(Colleen) Swimming and frolicking in and around
the waters of New York state, this member of the weasel family
is highly energetic and endearing. It’s the river otter–a sleek and furry mammal
that lives in rivers, streams, ponds and marshes.
River otters are such a lively bunch, they are sometimes referred to as “brown torpedoes.”
(Paul Jenson) The river otter is a semi-aquatic mammal that lives throughout much of New York
State and it really can be described
as an animal with a very long slender body, large webbed feet and a large muscular tail.
It also has a high metabolic rate, so a lot of its activity is dominated by hunting.
Otters also have play activity, so they slide in the mud and in the snow
and they also have water play activities. (Colleen) Two hundred years ago,
the playful river otter was common throughout most
of New York State, but unregulated trapping and habitat destruction contributed to its
decline, and a part of New York’s native biodiversity
was in jeopardy. But in the mid 1990s, a highly organized restoration
effort set out to change all that.
(Emcee) I want to welcome you to an historic release of river otters,
it’s the first river otter release in Monroe County’s history.
(Colleen) The New York River Otter Project dedicated
its efforts to returning the river otter to the waters of central and western New York.
The group of concerned conservationists, biologists and veterinarians received cooperation
from licensed trappers carefully trained to capture and handle
the river otter for the restoration process. Public otter releases were held throughout
the state and by the year 2000, 279 river otters were
given a successful homecoming.
(Dennis Money) I think initially when the project was started,
the main goal was to restore the river otter back to central and western
New York State, its former home.
Along the way we found that a second objective was
the education of the general public of New York State
on the value of restoring this wild animal back to western New York State.
And the fact that young people especially are learning more
about not only the river otter, but also the value of habitat.
And the fact that it’s really good to have a space available
to bring back animals like this. (Colleen) With much of the actual restoration
effort already complete, the focus now lies on tracking
and monitoring the otter population and their distribution across the state–
its part of the ongoing commitment to the success
of otters in New York’s waters. (Dennis) Why do this project? A lot of people
ask us that. I think the reason that we’re doing it,
and the reason why so many people buy into this project
is the fact that mankind was the reason that the animals disappeared from central and western
New York State to begin with. And I think that’s what makes people feel
good about this project,
because they’re doing something positive. And bringing back an animal that will brighten
up the day of anyone who sees it in the streams and wetlands
of western and central New York State.