I remember reading about this couple years back.
Otters Spotted On River's South Branch Downtown Forest Preserve Plans To Track ThemCHICAGO (STNG) ―
American River otters were spotted recently on the Chicago River's South Branch near Union Station.
Thousands of commuters were walking past Union Station on the day that Chris Anchor happened to see a dream made flesh.
Furry otter flesh, to be exact.
Anchor glanced at the Chicago River and noticed something strange on the bank - a cone-shaped pile, made up of fish scales and a carp head.
The pile of food scraps suggested a specific feeding animal. The North American river otter leaves its garbage in neat cone-shaped piles. "I thought, I can't believe what I'm seeing," said Anchor, chief biologist for the Cook County Forest Preserve District.
He drew closer to investigate, peering beneath a bridge. "Right next to [the food scraps] was an otter that was preening. People were walking by," he said, unaware of the silky, sinewy creature just yards away on that day, about two years ago.
The otter has made a comeback, Anchor said. "Almost all the watersheds in Cook County have otters. They're everywhere. They're kind of like the coyotes . . . there's definitely otters downtown."
Anchor's department has confirmed eight spots with otters on county waterways. Often, the animals live in abandoned beaver lodges.
The Forest Preserve District plans to trap them and implant transmitters with the help of Brookfield Zoo, Anchor said. The devices will help track range, habits and lifespan. The animals will be checked for parasites, and blood and tissue samples will be taken for genetic studies.
Otters disappeared from the area a century or so back as population and development surged.
Anchor isn't sure where they're now coming from. They may have migrated from Wisconsin along the Fox and Des Plaines rivers
, or traveled up north from the Kankakee River. They also might be traced to Louisiana. Otters caught by trappers in Louisiana were re-introduced in Illinois waterways by state officials 10 to 15 years ago, Anchor said. The closest release to Chicago was north of Danville, he said.
Many area waterways have seen a resurgence in fish populations, providing otters a steady food supply. "We have tons and tons of carp available," Anchor said.
For the most part, the animals are eating fish, "but we have documented them taking roadkill . . . they're behaving opportunistically."