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Otters. Cute but destructive. How do they taste?

 
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They are cute & fun to watch in zoos or movies. Not so much when they are destroying a stocked fish pond.

I'm still deciphering the local laws regarding them. Hoping to persuade them to leave for more suitable locations before trapping or hunting seasons begin. There are plenty of better places for them to be. I might be making some progress with that just by being a human in their presence. Maybe. But ... when the time comes I'm going to do what I have to do if they haven't left on their own. Preferably relocate them to a better location if possible. My own rule is not to kill anything that isn't a serious threat unless I plan on eating it & using as many parts of it as I can. So, does anyone have any good legal tips on how to make them leave or in the absence of that input have any good otter recipes to share? I found a few online but they are all pretty basic stuff. Clean it, marinate it, fry or stew it. Bleh. I'm looking for kick ass recipes. Just in case.

Otter compost & a warm otter hat might happen too.
 
pollinator
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I am not sure how big the pond is...but electric netting on the periphery would stop otter, mink and raccoon.

Relocation is a nice idea, but often impractical, and a short lived solution. Plus, it commonly leads to disease transferance and the placing of the captured animal(s) in another's territory leading to fighting and even death of either those relocated or the resident animal(s).

I truly think the solution is to prevent access. It may cost more in the short run, but will provide a permanent solution, long term.
 
Mike Barkley
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Thanks Lorinne. Very good advice from an expert. Perfect!

I hadn't yet considered the possibility of spreading otter diseases. Good point. I have contacts that can probably test for those. Will check.

The pond is 3.5 acres according to a quick measurement with my mapping program. Electrofence does sound like the best permanent solution but it might take some time to make that happen. Sounds expensive.
 
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Probably going to be a tough sell to get a good fence around 3.5 acres of pond.

Contact your state Department of Natural Resources!  They should be able to quickly tell you what the rules are for destructive fauna on private property.  In Colorado, there are options for landowners to remove destructive critters out-of-season.

Depending on other details, might consider getting a couple of outdoor dogs to wander a fenced area (which may just attract coyotes...) and upset the otters.

"Northern Cookbook" by Eleanor A Ellis, ISBN 0-88830-178-2, has recipes for seals, but not for otters.  No luck there.
 
Rocket Scientist
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Mike ;
I think that they probably taste rather fishy and no doubt rather stringy and tough.
And besides they are so dang cute...

Fish ponds can be a problem. If the otters were not eating your  fish then the birds will.
A Blue Heron can swallow a lot of fish really quickly!
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Mike Barkley
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Maybe I'm going about this the wrong way. hmmmm   What eats otters & blue herons? Perhaps I need a chupacabra?
 
Mother Tree
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If my memory serves me right, somewhere in the film Ring of Bright Water it mentions that the church permits otter meat to be eaten on Fridays as they count as fish. Which suggests that they are good to eat.  In my mind they are far too precious for such treatment, but I found a youtube video of the entire film that I first saw as a young child, which might have influenced me somewhat. Probably in more ways than I care to admit...



Aha - 8:50 in, "The flesh of the otter is extremely fishy and disagreeable to taste. However, the romish church permits its consumption on Fridays."
 
pollinator
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3.5 acres of fence is not impossible, but it would really suck to do it, and have it not work.

Maybe a small test fence of your preferred style with bait inside would help determine how good the fencing must bet?


I wouldn't consider stocking a pond without fencing, as I would feel awful killing otters for encroaching, and I suspect it would be an endless battle, as presumably more would move in ftom up/down the creek as I killed off the ones that are here...

A dog inside that fence would surely help, but ebough dog to be safe from yotes could get expensive.

Are these otters an uncommon occurence, or would you expect to be fighting this battle again soon? Killing is lowish effort if it is once, but fencing might pull ahead over the course of many years of conflict...

 
pioneer
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We have much the same issue here with Bald Eagles. I've seen dozens sitting in trees overlooking a series of ponds. They will clean a pond out of large fish.
I was thinking you could use wire instead of netting. Put the low strand at about 6 inches and the upper at about 24 inches. This will force you to weedeat under the fence on a regular basis but might run them away if you cut off their food source.
Hope it works out that you run them off and don't have to kill them. If you have to kill them, good on ya for wanting to eat them.
Check Native American cooking. I'm sure they ate otter.
Otter and dumplings?
Fried otter with asparagus?
Otter chow mein?
Otter stew?
Otter alfredo?
Just let your mind go crazy!
 
