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River Otter
River Otter
​​River otter laying in grass. Courtsey of USFWS.


CPW has successfully reintroduced river otters to the Western Slope. Once vanished from Colorado, the species now thrives and has even begun to spread on its own. Otters are notoriously difficult to keep tabs on, but our teams are involved in intensive efforts to learn more about their populations. These playful mammals eat fish and depend on healthy water habitats.

Otter populations in the United States once saw a very sharp decline due to unregulated​ fur trapping. Colorado is among 21 states making a concerted effort to reintroduce and foster River Otter populations. Our monitoring efforts allow us to proactively plan ahead and report results.

Why Are River Otters Important?

River otters are a top river​​ predator. They help control the populations of species they prey on. They also play a critical role in indicating river health​​. ​​If the population is increasing it indicates the ecosystem is healthy. Conversely if the population starts declining it gives biologists a ​​​gauge of what may be happening in that system.

What Are The Associated Challenges?​

​​​Climate Change and Severe Weather​​​​ Residential and Commercial Developement Energy Development and Land Use

What Is CPW Doing?

A pair of river otters in shallow water.Because our river otter populations are doing so well, our efforts are now dedicated to monitoring them. There’s currently no need to intervene, but we are dedicated to maintaining our knowledge base and making proactive plans.

In order to collect data on the otters and their whereabouts, our teams of specialists have to go where the otters are: to the river. We take intensive river trips in the spring and summer to learn all we can about these playful river dwellers.


How Can You Help?

Think you’ve seen an otter? Help inform our monitoring efforts by filling out an otter sighting form​.

Find more ideas of how you can make a difference. Every action, no matter how small, can make a positive impact. See Your ​Help.