As you may know my home is deep in the Ozark Mountains, on a beautiful, wild drainage that flows into the Lower Buffalo River. The diversity of mammals that i have documented by visual sightings, and game camera footage is impressive (including bears and cougars)- but one of the most common species I encounter, and the one I admire the most is the river otter. Since the 1700s, otters have been widely hunted, primarily for their pelts, and were nearly eradicated from Arkansas. A strong comeback has taken place due to strict hunting and trapping regulations. The following are some images and footage of resident otters on my property.
Image from a fall morning in my pond. Although the otters are shy, I can approach to a reasonable distance by walking when they are underwater looking for food, and freezing when they surface. Eventually they notice me and appear very curious.
River otters are one of the 55 species of mammals in the very wild and intact ecosystems that I call home. Through patience, and respect, I have been thrilled at the encounters and photography opportunities that I have been awarded in my own backyard. Though loved for their playful and entertaining behaviors, otters are often criticized and persecuted for their impact on fish populations, but it is important to realize that are an integral cog in the natural balance of our native watersheds. When near a watershed, from Florida to Alaska, keep an eye out for river otters. If you are lucky you will awarded with a sighting of one of our most charismatic native animals!