The Missouri Conservation Commission gave initial approval to the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) at its Dec. 10 open meeting on proposed regulation changes that would extend current furbearer hunting and trapping seasons for abundant furbearer species.
Furbearers are mammal species that have traditionally been trapped or hunted for their fur, such as coyotes, raccoons, and skunks. Many furbearers are also considered small game species, for which there are small game hunting seasons.
According to MDC, many furbearer populations have experienced long-term population increases, allowing for additional harvest opportunity. The Department has received input from a variety of stakeholders to provide additional opportunity through extension and adjustments of season dates for multiple furbearer species.
Furbearers play important ecological roles and trapping and hunting are critical wildlife management tools. MDC strives to provide the opportunity to harvest these species, while considering pelt-primeness during the fur-harvest season, desire for opportunity outside of the traditional fur-harvest season, the potential for conflict with other hunting seasons for other species, and landowner opportunity.
MDC’s Furbearer Program staff reviewed furbearer harvest seasons and worked to develop a regulatory framework that provides additional opportunity for harvest in response to stakeholder requests. Based on this review and stakeholder input, the following recommendations were developed for consideration:
Extending the hunting season and trapping season for bobcat, coyote, raccoon, opossum, striped skunk Nov. 15 to the last day of February.
Extending the trapping season for mink, muskrat, and river otter to Nov. 15 to the last day of February.
Establishing an early hunting and trapping season for raccoon and opossum to run Aug. 1 – Oct. 15.
Extending the trapping season on private land for coyote, raccoon, opossum, and skunk to March 1 – April 14.
The next step in the rulemaking process is for MDC to have a public comment period. MDC invites online review of the full regulation proposal and public comments Jan. 19 – Feb. 17 , 2022 at https://short.mdc.mo.gov/Z49.