With greedy Vancouver otters making provincial headlines as he celebrates on expensive fish and shies away from capturing, Wanderhof has his own problems with otters.
Nechako White Sturgeon, species listed under the Species under Threat of the Federal Government (SARA), hunt for otters on the Nechako divide.
Unlike Vancouver, where there is only one unpleasant otter, the SURA-listed sturgeon faces a number of predators, says Wayne Salewski, chairman of the Nechako White Sturgeon initiative community working group.
"I think we have otter families who, like all good otters, love fish."
The sturgeon travels along the length and width of the Nechaco watershed, swimming so far north as Lake Tacla and to the west like Lake Stewart, but always returns to the sweep of water in the center of Vanderhof to breed.
The initiative to restore white sturgeon in Nechako in the city runs an incubator, catches the female and female sturgeon, carefully separates the eggs and returns the adult fish to the river, and then manually feeds the eggs to grow the young sturgeon. The young sturgeon was later released into the river at nine different sites, including with radio transmitters in them, to allow the Initiative to track the fish and their survival.
Salewski says that over the past few years they have discovered that juvenile fish are hunting for otters in the river system.
“Over the years, we began to realize that these fish with radio transmitters apparently hunt quite otters. We will find this by finding a radio transmitter on the shore, ”Salewski explains.
“Most interestingly, we find a lot of these transmitters in otter latrines. Otters are very social animals, very clean, and they like the same bathrooms. ”
Salewski says that the otter does not swallow the transmitters, but is around them and spits them out. Volunteers with the White Sturgeon Reconstruction Initiative in Necaco can use their radio stations to search for discarded transmitters that can be reused, says Salewski. "This is one good thing in the whole situation."
The group has now begun to draw up a program to identify the effects of otters on the survival and general recovery of white sturgeon at risk.
Salewski says that from the very beginning it was a learning curve.
“Every year we are forced to make changes in our practices in order to increase survival. For the first few years, we put the fish in water from two to three inches in length. … We could quickly see things like seagulls swinging at our places of release and having flourishing. So it made us say, "Well, we will raise them more, and that should take care of that."
But the big fish, ranging in size from 12 to 14 inches, was a great food for osprey and eagles, Salewski says.
"No self-respecting eagle will go after a two-inch fish, but it will easily go after a fish of 12-14 inches in size."
Now, the hatchery volunteers decided to release the fish after two years.
“This is our reaction. … if the otters are haunted by these [12-inch fish]perhaps if they were bigger and faster, perhaps the otter would not dispute the idea of their adoption. This is where we are, superior to our fish and observing whether it gives us better survival. ”
Salewski says that current low water levels do not help, as visibility is good for predators.
“This is a circle of life. We are not naive, but there are many questions that are left behind. Do we really make otters healthy, because they now have a constant supply of food? And a healthy mother will produce more healthy children, and our problem will become more, because there are more of them? These are obvious questions and things that need to be answered, ”Salewski says.
Learn more about the Nechaco White Sturgeon Recovery Initiative.
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