How Otters Survive In The Rocky Mountains | River Masters | Real Wild

In remote regions of the Rocky Mountains of the United States, the river otter still thrives. They live in the lakes and rivers where fish also prosper. We follow two families of otters – two mothers with their young. At first, they fish and frolic as independent families. However, the families join together to face challenges, such as beavers invading their habitat, as well as migrating cutthroat trout to their spawning beds, and in the wintertime, avoiding coyotes who depend on the otters for some of their winter sustenance.

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the rising sun pushes aside the darkness across the rocky mountains in the western us a small segment of these landscapes as they may have been in the time before history in a remote corner of the rocky.

Mountains there is a creature that makes his home here he meets the challenges of living with a wild spirit a spirit brimming with life the river otter has few enemies the coyote is one.

there's a way to make an entrance my destiny it was now a conspiracy of witches download today the wild otter is a land animal but the lakes and rivers of yellowstone are his home.

And water is essential to his existence june and yellowstone has meant lush green growth and rivers running cold and clear fed by the runoff from winter snows a mother otter brings her pups on their first adventure they head upstream following the cutthroat trout up into shallow streams.

Ideal hunting grounds and not only for otters grizzlies are skilled fishermen and the trout are a godsend for hungry bears but even they are sometimes left yearning for a taste of the one that got away.

the shroud are on their way to the headwaters where they were born with the otters following following their forebears and their noses they seek the unique chemical signature of the stream where they were hatched.

Which isn't always easy once there the female will dig out a red a shallow nest where she will lay her eggs then the swift current there are always some that are swept away but there is often someone making sure they don't go to waste.

All that hard work and the dipper gets to feast on caviar the mother otter is following her own mental map retracing the steps of her mother before her she carefully shepherds her pups encouraging them and showing them the way.

Otters are strong swingers and always seem to attack life with great spirit even the pups are not daunted by the swift turn their destination a shallow pond an ideal spot with plenty of logs where the family can rest and feed safe from larger predators that stalk.

The shores the trout congregate here to rest before their final push up to the headwaters of their spawning stream it's the perfect spot for learning how to fish and that's exactly what the curious youngsters are here to do.

otters are much more successful when they hunt in the shallows a trout this size is quite a prize at the upper limits of what the otter can handle and it puts up quite a fight the mother is careful not to pass it off.

To her pup until they reach the shore it's quite a handful and could have escaped in the water well fed the family sets out to explore their new sanctum a log covered with grass shows it has.

Been here for decades a safe playground for otter pups even mom can't resist joining in the tussle they seem as fluid as the water where they are most at home more than any other animal.

Otters seem to embody pure joy the pups explore more now but quickly rejoin their mother during the day otters seek out couches on the shore where they can rest even though they are so full of life.

They actually spend much of their day sleeping a butterfly is a stand-in for prey an added attraction for the pups and his curiosity is an indicator of intelligence play fighting is the favorite game but the low purring grunts called chuckling.

Shows it's all in fun a sharp chirp means the play has gotten a little too rough mom puts an end to the fray they're still suckling and eventually she gets them to settle in for a meal they won't be weaned until they're five.

Months old with full bellies their fur drying in the warm sun they cuddle together for an afternoon nap at the edge of the pond they feel safe but in yellowstone other predators are never far away a coyote searching for a meal has come.

To the pond coyotes will hunt almost any kind of prey including otters but lucky for the otters this one seems to have something else on his mind a fishing coyote strange but true identified by his radio caller this.

Animal seems to have made fishing a specialty still he has none of the otter's expertise the otters awake to the danger instantly alert on land they could fall prey to the coyote but with a huge trout for lunch.

The coyote is unaware he is being watched and the otters slip away into the water a coyote with less of a taste for fish could be a real threat on land but in the water otters are untouchable alive with the music of lapping waves a hollow log becomes a playground.

Otters are beautifully adapted to life in the water their sensitive whiskers help them explore things close up they are so sensitive they will one day pick up the faint electric fields of living prey buried in the mud playing hide and seek is fun but it also hones their survival skills.

They're learning to use their sharp canine teeth a squirming playmate's foot today but one day they'll grab a slippery fish it's all a game and they're careful not to use their shell-crushing molars on tender toes they are completely at home underwater sealing their ears and nostrils tight.

