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Media Contacts:   
Lambrini Lukidis, Forest Preserves of Cook County       Sondra Katzen, Chicago Zoological Society
708-771-1019 (office), 224-234-2165 (cell)                     708-688-8351 (office), 708-903-2071 (cell)
Lambrini.Lukidis@cookcountyil.gov                                 sondra.katzen@czs.org
 
For Immediate Release                                                    

November 12, 2015
 
Forest Preserves of Cook County, Chicago Zoological Society Study Habits of Urban River Otter

Images can be downloaded below:

RiverOtter_252.jpg
RiverOtter_335.jpg
RiverOtter_6757.jpg

Photo Captions:
252: A North American river otter is released back into the southwest region of the Forest Preserves of Cook County, and will be tracked by wildlife biologists using a surgically implanted transmitter and a directional antennae in order to gain a better understanding of the animal’s habits, habitats, and travel routes. This knowledge will help determine what the otter’s challenges are in an urban setting and what can be done to promote their population within Cook County. Photo courtesy of Jeff Nelson.
 
335: A North American river otter is released back into the southwest region of the Forest Preserves of Cook County, and will be tracked by wildlife biologists using a surgically implanted transmitter and a directional antennae in order to gain a better understanding of the animal’s habits, habitats, and travel routes. By understanding river otters’ habits, researchers will be able to better identify where to restore various open land to benefit the health of otters and the biodiversity of all wildlife and humans. Photo courtesy of Chicago Zoological Society.
 
6757: Chicago Zoological Society veterinary staff surgically implant a transmitter in a North American river otter so that wildlife biologists from the Forest Preserves of Cook County can better study the animal and its habits, habitats, and travel routes. This knowledge will help determine what the otter’s challenges are in an urban setting and what can be done to promote their population within Cook County. This project is just one of many ways that the Society, which operates Brookfield Zoo, collaborates with the Forest Preserves of Cook County to act locally for the conservation of wildlife and nature. Photo courtesy of Chicago Zoological Society.

 

Forest Preserves of Cook County, Chicago Zoological Society Study Habits of Urban River Otter

A century after near-extinction from the State of Illinois and decades after reintroduction, an urban river otter has found its way into the southern region of the Forest Preserves of Cook County, calling an isolated pond within the preserves home.
 
The Forest Preserves of Cook County and the Chicago Zoological Society (CZS), which operates Brookfield Zoo, have since collaborated to study the otter’s behavior. CZS veterinarians surgically implanted a transmitter in the otter, allowing wildlife biologists to track how the animal moves and learn how far the otter travels from its home base, while hopefully leading researchers to other otters in the area.
 
“We’re very excited to be able to work with the wildlife biologists from the Forest Preserves of Cook County on this project,” said Michael Adkesson, DVM, Dipl. ACZM, vice president of clinical medicine for the Chicago Zoological Society. “This project is just one of many ways that the Society collaborates with the County to act locally for the conservation of wildlife and nature.”
 
“We currently have otters in all of the watersheds in Cook County, but at very low numbers. We’re trying to understand what their challenges are, and to see if there is anything we can do to promote their population within Cook County,” explained Chris Anchor, senior wildlife biologist for the Forest Preserves of Cook County.
 
According to Anchor, river otters are an alpha predator in the local wetland system, and rely on the health and well-being of the entire system beneath them. By understanding river otters’ habits, researchers will be able to better identify where to restore various open land to benefit the health of otters and the biodiversity of all wildlife and humans.
 
“We are several years into an otter study. Urban otters, as with most urban wildlife, behave completely different than animals in a rural environment. There are many questions we do not understand about the ecology and natural history of otters that we’re hoping to answer through the use of telemetry,” said Anchor.
 
Within the implanted transmitter is a coiled antennae that emits signals. Using a directional antennae to pick up the signals, a process called triangulation, researchers are able to locate the otter to better study the animal and its habits, habitats and travel routes.
 
“The habitats of Cook County are diverse and in close relation to one another. By tracking the otter’s movement, we are learning how it’s using right of ways through neighborhoods and commercial property – this is all new information we’re receiving,” said Anchor.
 
For more information on the Forest Preserves of Cook County, visit www.fpdcc.com. To learn more about the Chicago Zoological Society, visit www.CZS.org/About
 
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For Media Use:
 
For photos and b-roll footage of the North American river otter, view the Dropbox folder here: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/6yeujyfbnadth9w/AAAUHqaXh8PXKzEE-BfpXuu9a?dl=0

MEDIA CONTACT:

Sondra Katzen
Media Relations Manager
Office: 708-688-8351
Cell Phone: 708-903-2071
E-mail: Sondra.Katzen@CZS.org

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