Vol. 38 (2015)
Research Project Ecology

River Otter Distribution and Food Habits in Grand Teton National Park as Part of an Ongoing Project in the GYE

Kelly J. Pearce
University of Maryland
Tom L. Serfass
Frostburg State University

Published 2015-01-01


Grand Teton National Park is part of the known range of the North American river otter, however not much is known about this semi-aquatic mammal within the park. The results presented here are part of a larger project to investigate the potential of the river otter (Lontra canadensis) to serve as an aquatic flagship (species that engender public support and action) for the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. River otters, known for their charismatic behavior have the potential to serve as an aquatic flagship species to promote conservation of aquatic ecosystems. The primary objective of this portion of the study was to identify river otter latrines on portions of the Snake River, between Flagg Ranch and Jackson Lake, and between Jackson Lake Dam and Pacific Creek, collect river otter scats to determine diet of the river otter, and employ remote cameras to determine activity patterns of the river otters. Between 20 June and 1 July 2015, 26 river otter latrines were identified during shoreline surveys, 186 river otter scats were collected, and cameras were deployed at 6 latrines between 7 July and 24 August 2015. River otter scats have been cleaned and prepared for analysis, but have not all been processed to date. Camera traps recorded 222 images, of which 7% (n = 14) were of carnivores, 70% (n = 155) were of non-carnivore mammals, and 9% (n = 22) were of birds. River otters were detected at 1 of the 6 latrines, a total of 5 independent times during the study.