Canada and the USA have two species of otter - the North American Otter (Lontra canadensis) and the Sea Otter (Enhydra lutris). The North American Otter occurs in freshwater habitats including rivers, lakes and swamps. It also lives on rocky coastlines in Alaska, California and British Columbia. In spring 2005 the first evidence for 50 years found using DNA that river otters are in New Mexico. In California Sea Otter numbers continue to rise; in spring 2003 2,505 animals were counted an increase in 17% on the 2002 figure. This is the highest count since 1983. (Marine pollution bulletin). This year (2004) the number has increased to 2,825. Recently April 2004 Sea otters have been dying in California, most of a startling number of sea otters found sick or dead on the Central California coast last month were infected with a deadly brain parasite, state scientists said Thursday. In April, 62 southern sea otters were found stranded alive or dead near Morro Bay and Pismo Beach. That's about three times the 10-year average and more than the previous record of 48 stranded or dead otters reported a year earlier.
After examining the animals, researchers determined most were infected with a parasite called Sarcocystis neurona and suffered brain inflammation, according to the state Department of Fish and Game.
The parasite originates in the faeces of opossum — a small marsupial mammal not native to California — and is known to cause brain damage. Researchers are unclear how the otters came into contact with the faeces.
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North American Otter (Lontra canadensis) Conservation status - Low risk
Sea Otter (Enhydra lutris) Conservation status - Endangered
IOSF funded projects
* 1995- Campaigned with the American Legal Animal Defence Fund to stop killing North American Otters in Mississippi and Illinois for fur.
* 1996 - Campaigned in Europe to stop the import of furs from America and Canada.
* 1999 - Campaigned again to help the American Legal Animal Defence Fund concerning the trapping of North American Otter in Missouri, USA.
American River Otter Alliance
Friends of the Sea Otter
The otter project