Otters return to the Detroit River for the first time in over 100 years

otter

River otters are making a return to the Detroit river for the first  time since the early 1900s.

The furry critters have been locally extinct for over 100 years, due to fur trading and other environmental factors like industrialization surrounding the auto industry. 

John Hartig is a Visiting Scholar at the Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research at UWindsor. 

He notes, since otters are picky about the water quality of their homes, it’s a good sign for the region.

“They’re considered an indicator species. So they’re an indicator of clean water. If the otters are back in the Detroit River, that’s a good sign, because we live in the same ecosystem they do.”

He says, the odds are good that the local otter population will continue to climb.

“You know, when they came back to Toronto it was a similar issue, and it took a decade or more, but now you can see river otters up and down the Toronto waterfront, another big urban area," he began. "So, if they can do it there, we think they can survive here.”

Otters aren’t the only animals that have returned.

“Well I think we’ve been on quite a run for the Detroit River. If you go back to the 1960’s, there were no bald eagles, or peregrine falcons, or osprey. Lake sturgeon and lake whitefish were gone, along with the walleye population,” said Hartig.

Hartig also adds, otters were re-introduced in Ohio back in the 80s, before their adventurous nature brought them all the way to Point Pelee, and now, to the Detroit River. 

- with files from AM800's Patty Handysides