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Otter trapping ban may be lifted in N.D.

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NORTH DAKOTA—North Dakota could become the next state to allow otter trapping, an animal once nearly wiped out in North America.

According to the Game and Fish Department, Governor Burgum is expected to decide if the ban should be lifted within the next week.

For years, these playful creatures have mostly been spotted in zoos, but now in the wild, they still hide beneath murky waters.

"I'm in cross country so we run these almost every morning and I've never seen an otter in this river," said Ashley Buegel, Moorhead resident.

"I've never seen an otter in any of the parks in Fargo," said John Langenwalter, Fargo Park District.

Out of the 10 people we asked only one person said she'd seen an otter despite a comeback that's taken around 100 years, after otters were thought to be extinct in the early 1900s.

Even though you may have never seen otters in these waters, the Game and Fish Department says they've been living in the Red for at least 15 years.

During that time, they've just continued to grow in population, not only in these waters but also all across the state, that's mainly due to their resilience.

"Our rivers and waterways are less polluted now than they have before and otters themselves have been able to acclimate to different types of environments," said Doug Leier, Biologist, Game and Fish Department.

With the numbers up, the department wants to reintroduce otter trapping and allow those who 'incidentally' trap an otter while trapping other animals to keep them, but just one per season.

"We're actually kind of excited about this because this is something that we have been looking at for quite a long time, having a legal otter season in North Dakota," said Leier.

Opponents say there aren't enough otters to sustain a trapping season and that trapping methods are cruel to animals, but the department says around 15 otters are trapped accidentally each year and trappers currently have to hand them over to the department.

"Now they'll be able to keep that otter," said Leier.

A fun, mischievous creature proving a comeback is always possible.

If the proposal passes North Dakota would become the 34th state to allow trapping.