As I eagerly readied the kids for the bus I imagined all the tracking awaiting me just outside the door in the fresh powdery snow. My goal was otter and I was not disappointed. I not only came across the tracks I did not photograph yesterday (I chose to leave my camera home) but found fresh tracks crossing my path!
Note to self~ dogs will need to stay home for this adventure. Nothing worse then the perfect set of tracks and your eager to please aussie bouncing back and forth across them! To give the dogs credit they are the ones who alerted me to the otters return by finding the scat pile by the waterfall in the beginning of March. (and rolling in it of course)
So it is confirmed the river otter has decided to make Into The Woods Farm's surrounding forests and wetlands it's home.
Let me back track for a moment. Last fall we found that beavers had come back to the large swamp and built their lodge. They had created an amazing habitat for themselves by damning the stream and filling the swamp. We have had Great Blue Heron, Wood Ducks, Snow Goose, just to mention a few we have seen. With beaver back it was exciting to observe their behaviors and photo document their work. However that will be another post to come.
So for now let me share our otter adventure.
March 9th was the first slide marks down by the water fall after a fresh snowfall. Decided to set the trail cam up but never caught anything on it. I have been looking for tracks, scat, and slides all month and was very excited when I came upon the fresh tracks yesterday.
I am so excited to learn about these critters by experience. Tracks are fresh and just waiting for me to follow to see where the otter will lead me! Keep checking back for updates.
Weasel family has five toes on the front and hind feet. The mustelids, or weasel family, include the river otter, fisher, mink, ermine, long-tailed weasel, and short-tailed weasel.
A little about the river otter from the NYS DEC website really confirmed all my assumptions about their return.
Scientific Name: Lontra canadensis
For more information on river otters in New York State visit the DEC site.
The North American river otter is a member of the mustelid or weasel family Males are generally larger than females, 44 inches and 38 inches total length, respectively. Body weight ranges from 10 - 30 pounds, and is likely dependent on age and dietary limitations.
More sites with information on River Otter.
According to NYS DEC historically, river otter could be found in all watersheds of New York, and declines were attributed to unregulated harvest, habitat destruction, and water pollution.
Life history studies have shown that otter are dependent upon permanent watersheds, and otter may be found in rivers, lakes ponds, small streams, marshes and other inland wetlands. Suitable habitat will exhibit a high percentage of emergent vegetation, or in the case of natural waterways, expansive riparian corridors. Throughout most of their range, there is a close relationship between beaver and river otter populations, indicated by a positive relationship between annual trapper harvests of the two species.