river otter in the snow

To see an otter swimming in the wild is, for most of us, to experience a special moment of magic, of connection to nature.  There is something so fun and child-like about otters and their seemingly endless play.  One gets to watch an intricate and yet free-flowing dance in this beautiful and wild creature.  There are otters that live among us in Bonner County, but you have to be on the lookout to spot them.

The first time I saw otters here in Bonner County,  I was living in a tiny house on the waters edge off of Bottle Bay Road.  I looked out the window just at sunrise and saw four otters swimming and twisting, diving and spinning in a joyous throng.  In an instant, they had moved on, but I can still picture that moment years later and feel the excitement that it brought.  On another occasion, I was out for a winter walk along the Pack River with my wife and we saw some strange tracks out on the ice.  We saw some clear tracks and then long parallel lines for 6-8 feet, repeated several times across the ice.  My wife figured it out first that it was slide marks caused by the otters as they slid on their bellies. What fun seeing those tracks; imagining the otters as they got up speed and then, like kids on a slip and slide, launched themselves on to the ice. My final encounter came while I was fly-fishing on a raft and three cute little heads popped up not five feet away, gave me a quick look and then dove beneath the surface and disappeared.  In addition to being a remarkable sight, otters are also a key indicator of an ecosystem’s health so the more we see of these beautiful creatures in our waterways the better.