ten years. Southeast Iowa has the highest population but there are small pockets of gray fox throughout the state,” Evelsizer said.
Trappers who catch a gray fox can contact Evelsizer at 641-357-3517 or their local DNR biologist or conservation officer.
Media Contact: Vince Evelsizer, Furbearer Biologist, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, 641-357-3517