The reappearance of otters in our hills is a hopeful sign that the capacity of our rivers and landscapes to support wildlife is improving.

March 9, 2020 | | Notes from the Wild

River otters – intelligent, engaging, and famously playful – appear to be returning to our hills. They have been known in the Nottawasaga watershed for some time and have recently been observed at several locations in the Grand River watershed including Luther Marsh.

And now, at least one otter has appeared in the Credit River watershed. In February I identified otter tracks on a friend’s property north of Glen Williams.

Otter tracks. Photo by Karen Hobbs.

The tracks skirted the edge of an ice-covered quarry pond before rising and crossing my friend’s front yard. In classic otter fashion, the footfalls were separated by shallow troughs, where the otter slid along the snow.

According to Jon Clayton of Credit Valley Conservation, this is only the fifth time an otter has been recorded in the Credit River Watershed. Jon also indicated that this may be the only record supported by photographic evidence (of the tracks).

Otters range widely. Is this a one-off? This is otter breeding season, so perhaps the tracks were left by a lonely male in search of love. Or perhaps the track maker is a part of a small resident Credit watershed population that until now has slid under the radar.

Regardless, finding these tracks is another hopeful sign that otters may be recolonizing their former Headwaters territories. Decades ago, like many other animals, they were extirpated – victims of habitat loss and unregulated hunting and trapping. (My article on past wildlife in Headwaters in the new spring issue of In The Hills explores this issue in more detail.)

Photo by Robert McCaw.

The reappearance of otters in our hills is a hopeful sign that the capacity of our rivers and landscapes to support wildlife is improving. Here’s hoping that more of these energetic, animated creatures will soon swim and slide through Headwaters wetlands.

About the Author More by Don Scallen

Don Scallen enjoys sharing his love of nature through his writing and presentations. Check out his blog "Notes from the Wild".

Related Stories

Animal Tracks

Feb 6, 2020 | Don Scallen | Notes from the Wild

Tracks inscribed on snow by unseen animals offer tantalizing multilayered puzzles.

It was a long plod for a pair of porcupines. Photo by Robert McCaw.

Tracking 101

Nov 22, 2016 | Don Scallen | Environment

It’s not just the tracks, but the story they tell.

Visiting a sugar bush, such as this one at Island Lake Conservation Area, is one of winter’s last pleasures. Photo by James MacDonald.

Let It Snow: Try These 10 Kids’ Winter Activities

Nov 22, 2017 | Janice Quirt | Leisure

Embrace the season with snow tubing, tuning into nature or warming up indoors with a zany DIY parlour game.


Mink: Master Predators

Mar 5, 2018 | Don Scallen | Notes from the Wild

Winter is the best time to find evidence of mink. With snow cover, mink tracks can readily be found along streams or the verges of ponds and lakes.

Where the Moose and the Elk Used to Roam

Mar 24, 2020 | Don Scallen | Environment

Wildlife populations in Dufferin and Caledon have come and gone over the past few centuries, most dramatically since European settlement. Some species have vanished from the landscape. Others have arrived. Now things are changing again.



  1. Hi Neil,

    Great sighting! Otters are wide-ranging animals and are testing the waters, so to speak, here in southern Ontario. I think we can expect to see more of them in the coming years.

    Don Scallen on Jun 18, 2020 at 11:56 am | Reply

  2. Fishing on the Eramosa River near Everton, just saw 2 otters, I didn’t think they would be this far south.

    Neil MacLeod from Eramosa on Jun 17, 2020 at 8:42 pm | Reply

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

By posting a comment you agree that IN THE HILLS magazine has the legal right to publish, edit or delete all comments for use both online or in print. You also agree that you bear sole legal responsibility for your comments, and that you will hold IN THE HILLS harmless from the legal consequences of your comment, including libel, copyright infringement and any other legal claims. Any comments posted on this site are NOT the opinion of IN THE HILLS magazine. Personal attacks, offensive language and unsubstantiated allegations are not allowed. Please report inappropriate comments to