My Woods, Waters & Wildlife column about river otters (Nature’s Clown Prince) in the July 2020 print version of Ohio Cooperative Living generated several questions and comments from readers around the state.
For instance, Pete Batch of North Central Electric Cooperative was ecstatic to see his first river otter in the wild:
“I read your river otter article and really enjoyed it. Just wanted to let you know that my wife and I were camping and doing some fishing at East Harbor State Park on Lake Erie the week of July 21 and we actually saw an otter playing. That was the first time we ever saw one in the wild, and I am 64 years old! It was very exciting to see him or her; couldn’t believe it — it was definitely an otter. You probably knew they were there, just wanted to let you know.”
Carolyn Allen, Holmes-Wayne Electric Cooperative
Q: I was so excited to read the river otter article. I can’t wait to see one in the wild! Where would be the best places on the Killbuck Marsh Wildlife Area in Wayne and Holmes counties to possibly view them? And what season of the year is best to visit?
A: According to Dennis Solon, area manager of Killbuck Marsh Wildlife Area, river otters, like gold nuggets, are where you find them. “Otters have been observed on most sections of Killbuck, but due to their nocturnal nature, are not often seen on a regular basis except during winter,” Solon says. “During extreme cold, you can sometimes see open places in Killbuck Creek where otters have pulled carp or bowfin up onto the ice and left just the uneaten heads of the fish. Winter is the best time to see otters, but late fall and early spring, when vegetation is low, can also be good. Slowly drive the roads or quietly walk along the marsh dikes early and late in the day. Even though otter sign is plentiful at Killbuck, I may only see otters every two or three years.”
Sam Smith (no co-op name provided)
Q: According to your article, Ohio has five counties in which river otters have not yet been seen. What are those counties?
A: Clark, Hancock, Lorain, Miami, and Shelby counties.
Bev Holland, Pioneer Electric Cooperative
Q: I was wondering if any otters have been introduced into Montgomery County, near the Stillwater River that runs near Englewood Dam and Aullwood Audubon Nature Center? That is where I teach children’s classes. Would love to see one here. I have seen a beaver in the past. Thanks for a very fun and informative article!
A: Although river otters were not reintroduced into western Ohio, they have since expanded their population there. And yes, they have been spotted in Montgomery County, Bev, so you and your kids be sure to keep your eyes open while afield!