Trapping season looking up


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Furbearer trapping seasons are here again, with the beaver, otter, muskrat and mink season opening last Friday and the bobcat, marten, fisher and wolverine season opening Dec. 1.

Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials say furbearer populations are up, with the exception of muskrat and mink numbers, which, based on FWP harvest surveys conducted after the 2001 season, appear to be down slightly.

"Bobcat populations around the state have increased in part because the rabbit populations have been booming," said Brian Giddings, FWP furbearer coordinator.

Giddings said thriving bobcat populations have made higher harvest quotas possible in Trapping District 4 around Great Falls and Trapping District 5 around Billings.

Giddings said trappers should be aware of two regulation changes:

Otter harvests are now managed under a new quota system. The trapping district will close when the quota is met. Trappers must personally report their otter harvest within 24 hours to the FWP regional office in the trapping district where the animal was taken so FWP can monitor the quota. The FWP offices are open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., or call (406) 449-1065 after- hours and on weekends. Pelts must be tagged within five days of the harvest.

The lynx, a federally protected, threatened species under the Endangered Species Act, cannot be trapped in Montana. If a lynx is accidentally captured and then released, trappers must report the occurrence to the FWP regional office in the area where the lynx was captured. This information will help FWP monitor the condition of the state's lynx population and improve management of the species.

The trapping regulations are available at all FWP regional offices and the Helena FWP headquarters office.


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