Skip to main content - The Official Portal for North Dakota State Government
Otter on bank

River Otter Trapping

Has Youth Season
ND Resident Only

Season Dates

Season Dates
Season Hunting Units Opens Closes Season Dates Status
Regular - Traps, cable devices Statewide Finalized

License Requirements

General Requirements

Except for residents under 16 years of age, a furbearer license is required to hunt or trap furbearers.

Nonresidents may not take furbearers, except they may hunt fox and coyote if they possess a furbearer and nongame license. Exceptions: Residents of a state that allows North Dakota residents to trap within that state, may purchase a nonresident reciprocal trapping license to trap in this state. Nonresidents having this license may not take bobcats, mountain lions, river otters or fishers.

Hunters and trappers are required to purchase licenses, except any resident, or member of his or her family permanently residing with him or her, may hunt small game, trap or use cable devices during the open season without a license upon land owned or leased by him or her, but otherwise is governed by seasons, limits and all other regulations.

Residents do not need a license to take unprotected species of wildlife (prairie dogs, rabbits, skunks, ground squirrels). Nonresidents hunting only unprotected species of wildlife need only a nongame license.

Residents must possess the following licenses:

  • Fishing, Hunting, and Furbearer Certificate
  • Furbearer License (not required of residents under age 16), or
  • Combination License (includes Small Game, General Game and Habitat, Furbearer, and Fishing licenses)
  • Military - Upon presentation of valid leave papers and a valid North Dakota operator's license, a resident who is on leave and is an active duty as a member of the United States armed forces or the United States merchant marine may hunt small game, fish, or trap during the open season without a license.

Nonresidents must possess the following licenses:

  • Bobcats, Mountain Lions, Fishers, River Otter - May not be taken by nonresidents.
  • Badger, Beaver, Mink, Muskrat, Raccoon, Weasel - May only be taken with traps or cable devices by nonresidents whose home state has a reciprocal trapping agreement with North Dakota.
    • Required licenses:
      • Nonresident Fishing, Hunting, and Furbearer Certificate
      • Nonresident Reciprocal Trapping License
  • Coyote, Fox (Red and Gray)
    • Required licenses:
      • Nonresident Fishing, Hunting, and Furbearer Certificate
      • Nonresident Furbearer and Nongame License (to hunt) or Nonresident Reciprocal Trapping License (to take with traps or cable devices)


Species Specific Regulations

  • River otter may only be harvested by North Dakota residents.
  • The limit is one river otter per person.
  • River otters may be harvested statewide.
  • Any river otter that is harvested must be reported to the Department within 12 hours to make arrangements to have the river otter tagged. The pelt must be removed from the carcass prior to presenting the river otter to Department personnel for tagging. No river otter pelt will be tagged until the animal is skinned and presented with the entire carcass, including the head.
  • The carcass shall remain property of the Department.
  • No person, taxidermist or fur dealer shall possess or purchase an untagged river otter.
  • When any part of the animal is mounted, if the tag is removed from the pelt, the tag must be securely fastened to the back or bottom of mount.
  • Harvest may be no more than 25 river otters.
  • Once the harvest limit of 25 river otters is reached, the season will close immediately.
  • The Department will inform the public of this closure through the media.
  • The harvest limit will not include river otters accidentally caught outside of established season dates or by Wildlife Services, the Department, private landowners in defense of livestock or personal property, road-killed, or those harvested on Indian lands.
  • River otters incidentally trapped after the close of the season must be reported to the Department within 12 hours and turned over to the Department.

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department, along with the North Dakota Fur Takers Association, recommends that all traps be visually inspected and all captured animals be removed at no greater than 48-hour intervals, and that rubber gloves be worn for skinning and handling of all furbearers.

Best Management Practices

(Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies)

Report a River Otter Sighting