Furbearer hunting seasons are underway in West Virginia, with raccoon hunting continuing through Feb. 28, 2022, and the W.Va. Division of Natural Resources again is offering a $20 gift card for usable otter carcasses.
Spotty but locally abundant mast and last year's mild winter weather should have resulted in good reproduction and survival—leading to increased numbers of animals this season, according to a press release from the division.
With mast conditions good in places, locating raccoons should not be too difficult. The daily bag limit for raccoons taken during the hunting season this year is four.
Trappers harvesting beaver, bobcat, fisher, and otter are reminded they must electronically check their catches within 30 days after the close of the respective season. A division-issued game check confirmation number must be recorded in writing with the trapper’s name and address and be attached and remain attached to each pelt or whole animal until it is sold, tanned, or processed into commercial fur or mounted.
Information provided by hunters or trappers when checking their game is now used to monitor harvest and assist in future management in West Virginia: decisions regarding bag limits, season lengths, and opening and closing dates are reliant upon accurate data obtained from tags.
Trappers are also being asked to deliver skinned otter carcasses to division district offices, and they may call local offices to arrange a pick-up if they are unable to deliver the carcass. Biological samples collected will assist division biologists in making decisions regarding future trapping seasons, and a $20 gift card will be issued for each usable otter carcass provided.
The state advises trappers to obtain a plastic "Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora" seal for each bobcat and otter pelt from animals harvested in West Virginia, though the seal is necessary only if the pelts will be shipped out of the state. Federal law requires the seal on all bobcat and otter pelts if they will eventually be shipped to international markets, and seals must be obtained from the state where the animals were harvested.
Bobcats and river otters are not endangered species, but they may be confused with similar-looking species found on the international market. A convention seal may be obtained from the Elkins Operations Center and any division district office. Trappers and hunters should call ahead to ensure that personnel authorized to seal the pelts will be available.
For more information and closing dates for various species, go to the 2021-22 West Virginia Hunting and Trapping Regulations Summary, which is available at W.Va. DNR district offices, state license agents, and online at WVdnr.gov.