2013-14 Furbearer Outlook

red fox

By Pat Tate, N.H. Fish and Game Furbearer Project Leader

2013/2014 Furbearer Forecast
By Pat Tate, N.H. Fish and Game Furbearer Project Leader

New Hampshire's furbearer populations are healthy, diverse and abundant.  Trappers, who are some of the best naturalists in the state, represent important partners in New Hampshire’s furbearer management efforts.

Trapping is a highly regulated activity in New Hampshire. Trapper education is required, as is mandatory reporting of field activities. And, of course, written landowner permission is required, among many other requirements.

There are fewer than 500 trappers in New Hampshire, and the information they provide to wildlife population managers is essential to season-setting.  The services that trappers offer the public in resolving human/wildlife conflicts, such as removal of beavers flooding septic fields or raccoons raiding chicken coops, is also essential to maintaining balance between human and wildlife interests.

New Hampshire monitors furbearer abundance by way of trapper success, as reflected by the number of animals trapped per one hundred trap-nights of effort.  Fish and Game's species monitoring activity focuses primarily on beaver, fisher, otter, mink, muskrat, raccoon, red and gray fox and coyote.

How are our furbearers doing? The early subsidence of the 2012/2013 winter allowed early movement and better access to late winter/early spring food sources for furbearer species. Modest winter impacts and expected increased survival of furbearers produced last winter and spring are expected to carry over to fall and winter seasons in 2013 and 2014. For specific information regarding New Hampshire furbearer hunting and trapping seasons, see the 2013-2014 NH Hunting Digest (click here and on publication cover).

Bobcat Research
A major portion of the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department/University of New Hampshire bobcat research initiative has been completed. Preliminary findings indicate that citizen sightings of bobcats can be used to document bobcat behavior and distribution, but that they do not constitute a reliable basis for estimating the bobcat population. Bobcat telemetry data from southwestern New Hampshire showed that bobcats use wetlands, scrublands, riparian areas, forest interiors and areas of low elevation and low stream density as preferred habitats.

Data from the study further indicate that bobcats appear to avoid roads and areas of human development. Bobcat habitat selection appears to reflect use of areas of higher prey density and preferred loafing or denning areas. Preliminary results indicate New Hampshire has many bobcat travel corridors based on bobcat habitat use.  Ongoing research will provide information about the value of trail cameras in assessing regional bobcat abundance.  To learn more about the bobcat study, visit http://mlitvaitis.unh.edu/Research/BobcatWeb/bobcats.htm.

Wildlife Harvest Summary: Trappers can find information on the past season's fur harvest and more in the 2012 N.H. Wildlife Harvest Summary. This publication is available for review on the NH Fish and Game website ((click here and on publication cover). Copies are also available to pick up at Fish and Game regional offices and at Department headquarters, 11 Hazen Drive, Concord.

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NH Fish and Game Dept.
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