Peering through eyes perfected to see through water but which leave them nearsighted above with webbed feet powerful tails and streamlined bodies they are great fishers but they do have plenty of competition.

An osprey strips away a dead branch and carries it to his mate they are also master fishermen they are building a nest above the pond and have plenty of work ahead to turn this loose pile of branches into a sturdy nest.

The pups are all over mom and certainly more hindrance than help as she tries to interest them in a fishing trip but fishing in the shallows of a pond filled with trout is so easy the pups don't get in the way once caught though the pups are intensely curious.

She lets one of the pups take the fish a chance to see if it can handle such big prey and the pup doesn't hesitate suddenly a strange female appears along with her three pups otters are not territorial and home ranges can overlap.

But there's no knowing how these two families will interact the pups make a beeline for the log playground knowing a good thing when they see it but it's the abundant trout gathered here in shallow water that have attracted their mother strangely confident the new pups run.

Ahead mobbing the mother of the twins for a handout this seems to be a reunion of some kind and she gives up her meal to the new pups everyone seems to be acquainted could the females be sisters mother and daughter.

It's clear they know each other and are happy to be reunited the pups are communally fed by both females adding weight to the idea that they are somehow related even unrelated otters are known to cooperate when they are hunting driving fish into the shallows.

But here where the fishing is so good the bonds seem less transactional and more like family but like in all families there can be fights a minor spat but here one of the twins seems to side with new arrivals leaving our original mother one pup.

Short in one great pile the new family welcomes the extra pup as they rub themselves on the grass to dry their fur they won't stay for long a summer squall sweeps over yellowstone the mother was only one pup.

It's headed off to another fishing spot seemingly oblivious to her missing offspring looking to make sure the coast is clear she follows an otter trail that crosses a hiking trail up over the hill to another stream with her pops in tow the pup she left behind realizes its.

Mother and litter mate are gone with loud chirps it calls for its mother hearing its distress calls its adoptive family hurries back but here is its own mother having realized her mistake she rushes in to reclaim her missing pot at last it's one big happy family again.

The pups investigate everything stripping away park can reveal snack sized prey like this beetle the pups also love to play with bits and pieces as they are learning to use their paws and whiskers intelligent and imaginative even a blade of grass can entertain them.

One pump seems content to play with his toy stick while another discovers that its mouth is not designed to scoop up trout eggs otters do not scavenge but will eat pretty much whatever live prey comes their way even a slippery salamander but for the pups clay can be just as.

Rewarding as eating it's even better when play leads to eating chasing its stick this one discovers a dragonfly nymph on the bottom but otters are designed to fish and it's up to mom to show them how the mother has caught a huge trout she grabs it by the head.

The best place for a secure grip it is still very much alive as she leads the pups out of the current where the lesson will continue obedient to instinct the pups follow faithfully she releases the wounded fish to them one of them grabs it by the head and makes a run for the log.

But once there he doesn't seem to know what to do with it he tries to begin eating it from the tail wrong that's how you lose a fish mom comes to the rescue and the lesson begins again.

another skill the mother teaches the pups is how to cooperate and driving fish into the shallows where they are easier to catch here they can rope or swim whatever works with the pup's help or perhaps despite.

That it is mom who seals the deal but practice will make perfect eventually but this summer idol is ending the spawning run is over and the trout are disappearing from this tranquil pond but cutthroat trout do not die after.

Spawning like their salmon relatives do instead the current is sweeping them down the waterfall they worked so hard to scale they head back the way they came to even larger screens followed by the always hungry otters finally they make it to the yellowstone.

River itself here they meet the full cast of characters that make yellowstone unique all the creatures that have dwelt here since before humans arrived the otter families need to keep alert around such large neighbors playing king of the bank a splendid bull elk makes sure a younger.

One knows its place they are oblivious to the otters who need only keep out of the way but a great blue heron is a real competitor for fish one bison calf seems innocent enough but a whole herd of these massive ice age giants can crowd out other river travelers.

Ducklings must scramble to stay out of the way a vista like this can take you back in time tens of thousands of years but it's just a passing show to the otters the otters are on the move pulling out a daydens all along the way for a few hours rest.

