Accidental Catches

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    We all know that from time to time we catch non-target animals and even catch an animal by mistake. I had the biggest “accidental catch” in my lifetime August 12, 2014.
    I was on a beaver complaint job for the county. ( I am a nuisance animal control trapper)  I was also catching a few non-target catches but that can be expected. When I checked traps that day, I knew something did not look right. Further inspection I could see my 330 conibear was missing. By the sign it was obvious that the trap had been dragged down stream. I thought that was odd because I wondered why the beaver would want to go downstream in the shallow water. The up stream side was only thigh high to begin with. I began to track downstream. I walked at least 100 yards and could not locate anything. I was sure I did not miss the beaver and I was getting ready to turn around when I saw something up ahead of me a ways. I thought, “Finally! ” The closer I got I could tell something was not quite right. When I got up to it, It was  River Otter!!! Those things are solid muscle and very powerful. A very impressive animal.
    Immediately upon return to my truck, I contacted my conservation officer. I also contacted my fur bearer biologist. I was told by my fur bearer biologist that this was the first documented river otter catch in my county in at least 50-60 years. There was a “sighting” in 1996 but no documented catches.
    The otter was later used at one of our trapper education classes per the DNR instructions. The otter was a male and weighed 23 pounds. The tail was 15 inches and the total body length was 47 inches.
    I was using a dam set with a 330 conibear and it was on the bottom, and I was using a dive stick. I never dreamed of a river otter in that small drainage ditch. Just goes to show, anything can happen.
    It looks like we are going to have a river otter season in Indiana in 2015 but my county wont be one of them due to population. I felt bad catching it but it was an experience that I will never forget!

     

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