State Wildlife Grant - T-12-R

Project Title

Distribution and Abundance of River Otters and other Meso-carnivores in Eastern ND

Target Species

River otters, Fishers, and Spotted Skunks

Timeline

Jan. 2005 – Dec. 2009

Investigators

Dr. Tom Serfass, Frostburg State University

Description

River otters are thought to be re-colonizing portions of North Dakota. However, no formal research has been conducted to evaluate the actual status or distribution of river otters in the state. Also, no effective methodologies have been established for monitoring long-term trends in river otter distributions in North Dakota. This project proposes to employ a combination of GIS and digital technologies to develop reliable methods for estimating the distribution and abundance of river otters in eastern North Dakota and to establish a basis for ongoing monitoring of recovering populations. Consequently, these areas will be the focus for placement of track-plate stations and camera traps to detect meso-carnivores (in addition to river otters), with special emphasis on evaluating the presence of fishers and spotted skunks. The project also will focus on evaluating activity patterns and activity centers for river otters in the region. This information will be incorporated into an outreach program for educating the public about river otters and associated aquatic conservation issues. The intent of the meso-carnivore survey will be to obtain baseline data as an initial step for conservation planning and identifying specific research needs.