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View Full Version : Otter Destruction & more...


Don Kirk
02-05-2013, 04:10 PM
We’re headed east this weekend to the Fly Fishing Show in Winston-Salem, NC. Long 7-hour drive from the bowels of Bamaland. I plan to attach my fly vise to the steering wheel to help keep my hands and eyes busy, especially when bisecting Atlanta.
New issue of Southern Trout Magazine (February/March) is up at www.southerntrout.com (http://www.southerntrout.com/). We came within four days of hitting the deadline. Either we hit it right for April, or floggings are in order.
Found this bit of otter new from the UK. Too cute.
A distraught couple was forced to remove 6,000 gallon pond from their garden after a hungry otter ate 200 prized fish worth $20,000. Linda and Alan Brown, both 60, owned the huge pond in Thetford, England that contained about 150 goldfish and 50 other fish, some weighing up to 25lbs
Children would feed the goldfish, koi carp, mirror carp and ghost carp, but when the couple returned home after a month-long visit to see their daughter in New Zealand last week they found that an otter had treated itself to a free meal. Half-eaten, rotting fish that were left sprawled on the decking around the pond, which has now been removed to avoid giving the otter any more to eat. The otter just ate the livers and the kidneys so it just left the carcasses of the fish all over the Brown’s garden and lawns of their neighbor.
Cheerio…

narcodog
02-05-2013, 08:26 PM
He left the best part to use as fertilizer in the garden. When I was a kid every carp we caught went into the neighbors flower garden

NDuncan
02-05-2013, 09:42 PM
When apex predators are faced with an over abundance if prey, occasionally they will eat just the 'choice parts' and leave the rest. Oddly if you up the story on the daily mail, you can see a picture if the 'pond' in question, nothing more than a fancified kiddy pool full of koi. Dog food fed fish. In the wild, facing harsher conditions, I doubt an otter can wreak this kind of havoc. Usually the evidence of otter predation of fish consists of finding scales in their scat, consistent with whole prey consumption rather than just killing for choice pieces of meat. It is a little bit reckless to jump to the conclusion that this example is representative of the main modes of otter predation. It's kinda like the fat people at cicis pizza. Do they bother eating the crusts? No! Why? Because no matter what there is plenty and never ending supply of cheese covered morsels. Well give an otter an all you can eat with no effort buffet and they will eat the best parts (to them, anyhow) and leave a big pile of 'crusts' to waste.

o2bfishin
02-05-2013, 09:43 PM
I guess that's the price one pays for living on the water. It's not just otters that cause destruction. We've lost about $2K's worth of trees to the beavers on the Clinch, and several others have been pruned. They really like leyland cypress. Another forum member lost most of his fruit trees right about the time they were really starting to bear. And another neighbor gave up feeding a local great blue heron her prize koi carp. The former pond is now a rock garden. And then there's the geese....:mad: I'm starting to feel like Bill Murray in Caddy Shack!

Don Kirk
02-06-2013, 10:27 AM
If making excuses for the instinctive ways of apex predators and lard-butt pizza eaters is comforting to you, then you will love the eminent arrival of wolves here in the not so distant future. The big bad wolves are roaring southward in numbers through Missouri and into Arkansas faster than Epsom salt scouring out the lower tract of a widow woman. Do you recall how our brilliant wildlife biologists told us back in the 1970s that there were no coyotes in Tennessee, just the occasional feral “coydog.” Tell me with a straight face that is not hilarious to recall—almost as funny as when the same brain trust tried to pass off the red wolf thingie. Talk about millions of dollars inserted into the anal vent of a wild hog!!
I used to spend a good bit of time in the Yukon. When I was not pestering pike and grayling, one of my favorite things was roaming the area in search of moose antlers. One year after a particularly bad winter with above average snow fall, I saw the results of when the local wolves went on a rampage. The wolves pretty near exterminated all of the moose in the area. They ran down the moose in the high snow, killed them, and the left the critters to move on to more killing. You call it eating the choice parts. Why do you think the ranchers and hunters in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and a couple of other states are so upset with the reintroduction of wolves?
Wolves kill game. Otters kill fish. Man has spent a couple thousand years trying to get rid of the wolves and otters. Man is the apex predator. Some members of our species that are not highly evolved, such as a knuckle dragger like me, want to catch all of the trout and not feel compelled gnaw on the dried out crust at CiCi’s. We dwellers at the shallow end of the gene pool prefer not to protect (or for that matter finance the protection of) wolves, otters, shark, rattlensnakes, brown recluse spiders, ticks, coyotes, copperheads, vampire bats, or leeches. Other than providing a few wildlife biologists their retirement, how has the reintroduction of otters benefited anything or anyone? Are we better of now than we were two decades ago when they were gone? Perhaps when wolves are a plentiful here as coyote, and I personally believe that will happen, popular tolerance of apex predators will wane.

