Trapping Season Opens November 15
The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Division of Fish and Wildlife reminds trappers that the 2008-09 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, 2009. Trappers should review current regulations, season exceptions and bag limits in the August issue of the New Jersey Fish and Wildlife Digest (page 67-68), available at license agents statewide and on the Division's website at www.njfishandwildlife.com/dighnt08.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, and is a technique for sustainable, consumptive use of the wildlife resource. All trappers must be properly licensed and, if using snares, must have proof of successfully completing a Trapper Education Snaring Course. 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).
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 throughout the state over the last 12 months. Every attempt was made to visit each sight or determine the species encountered based on photographs provided by the informant. In no instance was the presence of nutria confirmed. Most of the animals encountered were either muskrats or river otter. 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 at 609-748-2058.
Throughout the northeastern United States fisher have been expanding their range naturally or via re-introduction efforts. Fisher have been reported in New Jersey, but trappers are reminded there is no trapping season for fisher currently in New Jersey. Trappers who incidentally capture a fisher while legally trapping other species are asked to call the DEP Action Line 1-877-WARNDEP (1-877-927-7337). 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.
Trapping is allowed for beaver and river otter by special permit only. Season dates are December 26 through February 9. State Wildlife Management Areas designated as Pheasant and Quail Stamp Areas will be closed to all trapping until 6:00 AM on January 1. Leftover permits, if available, will be sold at all license agents and at the Division's Internet license sales site. For updates on availability check the Division's Web site 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 21, 2009. 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; 108; and 90 in 2005-06, 2006-07 and 2007-08, respectively) compared to the three previous years (31; 59; and 46 in 2002-03, 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.
Harvest of red fox has remained stable over recent years. Their population is also 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.
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 for some species, it doesn't appear that pelt price is a determining factor where muskrat is concerned. Division staff will collect age and sex data from muskrat pelts prior to fur auction sales. 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.