Archive for Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Otter spotted in wetlands waters

Critter not seen in these parts for a century; sighting shows restoration projects working

George Frazier and his daughter, Chloe, captured a northern river otter on film at the Baker Wetlands on Friday. The species was last seen in Douglas County in 1904. The Lawrence father and daughter are pictured on Tuesday at the wetlands just south of Lawrence.

George Frazier and his daughter, Chloe, captured a northern river otter on film at the Baker Wetlands on Friday. The species was last seen in Douglas County in 1904. The Lawrence father and daughter are pictured on Tuesday at the wetlands just south of Lawrence.

March 5, 2008

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Welcome back, otter

The river otter was nearly wiped out along with the state's beaver population in the early 1900s. But now they're making a comeback, and as 6News reporter Cory Smith learned, they're calling the Baker Wetlands home. Enlarge video

Otter in Baker Wetlands

The northern river otter hasn't been seen in Douglas County for more than 100 years, but they're making a new home in the Baker Wetlands. Enlarge video

George Frazier and his daughter, Chloe, were walking along a path near the Baker University Wetlands when they noticed some odd animal tracks.

"There was a lot of snow along the creek," he said. "We looked and saw sort of a Morse code pattern, where you get a slide and then some footprints and another slide."

With permission from Baker University, the software engineer for Cadence Design Systems set up some wildlife cameras to catch a glimpse of the animal.

"We got a bunch of pictures of coyotes and beavers and stuff, and on the third night we got a picture of an otter," said Frazier, who is writing a book on Kansas wildlife.

What he found was a northern river otter, which hasn't been seen in Douglas County for more than 100 years, state wildlife officials said Tuesday.

Frazier said the otter population was almost "wiped out" in the 1700s and 1800s when the "fur trapping trade was at its peak."

In the early 1980s, "Kansas acquired 17 otters and released them in Chase County," said Mike McFadden, of the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks. But he suspects that "most otters we see inhabiting the eastern third of Kansas today are dispersing from Missouri," which has re-established a healthy population of the amphibious mammal.

McFadden said Frazier's otter most likely migrated from Missouri. "The streams are their highway," he said. "They'll follow the streams and mostly feed on fish."

Otters are also known for their human-like bathroom habits. "They have latrines, so they go to the bathroom in the same place," said Frazier.

The Baker Wetlands have been the object of a debate on whether they should be preserved or moved to make way for an extension of Kansas Highway 10, the South Lawrence Trafficway. "This is a pretty special place that it can have a rare mammal here," Frazier said.

6News intern Cory Smith can be reached at 832-6335.

Comments

Paul Decelles 7 years, 6 months ago

I have a soft spot for otters and I hope it is an otter. But in the video the neck doesn't look as long as an otter's and the base of the tail is not as broad as I would expect.

But maybe...just maybe.

sman 7 years, 6 months ago

Well those pictures look like an otter but that video is of a Muskrat. Here is a link to a hi rez picture of a Muskrat swimming. Compare it to the video portion of the "Otter" swimming.

http://www.spa.usace.army.mil/opsphotos/ops%20photo%202005/Natural%20Resources/MuskratSwimming%20in%20Pond.ChaffeeCounty.Co.June05.Van%20Truan.jpg

sman 7 years, 6 months ago

Now that I have had a cup of coffee I wish to clarify my original post. I am not saying Otters have not come back. The Photos that look to be taken by the family look like an otter to me. Watching the Video that does not look like an Otter in my opinion in looks like a Muskrat. I could be be very wrong and I mean no offense

50YearResident 7 years, 6 months ago

(Note) The top Otter photo is from another source as credited if you click on the picture. Some may think it is from the wetlands and it is not.

I wonder if George is for or against the by/pass road going through the wetlands? Maybe he could get a couple of pictures of the small green frog that lives there.

KsTwister 7 years, 6 months ago

We watched otters year after year as a kid here. On a few secluded creeks they made their mud slides and watched them play and grow. The beavers did not care much for their antics though. As usually every year there were four or five in the group I would not say they were totally wiped out. Played havoc with the good fishing holes though. We were taught to leave them alone and we did sneak up to watch them. The muskrats we set traps for to keep the numbers down in the lake. As I am not 100 years old I can produce another eight persons who can vouch we used to watch them in Douglas County. Even fish and game rangers knew where they were. Go figure.

beeline 7 years, 6 months ago

right_thinker (Anonymous) says: This otter raise some questions about the SLT.

I say... Who put him there?

Jean1183 7 years, 6 months ago

A couple of years ago I reported to KDWP that I had seen an otter in the creek that runs east out of the wetlands. Guess they didn't believe my report. One reason I quit filling out their "surveys" they mail me every year.

vegetablegirl 7 years, 6 months ago

Great job George! Great picture of you and Chloe. Her Raintree friends will be very excited!

