INDIANAPOLIS – The reintroduction of river otters to Indiana has been so successful that state wildlife officials say the critters’ appetites are causing problems for some pond owners.
The otters were nonexistent in Indiana by 1942 until a reintroduction program began in 1995 when about 300 were transplanted from Louisiana to 12 sites in northern and southern Indiana, according to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources
River otters, which were removed from the state’s endangered species list in 2005, are now found in more than 80 percent of Indiana counties, including those in northeast Indiana.
“It’s now been seven years since delisting, and all our information indicates the otter population continues to expand,” said Scott Johnson, a nongame biologist for the wildlife agency.
Some Indiana pond owners, however, are complaining that the aquatic mammals are gobbling up the fish in their ponds. The agency said it received 34 complaints last year about otters eating fish in private ponds, commercial fish hatcheries or causing other damage.
“One pond owner may enjoy watching otters, while a different landowner may find them to be a nuisance and is upset by the loss of fish in his pond,” DNR biologist Shawn Rossler said.
The wildlife agency said the improvements in water quality around the state have benefited the river otter, whose diet consists primarily of fish, along with mussels, crayfish, reptiles and amphibians.