Advisor: Drs. Clayton Nielsen and Eric Schauber
Due to a combination of habitat loss, pollution, and overharvesting, North American river otters (Lontra canadensis) were extirpated from most of Illinois by the 1970’s. Reintroduction efforts that occurred in the 1990’s were highly successful and resulted in the removal of river otters from the state threatened and endangered list in 2004. The first river otter trapping season since 1929 began in 2012 and has continued every year since.
As a species that is valued both for its charismatic qualities among wildlife watchers and for its high quality pelt, maintaining healthy river otter populations in Illinois is important. The goal of my research is to examine the affects of fur trapping on the survival and dispersal of river otters in southern Illinois. I am trapping river otters at two study sites and surgically implanting them with radio transmitters. Using radio telemetry we will be able to establish their home ranges, dispersal distances, and determine causes of mortality, when they occur.