Outside Scoop: Otter Day is May 26
We’ve been exploring all the amazing things that happen in the Vail Valley come spring. From produce to animal, there isn’t a week that goes by where there isn’t something outside to celebrate. This week is no different as Wednesday, May 26, is official World Otter Day! And, there is no shortage of otters here in the Valley. But, that’s not how it always was to be.
Otters were nearly hunted to extinction for their pelts (furs) during the 1800s and early 1900s and placed on the Colorado state endangered species list in 1975. It is noted, there wasn’t any living or breeding populations of otters at the time. From 1978 to 1984, 41 river otters from Minnesota, Oregon, Washington and Wisconsin were released to the Colorado River in Rocky Mountain National Park. Otters were also introduced to other river areas including the Gunnison, Piedra, and Dolores rivers.
Otters are part of the weasel family and do not hibernate during the winter; therefore, it’s possible to see them in the water or along the banks year-round. They eat fish, turtles, amphibians and might even attack and eat small mammals and birds. Otters can live up to nine years in the wild and grow to a body length 20 to 32 inches and a tail of 11 to 20 inches, weighing from 10 to 30 pounds, much bigger than most housecats.
Did you know that the North American river otter is the only otter that lives inland on the continent north of Mexico?