• 79°

Orphaned otters released into the wild

Two North American river otter pups orphaned earlier this year at the North Carolina coast have been successfully rehabilitated and released as part of a cooperative effort between the NC Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC), the NC Aquarium on Roanoke Island and North Carolina Zoo.

Found orphaned near Engelhard on April 23, the female pups were six weeks old when their mother was killed by a car. After they were found by a passerby, the pups were rescued by the NCWRC and taken to North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island where staff cared for them. The aquarium staff assessed their condition and decided they were good candidates for release back into the wild because they had not been exposed to excessive human contact.

The sister pups were transported to North Carolina Zoo’s Valerie H. Schindler Wildlife Rehabilitation Center for rehabilitation where they spent just under 16 weeks in the zoo’s care.

The zoo’s wildlife rehab center is the only center of its kind in the state that offers a safe, outdoor, aquatic enclosure. The otters received training on how to catch fish (something their mother would have taught them) as an example of how they were prepared for a return to the wild.

The zoo coordinated the otters’ release with the aquarium and the NCWRC. The release took place in late August in Hertford County.

Halley Buckanoff, veterinary technician for the Zoo’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, said staff tended to their specialized needs including diet, housing, and general care. She said one of the biggest challenges is ensuring the animals maintained all of their wild behaviors and an appropriate fear of humans, so they can have all the skills necessary for a successful life in the wild.

“It was so great to be able to be there for a successful release,” said Kristin Clark, assistant husbandry curator for the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island, who conducted the initial evaluation.

Clark said that during the transportation back to the coast, they made sure to reduce noise, including not talking or conducting any interactions that could familiarize the otters with human activity.

“This is exactly the kind of outcome we’d like to see in these situations, healthy otters that are not conditioned to human interaction released back to their natural environment,” she said.

North American river otters had almost disappeared by the early 20th century because of unregulated trapping, water pollution and wetlands destruction. In the 1990s, the NCWRC began a restoration effort in the mountains with 267 river otters relocated from coastal North Carolina. Thanks to this program, the otter population is now considered fully restored and abundant throughout North Carolina.

Anyone who comes across injured or orphaned wildlife is asked to call the NC Wildlife Helpline 866-318-2401.

News

North Carolina nurse wins $216,614 Cash 5 jackpot first time playing

News

Dare County Planning Board reviews several items; hearing set for commissioners meeting

News

Dare EMS facilities slated for improvements or new construction

Hyde

Hyde County Schools’ 21st Century Community Learning Center highlighted as an exemplary program

News

North Carolina’s average gas prices up after slight drop in prior week

Crime

Georgia man accused of conspiring to defraud North Carolina Medicaid

News

Golden tilefish recreational harvest closes Monday

Lifestyles

Duck Jazz Festival postponed until next year

Crime

North Carolina man arrested for sex charges, probation violation

Lifestyles

Labor Day traditions continue for 75 years in Kill Devil Hills

News

Abandoned and derelict vessel removal project begins

Crime

North Carolina man sentenced to more than nine years in prison, three years supervised release for gun charge

News

FBI called in after human remains discovered in North Carolina

Crime

North Carolina mother and son charged with insurance fraud

News

Frisco Beach Access improvements underway

News

Kitty Hawk Town Council honors Willie Midgett honored for 15 years of service

Crime

North Carolina man sentenced to more than nine years in prison for firearm charge

Crime

North Carolina man charged in 2012 beating death of UNC-Chapel Hill student

News

Dare commissioners take financial action on beach nourishment, courthouse projects

News

The great horned owl: Looking out over Alligator River NWR

Lifestyles

Cape Hatteras Booster Club membership drive now open

Crime

North Carolina man arrested for splashing deputy with paint thinner

News

Tropical Storm Odette slogs offshore of mid-Atlantic coast

Business

Bayliss Boatworks delivers newest build, the 72’ Old Reliable