International Otter Survival Fund, 7 Black Park, Broadford, Isle of Skye, IV49 9AQ
In years gone by otters, among other species, were heavily hunted for their luxurious fur. sea otters (Enhydra lutris) have since been protected and are classified as Endangered in the IUCN Red List. The North American river otter (Lontra canadensis) is also classified as Least Concern and is still legally trapped across much of their range. Considerable conservation efforts have been made to restore otter populations across North America and these have been largely successful. However, lessons have not been learnt and legalised trapping still occurs across a large part of the range of the North American river otter. The fur trade is largely dependent on price and demand. With demand appearing to drop, prices have also gone down and therefore the number of otters trapped has declined too. However, this could change at any time. Otter numbers are hard to quantify given their behaviour, so any suggestion that otter trapping is sustainable is questionable. Without recent and sound data of otter populations we cannot be sure of the impact of trapping on these populations. With increasing pressures from other factors, such as habitat loss and pollution, it can be said that the population of North American river otters is still under threat.
Keywords: North American river otter; Lontra canadensis; trapping; Canada; United States of America
Full paper can be found at https://www.otter.org/Public/News_Blog.aspx