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  #41  
Old 01-23-2011, 10:02 AM
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silvercreek silvercreek is offline
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Here's a link to more than you ever wanted to know about otters. Daily food intake is around 15% of body weight or about a few pounds. They prey most on bottom dwelling fish that prefer to hold still as danger approaches unlike trout that tend to bolt at the first sign of danger. Note that trout become more susceptible during spawning. Personally I have seen otters in the Stones River in mid Tennessee eating bass and stocked trout.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northern_river_otter
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  #42  
Old 01-23-2011, 10:23 AM
Jim Casada Jim Casada is offline
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FishNHunt--Excellent points, and it is pretty obvious you concur with my view on most things otter-related (and otherwise). One correction or addendum--I doubt that the otters in the Little River came from state stockings. The Park service did its own widespread otter stocking. I don't recall off the top of my head whether Little River was one of the streams they stocked, but they released scores of otters on perhaps a dozen watersheds. You are exactly right about otters playing--I've watched it numerous times--and they will, in the right situations, readily kill for the fun of it, not just to eat. They are also an exceptionally efficient predator.
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  #43  
Old 01-23-2011, 08:23 PM
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From Silvercreek's link, under the paragraph heading, Hunting:

"Even such fast-swimming species as trout become lethargic in extremely cold water, with a commensurate increase in their vulnerability to predation. As such, careful consideration of any threatened, endangered, or fish species of special interest is warranted prior to reintroduction of otters to a watershed."

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  #44  
Old 01-23-2011, 08:34 PM
FishNHunt FishNHunt is offline
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I don't know how to get the pictures from my phone to the computer but, I have some pictures of baby otters in Chilhowee lake that allowed me to actually touch them. They were at the power house and I whistled to them mimicing the calls that I've heard them do. They just sat there while I pulled the boat right up to them. I began to touch them and they showed no sign of fear so I kept "messing" with them and they would whistle and I would mimic it and then momma showed up. She shot from under my boat and onto the rock in a blink of an eye. She didn't much like her babies making friends with the big guy. I've never got into my boat so fast. On a side note about otters. They will (because I've watched it happen) catch ground squirrels and mice. Another time on Chilhowee I heard an aweful rucus under the rocks along the bank and an otter came out carrying a ground squirrel and another time I watched one slide off the bank with a rat. I've also been told that they will catch and eat beaver kits. I would guess they could seeing how I caught an otter that was just shy of 30# and 54 inches long.


It makes me wonder if the mink population is going down because of the growth and compition of the otters?

I look at the "fact" that otters don't eat alot of trout like this. If you have a river like the upper reaches of the Little River and the majority of the sustainable sized fish for an otter are trout and otters are prolific there then you can bet your last penny they are readily catching plenty of trout. They won't make a home where they are starving todeath.... no animal, fish or bird will. They go where the food is plentiful and living is easiest.
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  #45  
Old 01-23-2011, 10:06 PM
Jim Casada Jim Casada is offline
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FishNHunt--They will definitely eat minks and the suggestion from some folks that otters eat only crayfish and maybe the occasional sucker is, as you indicate, ludicrous. They are eating trout in the Park and, I fear, will continue to do so at an accelerating pace as they eliminate easier caught fish such as red horse, hog suckers, and minnows (alll have noticeably decline on the N. C. side in the last decade).
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  #46  
Old 01-24-2011, 02:17 PM
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whitefeather whitefeather is offline
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The article suggests that trout become the "specialty of the house" in the cold winter months as they would probably be the most abundant concentrated source of food and easier to catch when they school up in the deep pools, especially in years of low water conditions.

With the heavy snows the park has endured this winter and others, other critters such as mice, rats, squirrels, etc. would be somewhat more difficult to find and catch, although I'm sure otters have a keen sense of smell and could do so. But otters are opportunistic feeders and because of their appetites the easiest opportunity would seem to be trout!

The very fact that they are river otters and build their dens on the banks of streams speaks volumes about their dining preferences.

Here's a worrisome note: what other animal could be introduced to thin out the otters if they become recognized as a problem by park officials? Alligators? Just saying....

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