Spring 2002

"Minnesota" from the John Ball Zoo in Michigan

(Photo courtesy Jan Reed-Smith)



Spring 2002 News from the River Otter Alliance:

President's Message

Why Do River Otters Inhabiting Marine Environments Live in Groups?
Gail Blundell, Institute of Arctic Biology, University of Alaska Fairbanks, talks about group behavior in river otters.

Can River Otters Naturally Recolonize the Grand Canyon?
Merav Ben-David, Ph.D., talks about reintroducing otters in the Grand Canyon.

Otter Conservation Education Campaign in Africa
Learn about the new conservation educational brochure about otters in sub-Saharan Africa for Africans.

River Otter Photos from Colorado's Ocean Journey Aquarium
All photos are courtesy of Eric Peterson and copyrighted 2002.

Otter Place Names: You "Otter" Go There
Learn about locations named after otters and why.

Population Survey for River Otters in Rocky Mountain National Park
Learn about how otter surveys are conducted and how difficult they can be.


Otter Updates
By Tracy Johnston

Colorado Reintroduction Follow-up Study
Colorado Division of Wildlife officials are planning a study of river otters along the Piedra, San Juan and Pine river complexes. The study will be a follow up to the state's otter reintroduction program that took place between 1976 and 1992. Biologists will attempt to determine a count of the elusive animals using physical signs, such as scat and prey remains. The study will be funded by the Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Fund. Colorado taxpayers may contribute to the fund on their 2001 income tax forms.

Otters No Longer Endangered in Ohio
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife, announced the Ohio Wildlife Council removed the river otter from the state's endangered species list this April. Ohio, as well as neighboring states Indiana, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, have all reintroduced river otters back into their states. Otters have now been spotted in 52 Ohio counties.

Missouri: Do River Otters Damage Sport Fishing?
Missouri Department of Conservation Fisheries Research Biologist Gary Novinger is seeking information about present or past efforts in other states assessing the impact of river otters on freshwater fish. The information will help him develop a project scope and methodology to study angler reports that river otters are damaging sport fisheries in small streams in the Missouri Ozark. You may reach Gary at noving@mail.conservation.state.mo.us or at 573-882-9880, ext. 3225.

Rocky Mountain Census Low
Rocky Mountain National Park officials conducted their bi-annual river otter population census on March 2, 2002. Twenty-eight volunteers, park officials and Colorado Division of Wildlife employees participated in the survey. Signs of an estimated twelve river otters were found, although officials believe this is a low assessment of the number of otters using the park and believe the population is stable and better reflected in prior years' surveys. Due to extremely cold weather (with temperatures remaining at or below -16 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the day), fresh, wind blown snow, and a lack of open water on many routes, two usual routes were not surveyed and several others were not completed. The survey is conducted every two years as a follow up to the state's reintroduction program. Rocky Mountain National Park river otter census reports are shown below:

Rocky Mountain National Park Otter Census Results

RMNP Survey Date
Number of Otters

Source: Rocky Mountain National Park.