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More and more sightings of river otters have been popping up throughout the Front Range, but their scarcity still keeps them listed as a Threatened Species in Colorado.
Recently, river otters have been showing up in ponds and creeks in Boulder County, but for a long time, there were none in Colorado at all.
Going back over a hundred years ago, fur trapping was a way of life in Colorado. The luxurious, thick hides of otters were especially sought after and were worth lots of money at the time. Because of unlimited trapping, river otters soon vanished from the state.
In the 1970s, wildlife officials attempted to reintroduce the species to Colorado, bringing more than one hundred otters here from other states during a 15-year period.
Nowadays, most of the river otters live west of the Rockies, but according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife, some are gradually starting to begin ranging to new areas. They prefer to make their homes in locations with logs in the water and lush vegetation on the banks, and places that have tall trees that shade the water too. In a proper habitat, they can live for 14 years or longer.
In the winter, you can look for signs of river otters by checking near water for six to ten-inch-wide slide marks on snow, ice or mud followed by tracks. Sometimes there will be a line between the tracks from the otter's tail. You can also scan for tracks where there is a hole in the ice, and follow the slide marks.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife encourages anyone who spots a river otter to send them a photo, as they are thrilled to see their comeback. You can read more about Colorado river otters here.