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Tips to Avoid Non-Target Catch of Otter

You may set a trap on or near (within 15 feet of) a beaver dam ONLY under these conditions:

  • You are trapping during an OPEN otter season.
  • If the otter season is CLOSED, you may use these traps:
    • Body-gripping trap that measures less than 5.5 inches.
    • Foot encapsulating trap.
    • Foothold traps that are 4¾ inches or less.
    • Cage or box traps.

By limiting the trap sizes that are usable on beaver dams, this regulation provides greater opportunities for trappers while minimizing the accidental capture of otter. Continuing communications, improved regulations, and trapper education will help trappers to become better at targeting beaver. It will also improve the ability of DEC to manage both beaver and otter populations.

The following methods should be used to reduce the risk of catching an otter where otter seasons are closed.

  • Be alert for otter sign, toilets, and play areas.
  • To catch beaver through ice, use baited sets or set the feed pile.
  • For open water, use castor mound or set feed trails leading to the bank.
  • In deep channel sets, use a floating dive pole. Place top of trap at least 18" below dive pole. Most otter will dive between the pole and trap, while beaver normally go to the bottom.
  • Catch most of the beaver in an area quickly and move out before an otter passes through.
  • Place trigger off to one side when using body gripping trap. If you have the option, use 330s rather than 220s.
  • When trapping raccoon and mink along water being used by otter, set small footholds and carry release equipment.

  • Contact for this Page
    Bureau of Wildlife
    625 Broadway
    Albany, NY 12233-4755
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