Otters are making a big comeback in Illinois!

Today, thanks to diligent, long-term work to reduce pollution, protect wooded areas, and restore land along water bodies, the playful and very photogenic river otter is making a big comeback in Illinois!

Watch this mother river otter as she pulls out onto bank to call for pups, Middle Fork of the Vermilion River (Wabash basin), Illinois.

Once common, the river otter all but disappeared due to pollution, habitat destruction, and uncontrolled hunting. Then as conditions started to improve across the state, the Illinois DNR imported 350 otters from Louisiana, and populations took off. River otters can now be found throughout Illinois.

In fact, the river otter population is doing so well that the DNR has agreed to issue limited trapping licenses. A recent article in the LA Times describes how some aren’t so thrilled with the competition for fish and are making an argument for keeping the population in check.

“Sometimes our efforts have unanticipated consequences,” said Elliot Brinkman, Habitat Specialist, “but the recovery of the river otter should be viewed as an ecological success. The investments we make in the land and water now will continue to pay dividends for years to come.”

Clean water. Healthy rivers. (Too) many otters. Make an investment in more river recovery stories with a donation to Prairie Rivers Network today!


Photo credit: Dmitry Azovtsev,