Last year, trappers in West Virginia sold 36,482 pelts. More than half (18,606) were raccoon pelts. Other top sellers included muskrat, 5,909; opossum, 2,009; bobcat, 1,994; coyote, 1,886; beaver, 1,742; gray fox, 1,701; and red fox, 1,680.
A total of 192 river otters were trapped during the 2012-13 season, a slight decline from 2011-12's inaugural harvest of 192.
An increasing market for otter pelts, and correspondingly high prices, have spurred trappers to ask DNR officials for an increase in the current one-otter yearly limit. Rogers said agency officials are reluctant to do that.
"With a stable harvest, increasing pelt prices and lack of survival data, this will not happen," he wrote in the current edition of the state's Furbearer Management Newsletter.
To compile the needed survival data, biologists would need to first determine survival rates by examining female otters' reproductive tracts and the canine teeth from both male and female otters.
So far, though, few trappers have taken the time to turn in carcasses of the otters they've trapped, even though DNR officials have offered to come and pick them up.
Rogers and his colleagues know that the current demand for furs has the potential to deplete furbearer populations.
"The more [trapping] pressure there is, the less opportunity there will be in the future because so many animals are being caught," Rogers said. "That said, no one should worry that any species are in danger of disappearing. There simply aren't enough trappers in West Virginia to make that happen."
Reach John McCoy at johnmc...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1231.