Accidental Bycatches Identify Rare Returns of River Otters to PEI
The river otter (Lontra canadensis) has been extirpated from Prince Edward Island since at least the beginning of the 20th century, largely through loss of habitat. However, once in a while, an otter may show up in the province, having swum from New Brunswick or Nova Scotia across the Northumberland Strait (13 km at its narrowest). An otter was caught in a trap set for beavers in the eastern part of the Island in 1973. In fall 2016, early 2017, and spring 2017, three otters, all large males, were found in beaver traps, one in the western part and two in the eastern part of the Island. Interestingly, genetic analysis has determined that these three otters were unrelated to each other and that, presumably, each would have come on its own. It is therefore very possible, if not likely, that more otters are currently living on Prince Edward Island. If so, it is very nice to think that this species is trying to reclaim some of its former habitat.
Submitted by: Pierre-Yves Daoust, Regional Director, CWHC Atlantic