River Otters

North American river otters (Lontra canadensis) are elusive mammals and little is known of their current population and ecology in most of interior British Columbia including the West Kootenays. Otters are a social species and the top predator within freshwater aquatic ecosystems.  Our limited knowledge about their local ecology and the role otters play within these ecosystems is not well understood.  Elsewhere in Eastern Canada and parts of the United States river otter presence is used as an indicator for water quality and ecosystem health.
Local research efforts are underway to discover more about their populations and ecology, and you can help!
Send us your otter stories, where you saw them and when. The most recent sightings are best.
Please send to zzoist@gmail.com
The above post is from researcher Rhia Mackenzie. You can also send your stories in the comment section below and I will forward them to her. Because otters are a fur bearing animal all data and stories will be kept confidential and not be shown on this site. Rhia will only use the data for further research. 

One thought on “River Otters

  1. When left unchecked, though, otter depradations can be quite significant under certain circumstances (e.g. in hatcheries or other fish culture facilities). Likewise, the potential predatory impact of otters may be considerable whenever fish are physically confined (most commonly in smaller ponds offering sparse cover or other escape options). Resolution of such conflicts will usually require removal and/or relocation of nuisance otters. Even in larger bodies of water, they may take disproportional advantage of any seasonal concentrations of fish when and where only very limited areas of suitable spawning, low-flow, or over-wintering habitat may exist. Even such fast-swimming species as trout become lethargic in extremely cold water, with a commensurate increase in their vulnerability to predation. As such, careful consideration of any threatened, endangered, or fish species of special interest is warranted prior to reintroduction of otters to a watershed. Although other prey species are of temporary significance to the river otter, the deciding factor whether the river otter can establish itself as a permanent resident of one location is the year-round availability of fish.

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