U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


Date of this Version



Wildlife Society Bulletin 45(2):202–205; 2021;

DOI: 10.1002/wsb.1179


This article has been contributed to by US Government employees and their work is in the public domain in the USA.


River otter (Lontra canadensis) populations in North America have been the focus of significant restoration efforts. Wildlife management agencies, concerned about the unintentional take of river otters incidental to beaver (Castor canadensis) trapping, may recommend techniques to avoid capturing river otters. River otter avoidance techniques that are ineffective or diminish trap performance for beavers are undesirable. We conducted a field evaluation in 2015 and 2016 in Wisconsin to assess how two trigger configurations (offset and center) on body-grip traps would affect the incidental capture rate of river otters during beaver trapping. We also evaluated effects of each configuration on beaver capture rates, body lengths, and anatomical locations of trap-jaw strikes. We used size 330 body-grip traps equipped with identical triggers and alternated between trigger configurations during beaver damage management activities. We captured 8 river otters with each trap trigger configuration. Trap-jaw strikes on beavers differed between trigger configurations, with offset triggers resulting in more abdomen strikes and center triggers causing more cervical vertebrae strikes. We found that an offset trigger configuration did not reduce incidental take of otters and was less effective for trapping beavers.