The pups are nervous as they head into unfamiliar territory the families keep in close physical contact to reassure each other they will travel two to three miles or even more in a day heading upstream to the river's source yellowstone lake.

The yellowstone river will be their preferred habitat for much of the summer however the otters are safe as long as they are in the middle of the stream but the mother is looking for a specific spot where she wants to pull out onto the shore.

Regardless of the danger she is heading for a traditional latrine site one that has been used by generations of artists often situated high on promontories the otters climb up to defecate and scent mark here leaving signs to let other otters know.

That they've been here otters are not territorial and have overlapping ranges but they like to keep track of each other just the same even when they are just passing through as they approach the big lake in their journey upstream the river slows down they are lucky to happen upon a beaver.

Lodge a beaver exits his bank lodge swimming in the sky beaver lodges are often used by otters as day dance sometimes with the beaver still there beavers can also provide better fish habitat on smaller streams where the dams provide deep pools for fish.

But it's also an ideal fishing ground for a bald eagle where there are beavers otters thrive the owners don't compete with a beaver who lives on bark otters don't build dams of their own and are happy to move in temporarily with the builders of this beaver lodge.

But the beavers don't seem to mind neither does the eagle bald eagles are happy to rob an honor of its hard-won dinner not all of the temporary dens the otters use are as comfortable as the beaver lodge sometimes a little home improvement is called for.

This mother is haying gathering grass and leaves so she can make the rocky and damp den she has commandeered a little cozier for her pups they will be safe here tonight while larger predators stalk the dark and while they sleep the yellowstone night remains an active.

World the warmth of the morning sun is an invitation to play their mother is infinitely tolerant of their high spirits.

Which is good since young otters seem to have an insatiable appetite for hijinks but wrestling can serve a practical purpose too rolling on the grass dries their fur otter fur is incredibly warm because it is incredibly dense.

yellowstone is one of the rare places that still has its full repertoire of predators and sooner or later they all come down to the river to drink wolves have been exterminated but were reintroduced more than 20 years ago the otters are careful to give them a wide berth.

A collard alpha female has brought her puppies here to drink they are now out of the den to begin their training like the otter pups they too love to play but as pack animals their games have a serious purpose to help sort out their hierarchy within.

The group since only the most dominant animals ever get to breed their entire future may depend on the games of puppyhood yellowstone lake is actually the drowned caldera of a super volcano coyotes haunt its beaches of volcanic sand.

As the otters are about to find out since the otters must feed on the open beaches coyotes are happy to steal from them and they're not the only ones even a white pelican is keeping close watch hoping for a free meal at the otter's expense.

But pelicans are not the most talented of thieves the otter escapes into the water leaving the disgruntled pelican to complain but some thieves have wicked skills a passing shadow startles the family who can only watch as their dinner.

Disappears in the eagle's talons the cutthroat trout that the otters follow to the lake are actually just beginning to make a comeback here much larger lake trout which don't migrate upstream to spawn and are too big for the otters to catch were illegally introduced here and they decimated the cutthroats.

But today after years of aggressive netting of lake trout the cutthroats are rebounding much to the otter's benefit and for the grizzlies as well who can only catch the trout when they head up their spawning streams unless they happen to come upon a family of otters who have had good luck fishing.

cutthroats are much too fast for the pups to catch in the open water so the family heads to one of the many shallow lagoons that fringe the lake shore like a magic mirror the tranquil lagoon reflects the beauty and grace of the otter's world.

They've come here so the pups can learn to fish for suckers small slow bottom dwelling fish that are much easier for the pups to catch but they're still not past stealing a fish from their mother they make good use of their whiskers feeling for their prey right beneath.

Their noses the whole family joins in the feast ravens always hang around hoping to pick up the scraps but this pup think that he might be on the menu he stands his ground only when mom backs him up in the interior of the park new growth.

Attracts bison a pile of rocks on the shoreline is home to another family the den of the local coyotes their pups are just beginning to explore their lakefront home to the otters this is just a convenient place to pull out to eat.

One look at them and the young coyotes retreat as adults they would challenge the otters but for now they leave them in peace late summer squalls bring much-needed rain while the wind whips up a stiff chop waves are a new experience for the.

