Trapping of river otters now allowed in Illinois

River otter

After decades of being a protected species in Illinois, a new law is once again allowing the trapping of river otters.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources went to great lengths to reintroduce the animal to local waterways and that program has been deemed a major success.

Dean Gorgait has been with the Illinois DNR for more then 15 years and he said when the department began the process to reintroduce the river otter to Illinois waterways there were only about 100 of them left in the wild. But after years of being protected, the population has grown substantially reaching a point to where trapping is now going to be allowed.

"Quite a few years now we've been trying to build up an otter population and have been very successful in the state. They actually got to the numbers were they were becoming a nuisance to pond owners eating the fish out of their ponds and so we got to the point where we can now sustain a harvest without affecting the population," Gorgait said.

The last time trapping was legal in Illinois was when Franklin D. Roosevelt was president.

The population dwindled over the years because of many reasons and back in the mid to late 1980s DNR staff transported more then 300 otters from the state of Louisiana to repopulate the species back in Illinois and now they're ready to allow limited trapping of the animals.

"What it is, is that we want to get a handle on the harvest and by doing the registration of CITES tag. We have up to date information on how many are harvested and we know we can take that for sure without affecting the population," Gorgait said.

Gorgait also said a river otter pelt can go for up to $90.

You're only allowed to trap five of them per season and they have to be tagged within 48 hours after being trapped.

The otter trapping season in Illinois runs from early November to the end of March.

You can get more specific details about the season, rules and regulations at