Have You Seen a River Otter? Researchers Want to Know
After nearly a century’s absence, the iconic river otter is making a comeback in the Chicago area and researchers are examining how they’re adjusting to urban living, and what more can be done to support their return.
The Urban River Otter Research Project – working closely with our partners at the Forest Preserves of Cook County – is evaluating how river otters are adapting to increased urbanization. You can help the otter project gather vital data by sending them information about any otter sightings you spot. They offer an easy-to-use online form. And, be sure to share any otter photos/video (of any Chicago-Calumet river wildlife) with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The North American river otter (Lontra Canadensis) is the ambassador species of Friends of the Chicago River. The otter is well adapted for semi-aquatic living, both on the land and in the water, and is a highly social and playful creature that is very sensitive to environmental pollution.
“Because they need clean water and healthy fish and mussel populations, river otters are a good indicator species by which we can measure our progress over the last 40+ years,” said Friends’ Executive Director Margaret Frisbie who spoke with a researcher from the Urban River Otter Research Project. “As a result, spotting an otter is thrilling scientifically speaking and, frankly, it is also plain old fun.”
The otter project is closely affiliated with the Urban Coyote Research Project. Additional partners for the otter project include The Ohio State University, Max McGraw Wildlife Foundation, Cook County Department of Animal and Rabies Control, Brookfield Zoo, the University of Illinois, and the USDA.