Evaluating the Distribution of River Otters and Beavers throughout the Missouri and Souris River Drainages in North Dakota (SWG T2-6-R)


Virtually nothing is known about the status and distribution of river otters (Lontra canadensis) or American beavers (Castor canadensis) in central and western North Dakota (i.e., the Missouri and Souris River drainages) or human dimensions issues related to their management, This project applied social science survey techniques to determine attitudes of key stakeholders towards otters and beavers throughout the study area. Traditional field surveys (riparian surveys for otter and beaver sign near bridges) to determine if otters occupy drainages in those portions of the state, and how the known population of American beavers were distributed in the region. We also used questionnaire evaluations of conservation professionals in the study area to determine if they had knowledge of the presence of otters. No evidence of river otters was detected during field surveys, nor did emulations of conservation professionals suggest any evidence of an otter population. We also evaluated the efficacy of olfactory lures for attracting river otters in controlled captive settings (i.e., zoos). The purpose of this project was to determine which lures would be most effective for attracting otters to remote camera stations as another way to monitor presence/absence of the species.

Authors and Contributors

Dr. Tom Serfass, Frostburg State University

Research Category

Target Species

River Otters, Beavers

Approximate Completion Date




SWG otter beaver distribution missouri souris drainage
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