KsTwister 7 years, 6 months ago

Nice to see the muskrat get his film debut too.

tao7 7 years, 6 months ago

The video is a muskrat. And could the otter be mistaken for a mink. There are a few mink around the wetlands and they look a lot like otters. They have the same slides in and out of the canals. I watched one kill a duck once and drag it to it's hole so I got a pretty good look. I hope it's otter though, that would really be pretty cool.

BrianR 7 years, 6 months ago

"This otter raise some questions about the SLT."

Cripes! A talking otter!!

gr 7 years, 6 months ago

"Kansas acquired 17 otters and released them in Chase County,"

Releasing exotic animals, huh?

Maybe someone should release a few alligators. Or piranhas.

Bladerunner 7 years, 6 months ago

Quick! Pave the wetlands before they multiply!

KLATTU 7 years, 6 months ago

"The state and Gov. just like to pick on you liberals idoits..."

Leave it to a conservative idiot to misspell "idiot".

flyin_squirrel 7 years, 6 months ago

Two opossums and one rabbit seen dead on 23rd St.. Officials say they would have survived if the SLT was finished.

BigPrune 7 years, 6 months ago

Should we expect to be seeing the Mountain Lion, Gray Wolf, Black Bear, or American Bison anytime soon in the the Baker Wetlands?

sjschlag 7 years, 6 months ago

there's rumors of a Mountain Lion on west campus.

doc1 7 years, 6 months ago

This is cool. Hope they don't use this as a political pull to stop the bypass from being built.

cowboy 7 years, 6 months ago

Cows and horses sighted near wetlands , cows muttering something about chiken , horses heard saying if you let one otter in then the whole neighborhood will turn into a big mudslide.

fsbchuck 7 years, 6 months ago

Several weeks ago I saw an animal in that vicinity, but from a windshield view, I would consider the possibility it was a mink. Not as large as an otter, and dragging some mammal prey across the ice. They would leave similar tracks and exhibit behaviors common to otters. From the photos posted here, it's a bit difficult to tell. But, consider the mink as a possibility?

Claire Williams 7 years, 6 months ago

Anonymous user

northtown (Anonymous) says:

"The frog is gone,you have go west of garnett but lives on private land,otter?will be gone if that is what is it when we have another drought,this not a wetlnd,a mudhole,what is going on in this litte chicken raising town anyway,wake Lawrence and don't worry about your mudhole they will never build that highway or probably finish 59 either.The state and Gov. just like to pick on you liberals idoits and give you something to fight about. Think about it,and look at all the past fight nobodby ever wins,they just go away!!!!!!!!!"

Northtown, did you have a bit too much whiskey with your coffee this morning?

Alia Ahmed 7 years, 6 months ago

I'm in the middle of the road (pun intended) about the proposed path for the rest of the bypass, but there are certainly so humorous posts today. I liked the one about the otter raising questions for sure. It made me chuckle.

Frederic Gutknecht IV 7 years, 6 months ago

I was wondering where Swimbo got off to... He must have escaped from the restored wetlands I've set up in the basement restroom. I just figured he was hiding under the old tractor tire or beaver carcass but his kippered herring snacks have gone untouched for awhile.

HERE Swimbo Swimbo Swimbo!

By the way, Swimbo is not an otter. He's a cross between a black-footed ferret, muskrat, mountain beaver, dachshund, mink, a giant river otter from Brazil and the furred Martian ice canal snake. I whipped him up in my basement rec room which I converted to a genetic mutation lab.

Note: If anyone needs a furred snake I have one to sell. I'm thinking of dismantling the Martian frozen sea scape I assembled in the old laundry room in my basement.

Shardwurm 7 years, 6 months ago

I saw a Conservative in Lawrence too.

I heard the Republican Party released a dozen of them last fall in Douglas County.

Frederic Gutknecht IV 7 years, 6 months ago

Shardwurm says: I saw a Conservative in Lawrence too. I heard the Republican Party released a dozen of them last fall in Douglas County.


You're lucky to have seen any. They're cannibalistic. Most of the DG Co. conservatsauri were eaten by others in the first few hours after being released. They do smell bad, too, and have caustic personalities so they rarely group together except to watch the rape and pillage displays doled out by their masters.

Be careful out there, though. Once they kill or damage enough of their fellows and the environment they begin blaming and eating everything. If you smell cheap cologne or hear lies, RUN! Do not wait to actually catch a glimpse of one of these vile and hideously ugly creatures!~)

FatTony 7 years, 6 months ago

Aren't they filming Musckrat Manor in the wetlands this season?

Scott Drummond 7 years, 6 months ago

"Why are the environmentalists over Lawrence way not finding out who's doing the trashy thing? Why isn't the radical environmentalists faction of the greater Lawrence area not cleaning up this disgusting mess?"

