Report furbearer sightings to contribute to wildlife research

grey fox
The gray fox is distinguished from the red fox by its shorter ears, a shorter muzzle and smaller head, along with the black stripe and back tip on its tail. (Tim Daniel, Ohio Division of Wildlife, photo)

COLUMBUS — The Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife is seeking reports of gray foxes, river otters, black bears and other furbearers.

Reports can be submitted to the Wildlife Reporting System at and on the HuntFish OH mobile app. Wildlife biologists use public reports to monitor populations of these species.

The gray fox is one of two fox species found in Ohio, although it is less common than the red fox. Gray foxes prefer wooded areas and thick brush. The gray fox has a distinguishing black tip to its tail and has a unique ability among canines to climb trees. The species is most abundant in the forested portions of eastern Ohio. Its nocturnal and secretive habits make the gray fox difficult to track. Submitting photos or sightings, as well as carcasses, to the Division of Wildlife will help guide gray fox management and provide biologists with information on population health, demographics, and genetics. Gray foxes are active during the winter as peak breeding nears.

River otters were once extirpated from Ohio but were reintroduced to four watersheds between 1986 and 1993. Today, they are found nearly statewide and are no longer listed on Ohio’s endangered species list. A highly regulated trapping season allows for limited harvest opportunities for river otters. Following the start of trapping season on Dec. 26, trappers are asked to submit river otter carcasses upon harvest. Information on the age, sex and reproductive status of river otter carcasses is used to monitor the status of the population.

Black bears are endangered in Ohio and were once extirpated. The species began naturally recolonizing eastern Ohio at the end of the last century, and while sightings are still relatively uncommon, they have been increasing in recent years. Report sightings and, when possible and safe, photos of black bears to the Division of Wildlife.

Contact your county wildlife officer to submit river otter and gray fox carcasses. Submitted carcasses can be from harvests or roadkill, although it is not permitted to collect roadkill carcasses. One can report the location of roadkill to their local wildlife officer. Other furbearers that citizen scientists can report include fishers, badgers, weasels and bobcats.

Hunting and trapping of foxes is permitted from now through Jan. 31. River otter trapping is permitted from Dec. 26 to Feb. 29. Check the latest Ohio Hunting and Trapping Regulations at for more information.

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