The Wild Center has released two female North American River Otters to the Shingle Shanty Preserve and Research Station (a 15,000-acre biological field research station in the Western Adirondacks) after 5 months of rehabilitation.
The Otter Rehabilitation was as first for The Wild Center and began last May after receiving two phone calls from residents of separate areas within the North Country that had each spotted a five-week-old abandoned otter pup in the wild. Leah Valerio, Wild Center Curator and the rest of the Animal Care staff then worked with local veterinarian Dr. Nina Schoch to retrieve the otter pups and transport them to the Center’s Tupper Lake facility.
After spending the required month within their Wildlife Quarantine space, the otters went to the Wild Center to learn how to swim, dive, groom themselves, and hunt for fish. These are all skills they were deprived of learning in the wild, being separated from their mother. Wild Center staff tracked their progress through live video programs which can be accessed at the following link: wildcenter.org/pupdates.
The otters were eventually successfully released back into the wild. The Shingle Shanty Preserve will make an excellent home for them, with nine lakes and ponds over acres of hardwood forest, as well as 2,000 acres of wetlands making the location invaluable to regional biodiversity.
Steve Langdon, Director of Shingle Shanty and an adjunct professor at Clarkson University said, “We picked this spot because of its remoteness. It’s about 15 or 20 miles from the nearest road. The wetland area is also a perfect otter habitat. I’ve been observing otters in this area for the past decade.”
The Wild Center staff are experts in the care of North American River Otters. In 2017, ZooNation, an organization dedicated to wildlife conservation, named The Wild Center as one of the 10 Best Otter Exhibits in the world. The Center is currently home to five otters: Louie, Scarlett, Squirt, Tawi:ne and Rohsno:re.
“Visitors say that the otters are one of the reasons they come back to visit us over and over again,” Valerio said. “They know their names, they know their stories, they know their ages… They really fall in love with the otters and that’s great because it inspires a lot of people to care about nature and wildlife.”