Hordes of stupid people create such messes whenever they gather in a single location. Kansas City to the east and Topeka to the West possess an abundant supply of such thoughtless creatures busily fouling ever inch of their surroundings. Building a multilane trafficway will attract ever greater numbers to Lawrence. Building it through the Wetlands makes it an even greater harm because in addition to attracting more people to foul our environment, it has the effect of actually ruining the Wetlands by its very existence. Opposing the SLT is a way of PREVENTING further trashing of Lawrence and Douglas County, so you should be grateful to those in our community who have the brains and good sense to be environmentally sensitive.

And why do you suppose it is the job of the environmentally active in the community to clean up such messes? Perhaps those who create such conditions (developers, suppliers, political cronies, etc.) should be made to do so. They are, after all, the cause.

Hoots 7 years, 6 months ago

That's just HELLA cool. I can't think of a more chillin beast than an Otter. I'd way rather have one than a dog. I want to hug it...and kiss it...and call it George!!! If you don't get that you didn't watch enough cartoons as a kid or you are too young. So be it and KMA!!!

LLSR1234 7 years, 6 months ago

Where do you go to walk the wetlands? Every place I see has no parking signs. Where is the secret entrance? I love wildlife, and I like to enjoy the weather, as it gets nicer. It makes me pro-highway when I know they will put in accessible entrances to the wetlands! I wanna see the Otter/Muskrat!!!

lucky_guess 7 years, 6 months ago

Note that the reporter does not claim that the animal caught on film at the end of the shoot is an otter.

He refers to the muskrat as "this little guy".

leadstone 7 years, 6 months ago

I've seen a GROUP of otters right off the walking trails in North Lawrence just last July. My girl and I were going to go fishing when we came across a burrow with no less than 3 of the odd critters, after which the fishing expediton turned into a nature hike to see what else lay just beneath the surface of our ecosystem.

unite2revolt 7 years, 6 months ago

Beware he may be a member of the dreaded OLF. The Otter Liberation Front, dedicated to the liberation of otters everywhere!

classclown 7 years, 6 months ago

It's very interesting that suddenly so many people recall seeing otters in the area but were apparently able to contain their excitement of such a discovery until now.

Jeteras 7 years, 6 months ago

What anti SLT reporter wrote this article at the LJW? Build the SLT already, it gives the people in west Lawrence better and faster access to The Legends hehehe

LLSR1234 7 years, 6 months ago

Too big of a secret to share huh? Just cause I'm pro-highway doesn't mean I want to hurt the otter/muskrat/minks! I think we can have the best of both worlds!

a_flock_of_jayhawks 7 years, 6 months ago

Hmmm. I saw an otter on a few occasions last summer southeast of 31st & Haskell playing around. Didn't know they haven't been around here for awhile, otherwise I would have reported the sightings and location. If you go out to the first bridge on Haskell south of 31st, it usually hangs out in the waterway just east of the bridge.

acoupstick 7 years, 6 months ago

LLSR1234, The best of both worlds CAN be had. It just takes patience, creativity, compromise, and teamwork (which is why it rarely happens).

KsTwister 7 years, 6 months ago

"Otters eat frogs. Oh no. Oh my."

So that's what happened to Agnes T. Frog in our man made wetlands. I always wondered.

RedwoodCoast 7 years, 6 months ago

I once saw some otters swimming in the waters of Round Spring along the Current River in Missouri. I've spend a great deal of time outdoors in Kansas, and the most unusual animals I've seen are badgers and armadillos. I think we need some pronghorn. They could hack it in the Flint Hills.

RT: I've canoed the Neosho River in SE KS, but I've never had the opportunity to canoe the Kaw. It's definitely on my list. As for the Wakarusa trash, there might be someone out there dumping their garbage over a cutbank into the river. The trashier of our fellow Kansans tend to do this sort of thing.

RedwoodCoast 7 years, 6 months ago

Wow, northtown, looks like someone stirred YOU up.

a_flock_of_jayhawks 7 years, 6 months ago

R_T says, "Why are the environmentalists over Lawrence way not finding out who's doing the trashy thing?"

Doesn't at least some of it come from the folks that fish at the Clinton Lake spillway?

tolawdjk 7 years, 6 months ago

I think northtown is really a badger with a keyboard.

KS 7 years, 6 months ago

Better trap it and put it in a zoo! The pavers are getting ready to roll.

Erin Parmelee 7 years, 6 months ago

"I will crush your skull, like a clam on my tummy."

$50 bucks if anyone knows it.

Tucker 7 years, 6 months ago

The flint hills already has pronghorn, and lots more in western Kansas

Toto_the_great 7 years, 6 months ago

The skull comment... Cartman?

