Evaluating river otter (Lontra canadensis) translocation success: Post-release monitoring via olfactory attractants and intraperitoneal transmitters, and local anglers’ attitudes (SWG T-12-R)
The success of translocations, the intentional release of wild-caught animals for the purpose of restoring or augmenting a historic population, is highly variable. Therefore, evaluating translocations is important to the success of future conservation efforts and management techniques. The North American river otter (Lontra candensis) once inhabited every US state except Hawaii, but was extirpated from much of its original range due to human encroachment, habitat destruction, and overharvesting. Since 1976, reintroduction projects have been initiated in 22 states. Because of their elusive nature, it is difficult to obtain accurate, long-term data on reestablished otter populations. Exploring strategies for remotely monitoring translocated river otters will help biologists to gather accurate information on the species’ local life history patterns and conservation status. Additionally, communicating with local people and assessing public attitudes toward wildlife translocations can help guide management decisions and further ensure that reestablished populations remain locally stable. This thesis comprises 3 studies related to evaluating river otter translocation efforts. The first investigates the efficacy of olfactory lures at attracting captive river otters in order to predict how they may increase otter visitations to remote tracking devices, thereby allowing biologists to obtain information on existing and reestablished otter populations. The second evaluates the use of intraperitoneal transmitters for monitoring translocated river otters; and the third assesses Pennsylvania anglers’ attitudes toward river otter reintroductions within the state.