Bobcats, fishers and river otters can be taken only by furtakers holding valid species-specific permits. All furtakers may purchase one permit for each species during the 2023-24 season. Furtakers may take no more than one animal with each permit. Each permit costs $6.97. Harvests must be reported.
Bobcat permits, fisher permits and otter permits are available through any license issuing agent and through HuntFishPA on the Game Commission’s website, www.pgc.pa.gov. Permits must be purchased before the start of each respective season. Bobcat and fisher permits must be purchased before Dec. 16. Otter permits must be purchased before Feb. 10.
A permitted person taking a bobcat or fisher shall, immediately before removing the animal from the harvest site, fully complete and attach to the animal the harvest tag furnished with the permit. The tag shall remain attached to the animal until it is mounted, tanned, made into a commercial fur or prepared for consumption. A Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) tag automatically will be issued for bobcats that may be exported or sold. A CITES tag is not required for a fisher pelt. Within 48 hours of harvesting a bobcat, fisher, or otter, a permit holder must report the harvest to the Game Commission through https://HuntFish.PA.gov, or by calling 1-800-838-4431.
Before removing an otter from the location where it was caught, successful permit holders must immediately complete and attach to the otter the carcass tag furnished with the permit, and report their harvest within 48 hours through https://HuntFish.PA.gov, or by calling 1-800-838-4431. The harvest tag must remain attached to the otter until a plastic CITES tag is attached, if applicable, or the animal is mounted, tanned, made into a commercial fur or prepared for consumption. For research purposes, the Game Commission may ask some successful otter trappers to surrender the carcass of their otter within 30 days.
In addition to general trapping regulations, it is unlawful to: 1) destroy, disturb or interfere with a beaver dam or house; 2) use other than raw, native wood and stone materials to direct the travel of beavers or otters (manmade materials may be used only to support traps or snares); 3) place, check, reset or tend a trap or snare on an established beaver dam or beaver house, or within 15 feet of either a dam or a house. Measurement shall be from directly above the trap or snare, across the water, ice or land to the nearest point of the structure; 4) check or maintain a beaver or otter trap, or remove a beaver or otter unless the person who owns the trap is present; 5) set body-gripping traps larger than 10 inches tall by 12 inches wide.
A legal snare for beaver and otter trapping must be looped galvanized stranded steel cable 3/32 inches in diameter, equipped with the approved locks required for cable restraints. A metal ferrule shall be crimped on the cable to prevent the snare loop from closing to a circumference less than 7 inches. It is unlawful to equip snares with a spring-activating mechanism or any device designed to aid in closing the snare loop. Snares used for taking beavers must be set completely or partially submerged in water within a waterway, watercourse, marsh, pond or dam. There must be one durable identification tag attached to each trap or snare by means of an extension wire of sufficient length so that the name tag or identification number is completely above the water or ice level and totally visible. The tag must list the owner’s first and last name and legal home address, or a number issued by the Game Commission.
The number of trapping devices allowed for beaver and otter trapping differs depending on furbearer species, WMU trapped, and beaver/otter season overlap.
It is unlawful for otter trappers to set, tend or operate more than a combined total of five traps or snares, no more than two of which may be body-gripping traps.
Where beaver season overlaps with otter season by calendar date within WMUs 1A, 1B, 2F, 3B, 3C, 3D & 4E, it is unlawful for beaver trappers to set, tend or operate more than a combined total of five traps or snares, no more than two of which may be body-gripping traps.
Where no overlap of otter and beaver seasons occurs by both calendar date and WMU, it is unlawful for beaver trappers to set, tend or operate more than a combined statewide total of 20 traps or snares, no more than 10 of which may be traps. No more than two of the traps may be body-gripping traps, except in WMUs where beaver bag limits are 40 per season all 10 traps may be body-gripping traps. In WMUs where beaver bag limits are 60 per season, all 20 traps or snares may be body-gripping traps.
Trappers may legally take up to 125 beavers with the combined harvest in multiple Wildlife Management Units in a season. When trapping in multiple WMUs, a trapper may set or tend up to 10 traps, up to 20 snares, and not more than a total of 20 devices statewide. Beavers or pelts do not need to be tagged.
Avoiding Accidental Otter Captures
Trappers are urged to learn to identify otter sign and, where otters exist, to adopt the following recommendations to avoid the accidental capture of otters while trapping beavers:
If an otter is captured accidentally, report it to the local game warden through the Centralized Dispatch Center at 1-833-PGC-HUNT or 1-833-PGC-WILD.