Illinois River Otters

April  04, 2013

The first river otter trapping season in Illinois in more than 80 years ended this week. 

Bob Bluett from the Illinois DNR said for many years the river otter was on the state's endangered species list. But since a re-introduction to the state in the 1990s, their population has boomed.

"So we had a tremendous increase and along with that increase we were also starting to get concerns from private land owners," said Bluett, "About river otters causing damage in ponds because they eat fish. And it's kind of disconcerting to go down to your favorite fishing hole and find a bunch of fish heads laying on the shore." 

Bluett said the otter population was expected to reach 30-thousand by next year, which could have hurt other animals.

"We're also concerned about the dramatic increase and what that might spell for other kinds of wildlife," he said. "For example, river otters will also eat mussels, or some people will call them fresh water clams. Several of which are endangered in the state."

Bluett says the DNR hopes trappers will take about 10 to 15 percent of the otter population. His goal is to have about 15 to 20-thousand river otters in Illinois, many more than the one hundred that lived in the state three decades ago.