Status, Distribution, and Reproductive Characteristics of River Otters in Kentucky

  • Lacki, Michael (PI)
  • Dzialak, Matthew (CoI)

Grants and Contracts Details


Historically, river otters (Lontra.candensis) were distributed widely in Kentucky (Barbour and Davis 1974, Toweill and Tabor 1982). Otter populations declined during early 1900s due to unregulated harvest and anthropogenic destruction of riparian habitat. By the 1950s, otter distribution in Kentucky likely was limited to the Jackson Purchase physiographic region in the far western portion of the state (Barbour and Davis 1974, Cramer 1995). In 1991, the KDFWR initiated efforts to restore otter populations in suitable habitats throughout the central and eastern portions of Kentucky (Cramer 1995). During 1991-1994,355 otters were released among 14 sites in central and eastern Kentucky (Cramer 1995). At the present time it is too early to fully assess the success of otter reintroductions in central and eastern Kentucky. Nonetheless, incidences of sightings and reports of nuisance otters have increased recently in areas where otters were reintroduced throughout central and eastern portions of the state. Likewise, the remnant otter population in the western portion of the state appears to have become well-established (M. Cramer, pers. commun.). Increased ftequency ofsightings, incidental trappings, roadkills, and complaints of nuisance otters throughout Kentucky during the past several years likely are indicative of increasing populations. This proposal outlines research efforts to better determine the status, distribution, and reproductive characteristics of river otter populations in Kentucky. An overall goal of this research is to determine whether a carefully regulated otter harvest would be an appropriate management option in the Commonwealth. B. Objectives 1. Determine the distribution and relative abundance of otters in Kentucky. 2. Determine population demographics, including age and sex ratios, and reproductive characteristics of otter populations in Kentucky. 3. Submit annual reports and a final report upon project completion.
Effective start/end date7/1/036/30/04


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