The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources has announced the start of a new citizen science project to identify the distribution of river otters across the state and is asking members of the public to report sightings through an online survey.
The survey can be completed online or by using the Survey123 mobile application. To learn more about participating in the survey, visit WVdnr.gov/surveys and scroll down to river otters.
As part of the survey, participants will be asked to report river otter sightings and provide details about the otter’s location, the number of otters observed and what the otter was doing. Submitting a photo of the otter is encouraged.
The survey, which is similar to the box turtle and rattlesnake citizen science surveys the WVDNR have conducted, will provide updated information about the bodies of water river otters currently occupy. Data collected during the survey will help the WVDNR better manage river otter populations across West Virginia.
River otters, which were once extirpated in West Virginia, were reintroduced to the state by the WVDNR in the 1980s. Since then, river otter populations have stabilized and are increasing in certain areas.
To learn more about other citizen science projects and surveys, visit WVdnr.gov/surveys.