Date of Award

Fall 9-22-1982

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

School of Renewable Natural Resources

First Advisor

Chabreck, Robert H.

Second Advisor

Wright, Vernon L.

Third Advisor

Johnson, Mark

Abstract

River otter abundance, distribution and habitat use were determined in Louisiana, with emphasis placed on the parishes north of the coastal marshes. Records from 1913 to 1980 indicated that otter harvest and pelt price increased over the years. Data from a trapper survey for the 1980-81 season were used to estimate otter harvest for each parish, and the data were compared in a step-wise regression procedure with independent variables thought to affect otter abundance. Of the factors I considered, those most responsible for variation in trapper harvest among parishes were the area composed of non-forested wetlands, area composed of forested wetlands, number of trapping licenses sold, and area planted to cotton in 1980. Otter abundance was indexed at selected sites in eight parishes by counting scats along transects during summer 1981 and winter 1981-82. Otter scats occurred along 18.9 percent and 20.3 percent of the survey lines during the summer and winter surveys, respectively. Several environmental variables were measured at each site and related to the abundance of scats. The variables included habitat type, cropland, forested land, shoreline elevation, fish activity, water turbidity, and human disturbance. Most otter sign was observed along streams with heavy fish activity, low human disturbance, and low water turbidity.

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