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2013 Hunting Outlook - Furbearers

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FURBEARERS

 For season details, refer to the North Dakota Game and Fish Department website, gf.nd.gov, or the 2013-14 furbearer hunting and trapping guide.

Spring surveys indicate coyote, raccoon and skunk numbers increased statewide from 2012, with coyotes and skunks experiencing the largest increases in central North Dakota and raccoons increasing more dramatically in the eastern part of the state.

Numbers of all three species remain well above their long-term averages. Additionally, badgers remain relatively abundant statewide, with the higher numbers also in eastern North Dakota.

After experiencing the highest muskrat numbers in a decade during 2010-11, surveys show the population has now crashed statewide and is currently 84 percent below the 20-year average. Trappers and hunters were already feeling the effects of a declining population last season when the number of muskrats harvested was down 57 percent compared to the previous season. However, a late spring thaw may have contributed to some of the harvest decline.

Survey results are mixed for beavers, fox and mink depending on the region. All three furbearers are well below their long-term averages, although fox numbers are higher than in recent years. Central North Dakota has the largest numbers of these species.

Trappers and hunters harvested 55 bobcats, and hunters took 14 mountain lions last season, which was down 26 percent and 18 percent, respectively, compared to the previous season. Data and research suggests mountain lion numbers peaked in 2011-12, with fewer on the landscape this coming season.

Trappers will continue to have an opportunity to capture a fisher in eastern North Dakota this fall. The Game and Fish Department removed the trapping quota for fishers this year, instead establishing a one-week season, with the bag limit still one fisher per trapper.

Hunters and trappers are reminded to review regulations and practice good hunter and trapper ethics while enjoying the pursuit of North Dakota furbearers.


Mountain Lions

Zone 1 (early) Opens: Aug. 30

Closes: Nov. 24

Zone 1 (late) Opens: Nov. 25

Closes: March 31, 2014

Zone 2 Opens: Aug. 30

Closes: March 31, 2014

There is a quota of 14 mountain lions in Zone 1 early season. If the quota is reached, the early season in Zone 1 will close immediately. The quota in the late season is seven lions. If that quota is reached, the late season in Zone 1 will close immediately.

There is no mountain lion harvest quota in Zone 2.

Mountain lions may be hunted statewide by residents using legal firearms or archery equipment during regular hunting hours. Beginning Nov. 25, mountain lions may also be hunted by pursuing with dogs. Cable devices and traps are not allowed. The limit is one lion per hunter per season. Kittens (lions with visible spots), or females accompanied by kittens, may not be taken. Any lion taken must be reported to the Department within 12 hours and the entire intact animal must be submitted for analysis. Legally taken animals will be returned to the hunter.

For more information, see the North Dakota 2013-14 furbearer guide.


Fisher Trapping or Cable Devices

Opens: Nov. 25

Closes: Dec. 1

Fishers may be harvested by North Dakota residents only in the open area east of U.S. Highway 281 and ND Highway 4. The limit is one animal per trapper per season. Any fisher taken must be reported to the Department within 12 hours. The pelt must be removed from the carcass prior to presenting the animal to the Department for tagging. The carcass shall remain with the Department.

For more information, see the North Dakota 2013-14 furbearer guide.


Weasel Trapping

Opens: Oct. 26

Closes: March 15, 2014


Weasel Hunting or Cable Devices

Opens: Nov. 25

Closes: March 15, 2014

Weasels may be hunted statewide with .22 caliber rimfire rifles or pistols, muzzleloaders of .45 caliber or smaller, longbows and crossbows.


After experiencing the highest muskrat numbers in a decade during 2010-11, surveys show the population has now crashed statewide and is currently 84 percent below the 20-year average.

Muskrat and Mink Trapping or Cable Devices

Opens: Nov. 25

Closes: April 30, 2014

Muskrat huts may be opened for insertion of traps or cable devices; however, the huts must be restored to their approximate original condition to prevent freeze-up.

Beginning March 16, 2014, colony traps must be under at least 2 inches of water, and trapping or using cable devices on the outside of any muskrat house or structure of any size is prohibited. Traps may be placed completely inside a muskrat house or structure of any size. Foothold traps must have at least 2 inches of water over the entire trap pan or must have a protective covering. Body-gripping traps and cable devices used in water can have no more than 2 inches of the trap or cable above the water or must have a protective covering.

 

Muskrat and Mink Hunting

Opens: Nov. 25

Closes: April 30, 2014

Mink and muskrat maybe be hunted statewide with .22 caliber rimfire rifles or pistols, muzzleloaders of .45 caliber or smaller, longbows and crossbows.


Bobcat Hunting or Trapping

Opens: Nov. 9

Closes: March 15, 2014

Beginning Nov. 25, bobcats may also be hunted by pursuing with dogs.


The bobcat is one of North Dakota's most secretive furbearers.

Bobcat Cable Devices

Opens: Nov. 25

Closes: March 15, 2014

Open only in the area south and west of the Missouri River.

The pelt and carcass of each bobcat must be presented to Department personnel for inspection and tagging prior to sale or transfer of possession, but no later than 14 days after the close of the season. No bobcat pelt will be tagged until the animal is skinned and presented with the intact carcass. The carcass shall remain property of the Department. No fur dealer shall possess or purchase an untagged bobcat.

For more information, see the North Dakota 2013-14 furbearer guide.

 

Red Fox, Gray Fox, Coyote and Badger Hunting or Trapping

Open year-round (Officially from April 1, 2013 – March 31, 2014)

In addition, red fox, gray fox and coyote may be hunted at any hour from Nov. 25, 2013, through March 15, 2014. Any hunter who engages in the hunting of red fox, gray fox or coyote during the time from half-hour after sunset to half-hour before sunrise, must hunt exclusively on foot and use a predator call. The use of a spotlight or any other artificial light is prohibited.


Red Fox, Gray Fox, Coyote and Badger Cable Devices

Opens: Nov. 25

Closes: March 15, 2014


Beaver and Raccoon Hunting, Trapping or Underwater Cable Devices

Open year-round (Officially from April 1, 2013 – March 31, 2014)

For more information, see the North Dakota 2013-14 furbearer guide.


Spring surveys indicate raccoon numbers increased statewide from 2012, especially in the eastern part of the state.

Beaver and Raccoon Cable Devices on Land

Opens: Nov. 25

Closes: April 30, 2014

From March 16, 2014, through April 30, 2014, cable devices must be within 50 feet of water; they must be no more than 4 inches off the ground and they must have a stop restricting loop size to 12 or less inches in diameter.

Beaver dams may be dismantled when their presence causes property damage.