West Virginia Project
River Otter Population Dynamics and Spatial Ecology in West Virginia
June 2023 - December 2025
- West Virginia Division of Natural Resources
River otters (Lontra canadensis) are native to West Virginia, but experienced population declines in the 19th and 20th centuries because of habitat fragmentation, water pollution, and unregulated trapping. Following reintroduction efforts in the 1980's and 1990's otter populations in the state are now considered to be stable or increasing. To best inform future otter management plans in West Virginia, accurate estimates of otter survival and harvest rates are needed. Additionally, the diet of river otters is primarily comprised of various fish species. To better determine the potential effects of river otters on fishing opportunities in the state provided by fish stocking, more information is needed on the fine-scale movements of river otters during fish stocking periods. This project is a collaboration between the WV Coop Unit and the WV Division of Natural Resources (WVDNR). This research will provide the WVDNR with information on river otter populations in the state, which will help inform future management decisions.