River otter taken off South Dakota list of threatened species, offered for limited trapping

Capitol News Bureau
KELO Game Fish and Parks Department

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — North American river otters won’t be on South Dakota’s list of threatened species any longer, the state Game, Fish and Parks Commission decided Thursday.

Commissioners agreed 8-0 with the recommendation (page 59) from the state Game, Fish and Parks Department. They also voted 8-0 to allow trapping of river otters.

Earlier the commission held a public hearing that drew people opposed to the change. One man called it “insane.”

Several people said the populations — estimated in the 40s in recent years — were too sparse to allow de-listing.

The commission agreed to let trappers to take 15 river otters (page 46), with one apiece per licensed resident trapper per season.

State wildlife program administrator Chad Switzer said “a lot of staff time” went into the proposal. He said any trapper who caught more than one otter would have to surrender it to GFP. The same would apply to any trapper who caught an otter after the season closed, he said.

Switzer said otter trapping would run similar to South Dakota’s hunting season for mountain lions.

Commissioner Travis Bies asked why trapping would be open statewide when more than half have been seen in Grant, Roberts and Moody Counties.

Bies said trapping would make re-population difficult in other areas.

State Wildlife Division director Tom Kirschenmann said a re-population effort would mean more discussion “should we go down that path.”

Commissioner Doug Sharp of Watertown said it would work best the first year if the take was limited to 15.

Commissioner Mary Ann Boyd of Yankton said the limit of 15 statewide would be a balanced approach.

KELOLAND News had two stories in February on the river otter population in the state. River otters were spotted near the Big Sioux River near Sioux Falls.

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