Otters are best known for their playful behavior and “cute” face. Most everyone seem to love otters but they can present a problem to people who keep small animals or fish. Anyone with a private lake or pond with fish knows what an otter can do. Within a short period of time, most any adult otter can have a huge impact on your prized fish population by killing your stock. This article will discuss what you can do if you have an unwanted otter eating all the fish in your local waterway
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OTTER BIOLOGY AND HISTORY ^
Otters were once plentiful across most of North America but due to trapping pressure in the late 1800’s and early 20th century, these numbers dwindled. In response to this drop in population, regulations were put in place to reduce the amount being lost to trapping and recreational hunting. For the most part, these efforts have helped and populations have thrived. In fact otters have rebounded so well for many people their presence is menacing.
KOI PONDS AND PRIVATE LAKES WILL ATTRACT HUNGRY OTTERS ^
At this time the river otter is now found throughout most of the southeast, northeast and northwest states of America. Undaunted by cold temps, the river otter seems to thrive all year long as long as they have access to a good supply of fish.
For this reason, otters can become a costly nuisance for many people. Anyone with a private lake, koi pond or other aquatic habitat is all too familiar with the kind of impact a foraging otter can make. Although otters will sometimes dine on shellfish or reptiles, they love fish. And just about any type of fish. Just as long as it’s plentiful and easy to catch, otters will take advantage.
OTTERS LOVE CHICKENS AND OTHER BIRDS ^
If you keep chickens, quail or pheasant, otters will try to take advantage of young vulnerable birds. They’re smart and wily often times figuring out how to scale fences or dig under them to get inside.
Otters will initially target eggs and young birds. But captive adult birds are fair game too and otters will not ignore a kept population.
If you have active bird feeders, otters will often times stake out the area around the feeder early in the morning. Generally active at night, otters will try to harvest caged birds when its dark.
HOW TO REPEL OTTERS FROM THE YARD ^
If you have a pond or chicken coop and would like to keep otters away, install SOUND REPELLERS around the perimeter of the area for a quick and easy solution. These units emit ultra sound by default and otters do not like this sound. It won’t hurt them but it does make them feel uncomfortable so they will move away from the area where the sound is heard.
These units can be configured to run continuously using the included power supply or by 4 “C” cell batteries when set to “motion detector”. This setting will keep the unit in standby mode watching the area for movement. As soon as an otter enters the protected area, the device will go off for 20 seconds chasing the intruder away.
Units have a range of settings including day operation only, night operation only or 24 hours a day. The motion detector has a range of 40-50 feet when kept 1-2 feet up off the ground and this setting is adjustable too.
To get the biggest impact, use the units with the audible sound turned up as high as you can use it on your property. 20-40 is usually high enough but if possible, keep it at 60-80. This way when they go off, the ultrasound will be active along with the white flashing light bar and the audible sound. In most cases, one close call with this device will cause any otter to be skittish to the area for a long time.
These units include a wireless key so you can turn them off/on as needed. This wireless remote also has an “alarm” button so you can use this to “scare” approaching animals long before they get too close.
Sound repellers are very much directional so they will only work in the direction they’re pointed. So to protect a small pond, set the unit 10-20 feet away pointing to the most likely approach path the otter would use. Units can cover up to 5,000 of open area but if the landscape is cluttered with vegetation, this will obscure its range.
For easy installation, MOUNTING BLOCKS are handy. They can accept 1 or 2 repellers (picture to the right) and have a 1/2″ hole on their bottom so they will easily fit over a 1/2″ piece of rebar or any other wood or plastic stake. Ultra Sound Repellers will work fine by themselves as long as you have a good place to set them up. But we highly recommend getting the Units with Mounting Blocks in the kits we offer. Mounting Blocks allow you to place units anywhere and they will save time too.
We also feature several accessories for our sound repeller including POWER CORD EXTENDERS (33 FEET AND 66 FEET), CIGARETTE LIGHTER POWER ADAPTER, ALLIGATOR CLIP POWER CORD and AC POWER SUPPLY REPLACEMENTS.
HOW TO TRAP RIVER OTTER ^
Another more “permanent” solution is to trap out invasive otter from your property. This can done using a range of traps depending on your problem.
The easiest traps to use are live trap cages since otter are easy to catch when using the right bait. Leg hold traps will also work as will kill traps.
BEST LIVE TRAPS FOR OTTER ^
For average inland river otter in the 30 lb or less range, our 36″ long LT111236RD will do the job. This is a commercial grade trap strong enough to contain an otter. It features a rear sliding door so its very easy to set and maintain.