Lindsay Whittaker was walking her dog along the path overlooking the Bow River near Calgary’s Edworthy Park this week when the movements of a couple of creatures caught her eye.
“They would kind of just jump back in the water and swim around a bit and then pop back up on the ice,” Whittaker said. “I thought they were beavers.”
But after looking at video shot by Whittaker and another Calgarian, wildlife experts say the creatures are river otters.
“This video clearly shows a pair of river otters,” wildlife expert Chris Fisher said. “These are far too large and far too aquatic for mink that are also found here.”
River otter sightings have been rare in recent years in the Calgary area.
“There haven’t been a lot of river otters in the southern half of the province, but they are coming back. It sure is exciting.” Fisher said. “The presence of river otters in Calgary is a really good indication that the health of the Bow River and the fish population in this river and the surrounding environment is in really good shape.”
The otters feed on a variety of fish in the Bow, and probably won’t pose any threat to the river’s renowned trout population.
The arrival of spring may see them moving to more treed areas west of Calgary, the experts say.
In the meantime, they’ll make for some interesting viewing within the city.
“River otters are endlessly entertaining,” Fisher said. “They slide and they slither — they’re sleek and they’re strong. They often play with one another, and to add that character to here in the river valley is just wonderful.”
Whittaker said she will definitely be keeping an eye out for them the next time she walks her dog along the Bow.
“They were playing on the ice, just rolling around,” she said. “They’re adorable!”