Ban Otter Trapping in Illinois

Target: Illinois Department of Natural Resources

Goal: Ban the trapping of otters in the state of Illinois

Thanks to a determined conservation effort, the river otter populations in states like Illinois have rebounded from being an endangered species.  But now, for the first time since 1929, Illinois has made it legal to hunt and trap otters and sell their pelts.  Tell the director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources that otter trapping is unacceptable and that these creatures deserve the chance to thrive.

At one point, there were merely 100 otters left in the rivers of Illinois.  Thankfully, the release of 400 captured otters into the wild had a miraculous effect: decades later, the population was around 20,000.  The animals went from endangered, to threatened, and were finally delisted in 2004.  However, a recent  decision made by Illinois’ Department of Natural Resources allows hunters to purchase licenses for $15.50 so they can legally trap and kill up to five otters and sell their pelts which can go for as much as $70.

Despite calling them “beautiful and awesome animals,” Bob Bluett, a biologist for the Department of Natural Resources, says that the otters have become a nuisance for fishermen and are upsetting the ecological balance of the Illinois wildlife.  He says that the otters are the most likely cause of the decline in alligator snapping turtle populations as well as other species predation.  A balanced ecosystem is certainly a priority for everyone, but one questions the approach that state officials are taking in the case of the river otters in Illinois.  Why were these animals allowed to thrive if they were just going to be killed again?  How will the department reliably track the number of otters being killed?  Shouldn’t ecosystem revitalization be a big picture issue, one that doesn’t rely on the brutal killing of certain species?  Stop the legal trapping of otters before the population tumbles once again and opt for a more comprehensive and sustainable approach to wildlife management.


Dear Marc Miller, Director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources,

A biologist working for your department once called the river otters that populate the waters of Illinois “beautiful and awesome animals.”  But your recent decision to allow the hunting and trapping of these defenseless animals shows a disregard for not only the population’s miraculous resurgence but for a comprehensive, sustainable and humane approach to ecosystem management.  Even if the otters are affecting the livelihoods of species like the alligator snapping turtle, allowing hunters to trap and kill the animals is not the answer.

One must wonder how the Department plans on making sure that each hunter that is issued a license will only allow the killing of five otters.  The plan shows a prioritization of revenue over a commitment to the preservation of a species that conservationists fought so hard to bring back.  A balanced approach to ecosystem management would prevent measures like this from taking place.  Please reconsider the decision to allow trapping and hunting and give the river otters a chance.


[Your Name Here]

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  1. Trapping should be banned at all – just backward, cruel, unnecessary, perverse and far beneath the dignity of any so-called civilized or even compassionate being!

  2. More animals would die from being hit by cars and starvation than are currently trapped if trapping was banned. Also, I think it’s great everyone on this site is worried about animals (with good intent I must also add) but at the same time humans are being killed every day by abortions and dying of starvation. I think we all need to rethink our priorities.

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