Monitoring Utah River Ecosystems with LLPA and the DWR
Tuesday, January 31, 2023, written by Ashley Mitchell
With support from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, Loveland Living Planet Aquarium has been surveying the Provo River since February 2022 for the Otter Conservation Project. The Aquarium has trail cameras along the Provo River to document a glimpse of the elusive North American river otter and has trained citizen scientists who monitor the survey sites every two weeks. This project aims to collect data on where river otters live in Utah to determine the ecosystem’s health and how we can help if needed.
North American river otters are native to Utah and are an ‘indicator species’ that help determine the ecosystem’s overall health. This means that if an otter is present or thriving, the ecosystem is healthy and can support them. If they are absent or struggling, the ecosystem cannot support them and may be unhealthy. Based on this information, we can look at options to help the ecosystem heal and get what it needs.
In the spring and summer, we confirmed three different otter sightings! Most recently, we saw two otters running and swimming together in the same area. When you see groups of otters, it is often a mother with her pups, including adult pups from past seasons, or a group of male bachelors. We are not sure what the relationship between these two otters is, but we are so happy to have caught a glimpse of them! In the coming months, the Aquarium is looking to expand from the Provo River to Utah Lake, Jordan River, and Strawberry Reservoir. The more information we have, the more we can help our living planet.
For more information on how you can support our Otter Conservation Project, please visit our donate page.