GFP Commission Finalizes Removal of River Otter from State Threatened List; Proposes Conservative Otter Trapping Season

May 14, 2020

PIERRE, S.D. – The Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) Commission finalized the action to remove the river otter from South Dakota’s list of threatened species at their May teleconference meeting.
Several factors have allowed river otter populations to rebound in South Dakota, including re-introductions, improvements in wetland and river habitat management, and protections through various laws.

GFP developed a species status review for river otters to provide strategic guidance for the recovery and sustained management of river otter. Part of the review includes recovery criteria, which provides guidelines for removing the river otter from the state threatened species list when appropriate.

The commission then introduced a proposal to establish a conservative river otter trapping season with the following rules:
1. Establish a trapping season that is open from sunrise on November 1 to sunset on December 31 in all counties of the state. 
2. Limit of one river otter per trapper per season. 
3. Statewide harvest limit of 15 river otters. Season will end prior to December 31 if the harvest limit is reached. 
4. Trapping season open to residents only with a furbearer license. 
5. A river otter shall be reported to the Department within 24 hours of harvest. At time of reporting, arrangements will be made to check in the carcass and detached pelt at a GFP office or designated location for registration and tagging of the pelt within 5 days of harvest. Additionally, once the season has closed (last day of season or harvest limit reached), a person has 24 hours to notify the Department of a harvested river otter. 
6. The pelt shall be removed from the carcass and the carcass shall be surrendered to the Department. After the pelt has been tagged, it shall be returned to the trapper. Upon request, the carcass may be returned to the trapper after the carcass has been inspected and biological data collected. 
7. Any river otter harvested after the 24-hour period following the close of the season, will be considered incidental take and shall be surrendered to the Department. 
8. A person may only possess, purchase or sell raw river otter pelts that are tagged through the eyeholes with the tag provided by the Department or if the river otter was harvested on tribal or trust land of an Indian reservation or another state and is properly and securely tagged with a tag supplied by the governmental entity issuing the license. 

Individuals can comment online at or mail comments to 523 E. Capitol Ave., Pierre, SD 57501.

To be included in the public record and to be considered by the commission, comments must include a full name and city of residence and meet the submission deadline of 72 hours before the public hearing (not including the day of the public hearing).

The next commission meeting will be held June 4 via teleconference.


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