Mike Barkley
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Otters don't seem to be all that common here. Yet. The pond has been stocked for many years without any issues. One problem with fencing or electric wire is we think they might have an underground tunnel over to a tiny secluded water hole. A dog trained to walk the perimeter might be the best answer. Have been considering a Border Collie to guard an upcoming flock of chickens anyway. There's a nice creek nearby they could easily move to. I suspect that's where they came from. Maybe they'll meet a water moccasin. Problem solved nature's way. The whole purpose of this land is native flora & fauna preservation & restoration. I intend to tread lightly.

This place was once central Chocktaw territory. They might be the best source of recipes should it come down to that.

Thanks for all the excellent advice!

 
Matt Hauer
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Tunnels would definitely be problematic.  A quick check on Wikipedia, they'll dig burrows, it's less clear about tunnels.  The article also verifies that their main threats are crocs, gators, cats (cougars, bobcats), and all adequately large canines.  They're supposedly happy to clean out the local shellfish and bugs, which may make them useful for pest control in the future?

It just came to mind, the local botanical garden puts a food- and animal-safe black dye in their ponds, and the fish don't seem to mind it too much.  Hard to spot fish more than 2" deep in that stuff.  It might help protect fish from sight-hunting birds, but isn't likely to do much for the otters, and will impact aquatic photosynthesis...

Still working on my coffee this morning.
 
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Otters will dig dens into banks- including dams- which can cause leaks and failures.  

I've seen hatcheries use strobe lights to deter otters from raceways, but that probably isn't a viable option on a 3.5 acre pond.  I haven't eaten them, but everything's alright in chili.  
 
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My favorite recipe for any game meat is....
Dice the meat, about 1" cube
Warm olive oil a skillet, enough to coat the bottom of the pan about 1/8" or so
Add plenty of diced garlic and your favorite seasonings (salt, Italian, cajun, etc) and stir well
Stir in the meat and allow to cook, stirring occasionally
Serve over pasta, add grated parmesan cheese to taste

My experience has show that the more garlic the better, but I love garlic.


 
pollinator
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I’d look into the Bullock Brothers’ approach to otter management, and mentioned in Gaia’s Garden. I would not kill such a highly beneficial and unappetizing an animal.
 
Mike Barkley
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Please don't misunderstand. I do not want to harm or eat the otter(s). There are plenty of predators that will keep them in check if they become too numerous for Mother Nature. There is also more fish & traditional game animals here on any given day than we could eat in 10 lifetimes. It might not even be otters. It could just as easily be osprey, alligator, bobcat, coyote, water moccasins, turtles, nutria, or beaver. All indications are it is otters though. The basic problem is this particular pond is part of an educational & recreational program. Mostly for disadvantaged kids & disabled persons. This is all about helping them, not performing stupid human tricks.

Haven't had a chance to watch Burra's movie yet. Found a bit of info about the Bullock brothers but nothing otter specific yet. Will dig deeper into both as time permits. Thanks!



 
Ben Zumeta
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Mike, I figured from your other posts that you were joking and not looking to hurt anything unnecessarily, just figured I’d put in my 2c on the topic in general. Predators get a bad rap despite the fact that what they are doing is similar to what people travel thousands of miles to see at Yellowstone.

Basically the Bullock Brothers leaned into the problem as the solution, and have a healthier wetland with spectacular otter watching for doing so. They made a portion of the property ideal habitat for the otters, and this made other places easier to keep them out of. Ducklings and stocked fish need help/protection, but are often healthier due to a healthier ecosystem around them due to the otters. I have never enjoyed camping somewhere regularly as much as I did at the mouth of the Ozette River as a Olympic NP backcountry ranger, where a family of otters got used to me at the ranger site and went about their hunting and playing right in front of me at almost every high tide. The mom or yearling would teach the babies to roll salt off, or just wrestle-roll, and it was magical. I’d trade quite a bit of fish if I could have that parade of cuteness in my pond now. If it can be made sustainable regarding their food sources, seeing the otters would be about as magical a wildlife show for the kids as I could imagine!
 
Mike Barkley
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Yes, that would be magical. If only it were that simple. There are serious complications that you might have encountered as a park ranger. Some bad apples around these parts.
 
Ben Zumeta
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Yeah otters will mess a much larger dog up in or around the water. I’ve seen hundreds and swam in their habitat for much of my life and never had a bad interaction myself, but never kept a stocked pond I was worried about protecting. I would consider cages in the water large enough to hold a clustered school with otter excluding holes. I’d have enough to give shelter close by throughout the pond.
 
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