“Trapping is used as a management tool to both increase populations and reduce populations,” said Laura Patton, furbearer biologist for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “Kentucky’s otter restoration could not have happened without foothold traps.”
River otters were once rare or absent from most parts of the state. From 1991 to 1994, 355 otters were trapped from Louisiana and released at 14 sites in Kentucky.
Today’s traps are designed with animal welfare in mind. For example, laminated jaws provide more surface area than those used generations ago. This holds the animal’s foot securely to prevent injury. Swivels are also used to allow the trap to spin freely as the animal moves, thus reducing injury.
“All the otters were trapped using foothold traps, and all were released unharmed,” Patton said.
“The (foothold) traps today are more restraining devices than the traps of old,” noted Gene Beeber, public relations officer for Kentucky Fur Takers and director of the yearly Fur Takers of America trapper’s college. “Traps with teeth have been outlawed for over 50 years.”
Traps can be used to eliminate problems when populations become too high in an area, or when nuisance animals cause livestock loss or property damage.
(For the rest of the story, check out this week's edition of the Cadiz Record.)