Pronghorn are in the Flint Hills and western Kansas. They are making a comeback (with a little KDWP help). Heck, I think there is a hunting season for them. Emporia State did a study on landowners thoughts on pronghorn. I don't really remember what the outcome was.

The wetlands are an awesome place. I wish people would get off their duffs and enjoy nature more. What happened to our society... how many kids (under 8) didn't enjoy worms, frogs, turtles, crayfish, birds, cute-cuddly mammals (e.g., otters), jumping in puddles, etc... then as adults (yuppies), it was bad to get a little dirty and enjoy nature.

bonesfixed 7 years, 6 months ago

I saw a otter at lone star lake 5 years ago.

fascinating_person 7 years, 6 months ago

I <3 otters! I've been in love with them since I was a little kid. Check out this darling video of a baby sea otter (not a river otter) -

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MdnlEsu-qng

I think if everyone everywhere watched this video every day, there would be no violence.

I hope we give our new neighbors at the Wetlands a chance to florish!

lance1jhawk 7 years, 6 months ago

I smell varmant puntang, and the only good varmant puntang is dead varmant puntang.

Grounds keeper Carl (Caddy Shack) LOL

LLSR1234 7 years, 6 months ago

Toto: I wanna go! I wanna see all the critters, but I can't find a place to get in! I drive up and down 31st street; up and down Haskell/County road and up and down Louisiana/County road. All I see are no trespassing signs and gates. Tell me, please! Where do I go! This must be the best kept secret in Lawrence! No wonder you guys are fighting over who owns it!

riverdrifter 7 years, 6 months ago

A friend from Minnesota and I were teal hunting last Sept. on the Rock Creek deadwater above Clinton lake. We had a pair of otters swim through and check out every single decoy in the rig by either sniffing or nipping at them. I reached for the camera, one of them sort've chirped, they submarined and that was that: mahatma, as in gone-di. Otters are seen fairly often in the Marmaton river around Ft. Scott. A friend was trot-lining there last summer when the river was up and an otter climbed in his boat and went straight for the bait bucket.

RedwoodCoast 7 years, 6 months ago

Wow, I had no idea that pronghorn were already in the Flint Hills. I've seen plenty of them out west, but the Flint Hills kind of surprises me.

Paul Decelles 7 years, 6 months ago

riverdrifter,

You write: "A friend was trot-lining there last summer when the river was up and an otter climbed in his boat and went straight for the bait bucket."

Now THAT is otter behavior!

MrMister 7 years, 6 months ago

The trash at the Wakarusa boat ramp in Eudora comes mostly from.....You guessed it! Eudora. You just have to look up the banks to see where it is coming from. I canoed the Kaw in November with my son' Boy Scout troop. It was fun but man what a mess the Wakarusa was. And it has been like that for a long time. I remember fishing near there as a young boy and it was trashy then, but it is way worse now.

riverdrifter 7 years, 6 months ago

It came up an oar while he was sitting in the shade at the edge of the river having a beer & sandwich. While having a beer an otter boarded by way of an oar. I feel a limerick coming on...

SpeedRacer 7 years, 6 months ago

I thought otters were social animals and rarely alone.

GretchenJP 7 years, 6 months ago

But I can see how you'd mistake her for an otter.

gr 7 years, 6 months ago

"man what a mess the Wakarusa was"

"Opposing the SLT is a way of preventing further trashing of Lawrence and Douglas County, so you should be grateful to those in our community who have the brains and good sense to be environmentally sensitive."

So, by building a highway that crosses the Wakarusa at least twice, will further trash it. It comes down to which is better: trashing one small part of the country which will be contained, or trashing our waterways clear to the Gulf of Mexico!

"And why do you suppose it is the job of the environmentally active in the community to clean up such messes?"

They seem to pretend to do so by opposing highways. Why not put some action where their mouths are?

Why are you pro-trashing the Wakarusa?

Jackalope 7 years, 6 months ago

I am told that the otter saw his shadow and, according to Douglas County lore, this means twenty more years of stalled infrastructure. Now Lawrence is free to continue to rot in its social and infrastructure compost heap in total bliss.

Scott Drummond 7 years, 6 months ago

"They seem to pretend to do so by opposing highways. Why not put some action where their mouths are?

Why are you pro-trashing the Wakarusa?"

Opposing the SLT means fewer morons attracted to Lawrence, which, in turn, means less trashing of the place. Thus the environmentaly concerned do not "pretend" to do so, they do, in fact, do so by stopping the means by which greater harm will be done.

riverdrifter 7 years, 6 months ago

Classclown: I bet the only streaming you do is here and not @ 630am on a creek. Two of us saw them.

ralphralph 7 years, 6 months ago

Looks like a mink to me. Maybe there are more ... I could make a coat to wear to the ribbon cutting for the completed SLT.

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