Otter Tracks on the Ice
River otters (Lontra canadensis) are difficult to catch out on the open as they are very shy animals and are typically crepuscular, or mostly active during twilight hours at dawn and dusk. Although we have caught them on camera before, usually all you see are signs of their passing such as tracks, scat, or maybe a slide.
These tracks were spotted early in the morning coming across one of the ranch’s fish ponds. The paw prints are distinctive, but the tell-tale signs, of course, are the drag marks from the otter’s tail as it slides across the snow covered ice.
As carnivores, otter’s frequently move between spots of open water in the winter looking for fish. A pair of otters can clean out most of the fish in a small pond over the course of the winter.
The fresh snow shows that this particular otter came across a 4-acre pond from the inlet, where running water keeps the ice from closing up, to the outlet at the culvert shown below. The pipe leads to another pond, and probably fresh supplies of fish.