Project Report: Otter Habitat Use and Feeding Ecology Study

Issue/Problem Statement

Recent high harvests of otter have raised questions about sustainability of the provincial population of this furbearer. Elevated levels of mercury in fish and fish-eating carnivores in western Nova Scotia and expanding fin-fish aquaculture activity in coastal habitats present additional concerns. Better understanding of the use of inland and costal habitats and the feeding ecology of otters is required to adequately manage this species.


To assess movements and use of coastal and inland habitats by otter including also examinations of associated feeding ecology, conflicts with human activity (including aquaculture), and effects and inter-relationships with exposure to mercury contamination in forage species.


Determine distribution of inland and coastal habitat use by otters through such techniques as radio-telemetry, mark-recapture, and examination of furharvester capture locations. Determine food habits through examination of food remains in stomachs from carcass collections and feces collected at otter landing sites. Determine mercury levels in tissue samples collected from otters and forage species. Examine distribution of aquaculture activity and monitor conflicts.


Regional Services, Canadian Wildlife Service, Acadia University, Acadia Center for Wildlife & Conservation Biology, and trappers.

Project Dates and Duration

Proposed study. Duration 2-3 years. Starting date unknown - awaiting funding.

Progress to Date

Proposal prepared.


M.Sc. Thesis/final report would be prepared by Acadia University graduate student. Progress reports and final summary report to be published in Trappers Newsletter and/or Nature's Resources and DNR website. Scientific papers will be prepared and published as appropriate.

Management Recommendations

Implement this project as soon as funding becomes available, to provide information important to the improved management of this species.

Final Report: At completion of project.

Completion Dates: Unknown