2020 Wildlife Newsletter

Access digital copies of guides and regulations publications from the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

Issue link: http://digital.outdoornebraska.gov/i/1210080

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Continued from page 1 trapping caused the species to largely disappear from its native waters. Otters persisted in areas like Louisiana and Alaska, while in Nebraska they were extirpated (completely gone) from the rivers they inhabited just years before. In 1986, river otters were listed as an endangered species in Nebraska. This listing action brought with it not only laws to prohibit trapping, but it also kick started a reintroduction program lead by the Commission. Over the course of six years, more than 150 river otters were reintroduced to the Platte, Niobrara, South Loup, Elkhorn, Calamus, and Cedar rivers. In 2000, the river otter was downlisted from endangered to threatened in Nebraska because of substantial progress toward its recovery. But how do we know they're recovering? "Lots of research" said Sam Wilson, the NGPC furbearer program manager. "Biologists have been surveying for river otters in a combination of ways and actively monitored the establishment, expansion, and progression of the species across Nebraska. Research efforts included looking for signs of river otter presence from bridges, genetic testing, distribution modelling, as well as tracking river otter movements and survival by implanting transmitters and following them for years." Data show that river otter populations are healthy and have expanded beyond their reintroduction sites into most major waterways in the state. Genetic testing conducted from collecting river otter feces, or scat, has revealed that the central Platte River has some of the highest density of river otters in the United States. Survival is high and biologists expect the population to continue to grow. Not only are river otters recovering in our state, but they have also recovered in our neighboring states of Iowa, Missouri, and Kansas. This is a paramount example of wildlife conservation and could not have been accomplished without the Commission and long-term partnerships with private landowners, the Nebraska Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, The Nature Conservancy, the Nebraska Fur Harvesters, other conservation organizations, and donations to the Nebraska Wildlife Conservation Fund. This is an unprecedented conservation success story, and we can all be proud that the river otter is recovering in Nebraska's waters. ✔ River otters have recovered in Nebraska's waters since their first reintroduction in 1986. PHOTO BY NEBRASKALAND MAGAZINE 2 River Otters... The range of North American river otters in Nebraska has expanded greatly from the seven locations where biologists originally reintroduced them. MAP BY NEBRASKALAND MAGAZINE

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