KNWSA is pleased to announce we have received funding through the Wildlife Conservation Fund (WCF) to monitor river otter populations in our area. It may come as a surprise to hear that there is a river otter population on PEI, as most people would never have seen an otter here. That is because river otters have, until recently, been extirpated (locally extinct) from PEI.
Over the last few hundred years populations of mammals on PEI have changed considerably. For example, PEI used to have populations of black bear, lynx, and even caribou! During the 19th century, river otter fur was very valuable, and this caused the population to be under high pressure from trapping. By the end of the 19th century, records suggest river otters were either very scarce or already gone from the Island.
Recently, there have been several otter sightings on PEI, including some accidental trappings. Last year Kensington North partnered with PEI Forests, Fish, and Wildlife to monitor otters with the use of remote cameras, also known as trail cameras. This year with the funding received from WCF, we are able to purchase several more remote cameras to expand our monitoring efforts!
The new remote cameras will be set up in various habitats where river otters may be present. These cameras have a passive infra-red sensor which can detect a temperature differential when a heat source, such as an animal, moves in front of the sensor. When the sensor is triggered, the camera takes a picture of the animal in front of it.
The main goals of our monitoring project are to determine how widespread and established otter populations are in our area and to develop best management practices for using remote cameras to monitor river otters. While our project focuses on otters, we also get pictures of many other types of wildlife using the same habitat. Remote cameras are a great, minimally invasive way to observe wildlife we may not normally see. If you have any wildlife sightings, whether they were taken with a remote camera or not, you can share them online at www.peinaturetracker.ca.
This project was funded by the Wildlife Conservation Fund, which provides financial support to groups across PEI working to benefit wildlife and wildlife conservation. The funding for WCF comes from annual conservation fees incorporated into PEI licenses for hunting, angling and trapping, and Conservation Plates purchased for motor vehicles in PEI. If you would like to support more projects like this, consider purchasing a conservation license plate!