With the opening of trapping season for bobcats arriving on December 1, trappers are reminded of a new requirement before they take to the field.
New this year for bobcat is the requirement to bring unfrozen lower jaws that have been cleaned and air dried when presenting the pelts for inspection and tagging by Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks.
The same requirement was also put in place this year for otter and swift fox trappers.
Jaws should not be stored in plastic bags or containers. To prevent decaying, jaws should be cleaned of as much flesh as possible, allowed to dry, and then stored in paper bags or a small cardboard box. Jaws will not be returned.
“FWP uses data on the age structure of furbearer populations to adjust seasons and quotas,” said Bob Inman, FWP’s furbearer coordinator in Helena. “This year, FWP will no longer require the submission of the entire skull. Instead, only the lower jaw is required.”
Inman explained that the age of each animal is determined by looking at a cross-section of the canine tooth, much like rings in a tree.
“Each animal is then assigned a birth year,” Inman said. “Over time, the data on birth years allows wildlife biologists to develop a ‘reconstructed population’ that indicates years of high or low reproduction.”
These data are also combined with trapper data from harvest surveys to determine population trends, which are then used to adjust quotas and manage for long-term population health.
Regulated trapping in Montana is managed by FWP through scientifically based regulations to sustain furbearer populations. FWP and the Fish & Wildlife Commission continually review and refine those regulations to ensure the use of best management practices for trapping activities.
Licensed trappers also provide FWP with important information that assists with wildlife management programs across the state.”FWP would like to thank trappers in advance for their help in moving to the new clean jaw procedure,” Inman said.
Find more information on Montana furbearers and trapping regulations online at fwp.mt.gov. Click “Hunting” then click “Trapping“.