Maine's Furbearer Management Plan

The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) initiated comprehensive species planning in 1968 and have refined and expanded the process with each planning update. In 2017, MDIFW completed a major update of its management plans for big game species (deer, bear, moose, and wild turkey). In 2019, MDIFW began updating management plans for furbearer species, a diverse group that includes coyote, red and gray fox, bobcat, fisher, marten, raccoon, skunk, short and long-tailed weasel, mink, otter, beaver, muskrat, and opossum.

In 2019, MDIFW contracted with Responsive Management, an internationally recognized public opinion research firm, to obtain public input regarding the management of furbearers in the state. The study’s objectives were to determine public knowledge of furbearers, attitudes toward trapping, and human-wildlife conflicts of Maine’s residents, hunters, trappers, and landowners. The project gathered input from thousands of Maine residents. Specifically, Responsive Management conducted a scientific survey of Maine residents, hunters, trappers, and landowners; focus group discussions with residents, hunters, trappers, and animal rights advocates; regional public meetings open to the public; and an online discussion forum that allowed for additional input from Maine residents and recreationalists. Check out the Human Dimensions of Furbearer Management in Maine summary report (PDF) or the complete report (PDF).  

Steering Committee

MDIFW convened a steering committee to help guide the overall planning process and species subcommittees to provide recommendations for the management of furbearer species. Species have been grouped based on similar management strategies with the following timelines to develop a species plan: Beaver/Otter (2019/20), Mink/Muskrat (2019/20), Canids (2020/21), Bobcat (2020/21), Marten/Fisher (2021/22), and other furbearers (2021/22).

The steering committee is lead by small mammal biologist Shevenell Webb and wildlife special projects coordinator Bob Cordes.

Steering Committee Members (PDF)

Draft 2020–2030 Furbearer Management Plan

The draft 2020-2030 Furbearer Management Plan (PDF) was open to public comment September 24 - October 22, 2021. This document represents comprehensive planning, coordination, and public engagement centered around 6 overarching goals:

  • Maintain healthy and abundant furbearer populations
  • Maintain sustainable furbearer harvests
  • Maintain trapping opportunities
  • Increase public understanding of furbearers and furbearer management
  • Minimize human-wildlife conflicts
  • Conservation of other species

The draft plan includes the general introduction to the planning process, public survey results, furbearer management considerations and strategies, and the 4 initial species chapters (beaver, river otter, American mink, and muskrat). Additional species chapters will be added to the Plan once they are completed and opportunities for public input will again be solicited. Once finalized, this plan will guide the management of Maine's 16 species of furbearers through 2030.

All public comments will be summarized and reviewed by the furbearer steering committee and Department staff.  A final version will be submitted to the Commissioner of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife for approval and adoption. The final draft will be available by December 31, 2021.