NDuncan
02-06-2013, 10:40 AM
Man has spent a couple thousand years trying to get rid of the wolves and otters.

That doesn't mean it was the best thing for the ecosystem, and for the size of game as a whole.

Predators have a positive impact on the population of the prey species as a whole.

The people who end up complaining are always people trying to keep an unnatural number of raised animals in a small confined area - easy target for the predators. Otters can't wipe out a freestone stream but can decimate a catfish farm... Wolves and mountain lions didn't kill off the buffalo, but can destroy a sheep goat or cow farm. Why? An unnatural overabundance of prey in a confined area.

NDuncan
02-06-2013, 10:46 AM
Other than providing a few wildlife biologists their retirement, how has the reintroduction of otters benefited anything or anyone?

Really i didn't do that. They dumped and them and have never done any study on them since their release. Not like the elk reintroduction or the failed red wolf project.


Oh and you forgot the mountain lions. 10 years ago the farthest east they were was far west texas (in the south anyhow). Now they have spread to Louisiana, with more more and more encounters each year. So at that rate they should be getting here in about 12-15 years. The main reason for their rapid spread - wild hogs. So at least there's that.

whitefeather
02-10-2013, 12:19 PM
The wolves that were reintroduced into Yellowstone were of the sub-species, Canis lupus occidentalis, the largest of the grey wolf species, which gets nearly 100 lbs. larger than the original species (canis lupis irremotus). CI irremotus was not extirpated from the Canadian province of Alberta, so why wasn't it chosen to replace the original Yellowstone wolves, instead of the largest sub-species from the Artic regions?

The smaller wolf which was original to that area might have been a much better choice in the balance between wolf and elk, without as much damage to the elk herd and surrounding cattle, sheep, etc. Were they even needed? Some say yes, the elk were overgrazing the park and becoming sickly. Because of the overgrazing the beaver were disappearing, not creating the wetlands needed to replenish the grasses. Enter the coyote, which were also reintroduced and got out of hand. Perhaps the choice of the larger wolf was to trim the coyote packs also. The larger CI occidentalis, is reputed to "kill for sport", while the smaller, CI irremotus kills for survival.

Maybe this business of man trying to act out his "god complex" by balancing the ecosystem might work a tad better if he did his homework according to biological history and not according to his own political whims.

As for the hogs in the park (feral pigs and asian boars), they are both invasives, brought here by early settlers and years before that by the Spaniards. When does an invasive become a native? They do absolutely no good in the park or surrounding areas. Their impact is pure negative, from destroyed fauna to polluted streams. Why are they still allowed to multiply? And no, they are not "controlled", as we would be persuaded to believe. If the park service were really concerned about keeping the GSMNP a viable ecosystem, they would extirpate the wild hogs with bounties and hog hunts. The few professional hunters they employ can not even begin to keep up with the population. Crisis management doesn't solve problems, it just extends them. Just my two cents worth.

duckypaddler
02-10-2013, 05:22 PM
The wolves that were reintroduced into Yellowstone were of the sub-species, Canis lupus occidentalis, the largest of the grey wolf species, which gets nearly 100 lbs. larger than the original species (canis lupis irremotus). CI irremotus was not extirpated from the Canadian province of Alberta, so why wasn't it chosen to replace the original Yellowstone wolves, instead of the largest sub-species from the Artic regions?

The smaller wolf which was original to that area might have been a much better choice in the balance between wolf and elk, without as much damage to the elk herd and surrounding cattle, sheep, etc. Were they even needed? Some say yes, the elk were overgrazing the park and becoming sickly. Because of the overgrazing the beaver were disappearing, not creating the wetlands needed to replenish the grasses. Enter the coyote, which were also reintroduced and got out of hand. Perhaps the choice of the larger wolf was to trim the coyote packs also. The larger CI occidentalis, is reputed to "kill for sport", while the smaller, CI irremotus kills for survival.

Maybe this business of man trying to act out his "god complex" by balancing the ecosystem might work a tad better if he did his homework according to biological history and not according to his own political whims.

