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Old 02-07-2011, 09:31 PM
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whitefeather whitefeather is offline
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Unhappy Otter vs. Trout, who will win out!

I am renewing the post on otters from a different angle. Because the problem is affecting the Smokie Mountain streams we fish, I am posting it on this thread.

This past Sunday I was going over the posts on the Fly Fishing for Trout in Other States thread by John, JSWITOW. I went through from start to finish very much interested because I had fished Snowbird a couple of years ago in April on a trip over from Tellico Plains where we were staying. The last post was by Jim Casada and it reads:

Jswitow--Don't know whether you've noticed it, but my sources in Graham County (and they are local fishermen who are as good as they get) tell me that otters are playing the devil with the lake run fish. My best fishing buddy says they have gotten increasingly worse for years and that he often sees them on the opposite bank right below the "doctors" bridge. I have no doubt at all they are a factor, and in all likelihood a significant factor.
Jim Casada

Jim's post reminded me that I had intended to do some research on otter hunting and trapping in NC, specifically in Graham county.

I don't want to come off as another "****ed yankee" sticking my nose into the business of you southern ladies and gentlemen, so I will politely state that I have spent nearly half my life in the South, have loved every minute of it, my family originated in NC, and I have kept up my hunting, trapping, and fishing non-resident license and subscribe to the NCWRC newsletter and other publications, so I do have somewhat of a vested interest in what's going on down there.

I began my research from the starting point: What man made factors might keep the otter in check and possibly alleviate any fears that this bugger is going to completely take over the wild streams of NC, with the demise of the trout as a result. Who for instance is trapping or hunting these guys and when are legal seasons, regs, fur prices, etc.

From the Feb. 2011 report by the North American Fur Auction (NAFA) I see there has been no activity for otter pelts. Coyote, mink, and beaver pelt prices are up with high percentages of buying. No activity reported for otter.

This is what is disturbing to me. There was mention of a NAFA fee charged to pelt sellers for otter which amounted to about $2 per pelt.

Listed below I found:

"General Trapping Restrictions (NCWRC 2010-2011 regs)

It is unlawful to:
Sell or otherwise transfer ownership of the carcass or pelt of
a bobcat or otter without first tagging it with the appropriate
tag available from the Wildlife Resources Commission. The fee
is $2.20 for each bobcat or otter tag. You may purchase these
tags by telephone, (88 248-6834, using a VISA or MasterCard
credit card, or you can mail your request along with the fee to:
NCWRC, Bobcat/Otter Tags, 1707 Mail Service Center, Raleigh,
NC 27699-1707. Include your name, address, date of birth and
WRC number. NOTE: All bobcat and otter fur must be tagged
within 10 days of the close of the applicable season."

That's another $2.20 per pelt.

I'm not real sure about shooting the critters with a .22 because of the regs concerning "dumping". On private property they are supposed to disposed of by burying I believe. The regs are quite lengthy and confusing on a first read.

With the above mentioned fees in mind, I would be spending at least $4.20 per pelt/tag just to sell them not to mention other expenses or the hassle. With seemingly no market as mentioned by NAFA's report, why would anyone bother?

I guess a person could take a .22 pistol (season specific, area specific) with them trout fishing and pop off a few of the buggers if they showed up, but then they might be in jeopardy for "dumping" them, in or near, the stream. Please correct me if I am wrong, as I have not gone over the regs like a law review clerk as yet.

Years ago I was an avid trapper; my niche was muskrat. I generally made $700-800 (1979) a week so it was worth my trouble. Sometimes I caught 50 to 75 rats, twice each day, mornings and evenings. Things went great for a number of years, then we started having warm winters, and the bottom fell out. The animals were not "furring out" well and the Canadians simply swooped up the market. Pelt prices dropped to less than a dollar each for large pelts and mere pennies for the smaller ones. Hardly worth it! My traps have been hanging from the rafters every since.

With what I have been able to turn up on the subject of otters, it looks like the situation with them is bound to boil over soon. It would seem that there just isn't enough impetuous to pursue a course of legal mitigation for their increasing numbers to date.

Whitefeather
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Last edited by whitefeather; 02-07-2011 at 09:35 PM.. Reason: spelling
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Old 02-08-2011, 09:10 AM
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Default Fur prices

On 01/29/11 in South Pittsburg, TN, 27 otters sold for an average price of $35.24 and a high price of $55.00. I'm not sure about N.C. data. You would have to pay me way more than $1.70 to skin a skunk!!!

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Old 02-08-2011, 09:23 AM
Jim Casada Jim Casada is offline
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Whitefeather--I talked to a couple of folks who work for the NCWRC about otters. They are basically aware of the fact that they have a proble on their hands. Of course, after otters causing tens of thousands of dollars in damage in some of their hatcheries it would be difficult not to have awareness. The state has extended the length of the trapping season for otters, but as you rightly point out, they have also made it a bureaucratic headache.
I do know, specifically in Graham County, that some otters have died of lead poisoning without any reference to season or anything else. I'm not condoning it but I certainly understand this approach. If I owned land where otters emptied out a pond overnight and I caught them in the act I'm not at all sure I would wait for all the proper depredation permits (and I can't imagine any jury convicting someone in such circumstances).
It's a mess and one which is getting worse. What intrigues me is that as recently as two years ago many wildlife officials were in denial as regards this problem, and the same was true of a number of folks on this and other forums. I don't think there's much doubt in anyone's mind today that there's a big, and potentially huge, problem.
Jim Casada
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Old 02-08-2011, 02:09 PM
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Jim,

Just in reading the regs I get the impression that the otters are being treated as a defacto protected species.

