Originally Posted by flyman
Not a big fan of otters either. The problem with reintroducing an animal like that is it has few natural predators and under ideal conditions they will over populate. Unless they leave the park they can't be trapped or harvested and the park is often reluctant to enact measures to correct the situation. Just my opinion, I enjoy seeing them in their habitat as much as anyone. I guess it's just selfishness on my part. I do think they impact the very species we as fly fishermen are targeting.
Otters are an apex predator. They don't have very many natural predators anyway-regardless of reintroduction or otherwise. You are right - they do impact trout, but i don't that impact is necessarily all negative. In fact they do fill exactly the niche they need to. Trout have very few natural predators in the water and do in fact overpopulate many of the streams in the smokies -leading to stunted growth and a small average trout size. There may be some shift in population profiles, but I doubt the overall effect is very noticeable in the GSMNP. A single flood probably has a bigger impact on a stream than all the otters.