As for the hogs in the park (feral pigs and asian boars), they are both invasives, brought here by early settlers and years before that by the Spaniards. When does an invasive become a native? They do absolutely no good in the park or surrounding areas. Their impact is pure negative, from destroyed fauna to polluted streams. Why are they still allowed to multiply? And no, they are not "controlled", as we would be persuaded to believe. If the park service were really concerned about keeping the GSMNP a viable ecosystem, they would extirpate the wild hogs with bounties and hog hunts. The few professional hunters they employ can not even begin to keep up with the population. Crisis management doesn't solve problems, it just extends them. Just my two cents worth.


What would you suggest as a solution for pigs in the park? They hunt them, and while I agree with many of your points I don't see any easy solutions. I'm sure the park service would be thrilled if there were no pigs in the park:smile:

BlueRaiderFan
02-10-2013, 08:36 PM
I've never noticed a lot of damage in the park from hogs. I little rooting up the ground but nothing major.

NDuncan
02-10-2013, 10:53 PM
What would you suggest as a solution for pigs in the park? They hunt them, and while I agree with many of your points I don't see any easy solutions. I'm sure the park service would be thrilled if there were no pigs in the park:smile:

Release the swine flu?

Don Kirk
02-11-2013, 08:29 PM
I got involve with the NPS on pigs back in the early 1970s when Dr. Susan Braxton was compiling early data on these exotics. She told me then at you could never find a more perfect habitat for Eurasian wild pigs that the Southern Appalachian Mountains, and particularly the GSMNP. She’s been gone from park since the mid-1980s, but it was her research that determined that best way to curb pig numbers in the GSMNP was to understand on what, and where these animals fed at various times of the year.
It did not get a lot of publicity, but the NPS hired a bunch of professional hunter who were allowed roam throughout the park at night shooting the droppings out of as many porkers as they could find. Using Braxton’s meticulous research they coordinated annual hard and soft mast production to go right in a night and shoot them up. Insofar as I see a lot lest rooting damage these days as during the 1980s, I tend to think the shooting may still be going on.
Wild hogs are extremely difficult to manage. When food is plentiful the pigs will raise large liters as often as two to three times a year. When hardwood mast failures occur, pig numbers naturally drop. The bear hunters I talked to this fall were upset that that the hardwood mast crop in the GSMNP was so terrific that the usual number of bears in the park that venture out to pillage did not do that this year as they normally do. I would suspect the pigs are currently in a prolific mode.

whitefeather
02-12-2013, 09:08 PM
duckypaddler,

I'm not saying I have the perfect solution to the "hog" problem in the park, but simply stated, if the pigs, wild boars, and otters were treated like the wolves were out west back decades ago, up until the sixties, they wouldn't even exist in our vocabulary..

As for the damage the hogs do, not all of it can be seen with human eyes. A lot of the streams in the park are very polluted and the water unsafe to drink or use, without taking measures to purify and filter it. That's okay for humans, but what about the fish and other inhabitants of the streams. I don't know how it affects them, maybe nothing at all. I am not a biologist and I don't play one on TV.

Sure, there are professional hunters who go after them, but how many "hogs" are there and how many hunters are there and how many areas are there for the pigs to go to. They are invasives that can and will kill you if they have the opportunity. They do no good in the park ecosystem and everything they do, is destructive to it. They don't belong there.

whitefeather
02-12-2013, 09:27 PM
Don KIrk,

Your fact based post makes a lot of sense and is encouraging. I saw a report a while back that stated the park service for GSMNP has a cull quota (number) for the hogs which seemed small to me but I can't remember the actual number so I won't misstate it. Have you heard of anything like that?

If the park wanted to raise some funds for improvements, they could sponsor and hold the first bi-annual GSMNP Hog Roast and Barbecue weekend, charge a profit making fee for participation and solve a major problem at the same time. Just kidding!

NDuncan
02-12-2013, 09:53 PM
That's just what the park needs... More fees :rolleyes:

whitefeather
02-13-2013, 12:39 AM
That's just what the park needs... More fees :rolleyes:

I only suggested fees to eat so as to cover the expense of the hog roast, not fees for a normal function such as back country campsites, etc. If you went anywhere else to such an event, you'd pay to get in to eat and either you would or you wouldn't. Same here. Besides, I said I was only kidding. No way NPS could even do this without hiring a very large outside contractor and I doubt if it would even be remotely interested.

whitefeather
02-13-2013, 01:17 AM
Any program to extirpate the hogs from the park would automatically require the same program for the entirety of the states that have a hog problem and common borders with NC and TN. You might as well say, everywhere east of the Mississippi and it won't happen because the people of this country don't solve problems anymore, they just gripe about them till they get tired of griping and learn to live with them or ignore them as much as possible.