The fact that options for the sale of their pelts is limited in WNC to just a few outlets and are "taxed" ($2.20 tag each, which you must have when removing them) and another $2.00 each at the fur buyers, are conclusive statements spoken in actions, not words.

If I trapped 100 otters in a week, I would have to pay $220 in "tax" just to take the pelts off the property where I trapped them or where I processed them and another $200 (Feb 2011 report) when they were auctioned, if they were auctioned.

This would explain why a good trapping season in terms of pelt prices this past year, that brought in very good prices for other furbearing animals, did not in fact do the same for otter pelts. No one wants to deal with them and the apparent hassle of dealing with WRC.

I would actually consider coming down there to trap otters, if I could get some help from locals, identifying problem areas and their permssion to do so on their land, but only if I could make enough money to pay expenses.

This would be a great opportunity, as I am retired now, and would also serve as a way to do more fishing and learn the lay of the land better as well. I have many years of dealing with buearacrats both federal and state, so my skin is still pretty thick. However, if there is no financial opportunity available, then it wouldn't be possible.

If some of you fellows down there could get me some more information, spread the word, or correct me as to my thinking, I am inviting one and all to please do so on this forum. But, please give me reliable information sources that I can ckeck out so as to minimize efforts in setting up a plan.

Thanks to all who have responded!

Whitefeather
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Old 02-08-2011, 03:29 PM
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NAFA didn't offer any otters in their January auction, but Fur Harvesters Auction Inc. did. They brought in an average of $42.38/pelt. You can expect a little less for southern furs. NAFA will start selling their otters in the February auction.

http://www.furharvesters.com/results/2011/jan11us.pdf

You don't have to sell them in WNC. Once you get your CITES tag ($2.50), you can bring them to TN and sell them ($35.24 average in Jan), or ship them to an auction house and pay their fees.
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Old 02-08-2011, 03:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by buzzmcmanus View Post
NAFA didn't offer any otters in their January auction, but Fur Harvesters Auction Inc. did. They brought in an average of $42.38/pelt. You can expect a little less for southern furs. NAFA will start selling their otters in the February auction.

http://www.furharvesters.com/results/2011/jan11us.pdf
buzzmcmanus,

Thanks for the info! That puts a more positive spin on things. I'll look into it. Once, again thanks for your repsonse!

Whitefeather
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Old 02-08-2011, 04:29 PM
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Jim,

Here's a graphic pdf I found on NCWRC's website. I think you'll be very interested in it as it shows the range of otter in NC since 1955.

"A picture is worth a thousand words...."

http://www.ncwildlife.org/Trapping/D...bution_map.pdf

"In order to restore the river otter to its former range, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission released 49 river otters in the western part of the state from 1990-1995. River otters were also released in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Due to these restoration efforts, the otter population is now fully restored in North Carolina and considered abundant throughout the state. Because the United States signed the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species in 1977, states must monitor the populations of river otters."

"In general, adult males range farther than adult females, and family groups and young otters have the smallest ranges of all. Males have been shown to move 10 to 16 kilometers in a single night. Although they are aquatic predators and live near water, they can move overland between watersheds."


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Last edited by whitefeather; 02-08-2011 at 05:04 PM.. Reason: additional info
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Old 02-08-2011, 05:13 PM
Jim Casada Jim Casada is offline
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Whitefeather--The truth of the matter, no matter how politically incorrect it may be, is that mountain folks of yesteryear worked hard (and successfully) to eradicate otters. They figured out that they were destructive enough that they wanted no part of them. In fact, I remember an old-timer saying in sheer amazement when the release in WNC took place: "We worked a hundred years to get rid of these fish killers and now you idiots want to bring them back!" Strong language, but when we reach a point where trout are in real trouble in the Park, he might begin to look pretty darn bright.
What will be really interesting to me, and I've said it before, is just what heads-in-the-sand Park officials do when the specks they have restored start to vanish.
Incidentally, speaking of specks, I got some pretty solid insight at the recent Fly Fishing Show in Raleigh (from an inside source) that some of the earlier speck restoration programs are looking a bit problematic. That is to say, they are finding rainbows in streams where antimycin was used, and I'm talking about wild 'bows, not products of bucket biology. That's another hornet's nest just waiting to be poked by a stick of reality.
It all worries me a great deal, because I simply cannot understand two things: (1) Killing wild fish and (2) Stocking an animal with the potential to do great damage to a project which is the focus of a great deal of money.
For my part, I'm on the side of the specks.

Jim Casada
www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com
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Old 02-08-2011, 06:13 PM
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Default Otters in G'burg...

Read my post in the "Gatlinburg DH??" thread about what my wife and I saw Sunday evening in Gatlinburg.

Mike
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Old 02-08-2011, 08:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dancing Bear View Post
Read my post in the "Gatlinburg DH??" thread about what my wife and I saw Sunday evening in Gatlinburg.
Mike,

I did just that and what you and wife saw simply underlines the problem.
Hopefully, in town the tourists will feed them enough junk food that their life span will be shortened considerably. Maybe some poison sardines....just sayin'.....

At any rate the critters in town will soon figure out (if they haven't already) that they have a protected corridor in which to operate.

If and when they get really brave and show up on opening day of trout season with all their kin in Gatlinburg's streams, then maybe some human with an ounce of sense somewhere will figure out they are more of a liability, than an endearing attraction for the tourists.

I don't go near Gatlinburg, its too much like Nashville, In where I live and in October have to deal with a million nutty tourists every fall weekend.


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