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River Otter Trapping

2012-2013 marked the first Illinois trapping season for river otters since 1929. This success story was made possible by restoration efforts in Illinois and other states in the lower Midwest. Federal laws require each otter pelt to be tagged before it is sold, which will be new to most Illinois trappers. A simple and convenient system has been set up.

Getting Started:

  • Illinois DNR License Sales Site

  • License and Permit Vendors​

  • Season Dates - The otter season is the same as the beaver season (November 10 - March 31)

  • Otter Registration Permit - Trappers must purchase an Otter Registration Permit within 48 hours after harvesting a river otter. The cost of a permit is $5 plus a vendor’s fee. The otter pelt permit will be available over-the-counter (OTC) from license and permit vendors, by phone at 1-866-716-6550, or online​. You will be mailed an official CITES pelt tag within 2-3 weeks after purchasing a permit. NOTE: Do not purchase a permit before you harvest an otter.

  • Otter Tagging Requirement - An official CITES tag must be permanently affixed to the green hide of each otter (including a whole, un-skinned carcass) before it is exported outside the United States or transferred to a fur buyer, fur tanner, taxidermist or manufacturer (a manufacturer is an individual who dresses and fabricates green hides into fur garments or products).

  • Frequently Asked Questions. This link will take you to the Hunting and Trapping Digest. When the document opens, simply scroll down to page 45 to the Furbearer Trapping and Hunting section.

If you have additional inquiries, please send us an email.

River Otter Videos

Below are just a few Illinois Department of Natural Resources River Otter Videos. There are many more IDNR videos available.

Click on the title (top strip) to watch in full screen view.

Handling & Tagging Otters:

Handling Otter Pelts:

Stretching an Otter:

Foothold Trap Sets for Otter:

Fleshing an Otter: