Trapping Season Opens November 15
Trappers are reminded that the 2007-08 eastern coyote, gray fox, opossum, raccoon, red fox, skunk and weasel trapping season opens 6:00 AM on November 15. The mink, muskrat and nutria trapping season opens 6:00 AM on November 15 in the North Zone and 6:00 AM on December 1 in the South Zone. State wildlife management areas designated as Pheasant and Quail Stamp Areas will be closed to all trapping until 6:00 AM on January 1, 2008. Trappers should review current regulations, season exceptions and bag limits in the August issue of the New Jersey Fish and Wildlife Digest (page 64-65), available at license agents statewide and on the Division's website at www.njfishandwildlife.com/dighnt07.htm.
Modern, regulated trapping is used to manage habitat, monitor and control animal populations, protect and reintroduce endangered species, protect public and private property and conduct research, as well as a technique for sustainable, consumptive use of the wildlife resource. All trappers must be properly licensed and must have proof of successfully completing a Trapper Education Snaring Course, if using snares. Trappers at least 18 years of age and in possession of a valid rifle permit may carry a .22 caliber rifle with .22 caliber short rimfire cartridges to dispatch legally trapped animals (except muskrat).
Estimates from the 2006-07 New Jersey Trapper Harvest Survey (pdf, 67kb) indicated that 501 active trappers harvested 33,747 muskrat, 3,741 raccoons, 3,108 red fox, 164 gray fox, 813 opossum, 151 skunk, 981 mink, and 17 weasels. Trappers also reported harvesting 711 beaver (record), 42 river otter, 108 coyote (record) during the 2006-07 season. The total estimated value of fur harvest was $286,658 at the local level. For more information, contact Division biologist Andrew Burnett at 609-748-2058.
A Trapper Harvest Survey is sent to all known licensed trappers at the end of the trapping season (late March-early April). Recipients are asked to please complete and return the survey even if they did not actively trap during the year.
Populations of fur-bearing animals (beaver, coyote, gray fox, mink, muskrat, opossum, raccoon, red fox, river otter, skunk and weasel) remain at healthy levels throughout New Jersey.
A handful of unconfirmed nutria sightings have been received from Salem County, NJ opposite the Chesapeake-Delaware Canal. Nutria, an exotic species from South America, has not been documented in recent New Jersey harvests. Harvests have been reported in Maryland and some portions of Delaware. If you do harvest any nutria, please contact Andrew Burnett (609-748-2058).
Trapping for beaver and river otter are allowed by special permit only and the permit application period is October 1-31. Season dates are December 26, 2007 through February 9, 2008. State Wildlife Management Areas designated as Pheasant and Quail Stamp Areas will be closed to all trapping until 6:00 AM on January 1, 2008. Leftover permits, if available, will be sold at all license agents and at the Division's Internet license sales site. For updates on availability visit www.NJFishandWildlife.com or call the Permit Hotline at (609) 292-9192 during the week of November 20. All successful trappers (or their agents) must present their beaver/otter pelts at a designated check station for examination where pelt tags will be affixed, and otter carcasses collected for further analyses. The tentative date for check-in is Saturday, February 23, 2008. Additional information on check station location will be provided to all permit holders.
COYOTE / FOX
Coyote populations remain at a healthy level statewide. In 2005, the Fish and Game Council adopted several changes in New Jersey's cable restraint regulations (e.g., increased cable loop diameters, increased height above the walking surface, increased cable diameter). These changes were enacted primarily to increase the coyote harvest, and they have proven effective. Trappers have consistently harvested more coyotes each subsequent season (85 and 108 in 2005-06 and 2006-07, respectively) compared to the two previous years (59 and 46 in 2003-04 and 2004-05, respectively). Successful trappers are reminded that all coyote harvests must be reported to a regional Division Law Enforcement Office within 24 hours of capture.
Dr. Roland Kays (NY State Museum) has contacted the Division requesting specimens for a genetic study on coyotes in the northeast. Trappers interested in participating should contact Division coordinators Andrew Burnett at 609-748-2058 or Joseph Garris at 908-735-7040, or by e-mail at Andrew.Burnett@dep.state.nj.us or Joseph.Garris@dep.state.nj.us with 'NYSM Coyote' in the Subject box.
Harvest of red fox has remained stable over recent years and their population is presumed to be stable. Gray fox harvests have declined during the last ten years compared to previous decades. Reasons for the decline in harvest are not known, and could simply be there are fewer trappers targeting gray fox. Alternately, the harvest decline may be indicative of a decline in the gray fox population due to habitat loss or increased predation.
Fisher ranges have been expanding naturally or via re-introduction efforts throughout the northeastern United States. Fishers have been reported in New Jersey, but trappers are reminded there is no trapping season for fisher currently in New Jersey. Trappers capturing fisher incidentally to legal trapping are asked to call the DEP Action Line 1-877-WARNDEP (1-877-927-6337). (See www.njfishandwildlife.com/news/2007/fisher.htm for more information.) When prompted by the answering message, select '2' to report a 'non-emergency, wildlife problem'. DO NOT attempt to remove the animal or disturb the trap set for any reason.
Resource managers throughout the northeastern United States have noted a decline in recent muskrat harvests, compared to those of previous decades. Further study is needed to determine whether muskrat populations are declining and why, or if harvest declines are the result of reduced trapper effort (fewer active trappers, less traps used, less nights trapped). Although there is a relationship between harvest and pelt price (often involving a time lag), it doesn't appear that pelt price is a determining factor where muskrat is concerned. Muskrats are generally common in New Jersey, where they are considered our most important fur-bearer in terms of the number harvested and economic value.