Coyote pups and not a pleasant one waves like these are new for the otter pups too but effortlessly buoyant and with amazing flexibility they soon learn to navigate them like pros they never seem too tired of the rocking motion.

summer squalls don't only bring rain they bring fire fire has always been a part of life in yellowstone but climate change has literally turned up the heat in which summers forest fires are.

Limited in scope but with the drier and warmer summers ushered in by climate change they can destroy entire mountainsides the ground burnt bare erodes quickly in the rain muddying the stream for the otter's fish but the bloom of purple fireweed is.

Testament to how fires ultimately help rejuvenate the land at the end of a dry summer water barely trickles over the rocky steam beds fish can be caught in occasional pools of which the otters take full advantage.

Sometimes the pups still seem to prefer to play with their food rather than to eat it autumn brings newcomers to yellowstone trumpeter swans from canada with an eight-foot wingspan it's the largest waterfowl in north america the small resident population is.

Struggling and they don't welcome the migrants who bravely protect their darker cignets display quickly escalates into a vicious fight they mean business swans have been known to force their opponents underwater and drown it.

This round goes to the home team snowstorms soon replace summer squalls winter comes early a mile and a half above sea level kept warm by their incredibly dense coats the otters can always retreat to the safety of the water as long as it isn't completely frozen over.

the otter families are always on the move they fish one spot today another tomorrow they follow a loose circuit returning only after a few weeks so they will never.

One location always searching for good fishing the two otter families can go for weeks without seeing each other but when they haul out at a traditional latrine site the chances are that they will meet again it's a joyful reunion.

The family joins in group scent marking dancing to leave scent from special patches on their hind feet and defecating it is clear to all in sundry that this family of otters is here healthy and together again then off they go on another fishing trip for now all together.

a cornucopia of scent from meal scraps to scent marks proves irresistible to the resident wolf pack one by one they roll in the scent claiming bragging rights to such a heady brew proof that theirs is a productive.

Hunting territory high above the river a bald eagle eyes the pups he keeps a close eye as they add sledding to their games but it's not all fun and games coyotes patrol the riverside in winter.

Always looking to steal a fish or scavenge some scraps but with the families reunited the honors have numbers on their side they decide to mob the coyote by land and by sea to drive him away it's clear the coyote is not really.

Frightened but it decides to wait for better odds eagles are omnipresent along the rivers pairs have strong bonds which they forge in a magnificent ritual flying high they grasped talons and spin in free fall they show ultimate trust in each other.

As they tumble down breaking it off only just before they would crash into the earth winter brings with it the big freeze as i seals the water beneath it presents a challenge to all the creatures of yellowstone.

But there's always some open water and that's where you'll find otters otters don't have long claws to grip the ice but the pups soon discover they have a special talent sliding.

This is with their fishing grounds disappearing under the ice otters must find open water but they are not the only ones otters have been known to hunt waterfowl but swans even with both families working together.

Swans are definitely out of their league marking latrines is just as important to the otters in winter as at any other time in the snow that means a slippery climb up to mark and then tobogganing down it may be the most efficient way to move in the snow but it sure does look like.

They're having fun as winter sets in even the lake begins to freeze yellowstone is transformed into a windswept landscape of white.

Deer and elk moved to the lower valleys long ago the bison used their massive heads to plow through the snow to the grass beneath the otters must keep fishing to survive so they must keep moving in search of open water wherever that journey takes them.

Scaling a waterfall in an icy torrent is just part of a day's work in the evening they check in at otter motels dens scattered across their range where they can hole up overnight huddling together to stay warm morning finds them slithering over snow.

And ice on their way to another cold dunk in a constant search for fish often is not they come up empty fast flowing water keeps the ice at bay but it's not a great place to find a meal native americans say the otter is always.

Hungry in winter that may be true at last the mother comes up with a fish her pup tries to steal it as it has so many times before but this time she's not giving it up.

It's time the pup learned to fish for itself but it doesn't give in easily a coyote spies the otters do they have something he could steal the water shrew comes in handy when fish are scarce but it's not enough to entice the coyote.

Even the hardships of winter can't crush the playful spirit of the twin pups an otter just fishes with another otter pulling him by the tail the mother seems to have given up on teaching independence for today she relinquishes yet another catch to the pup the coyote is intrigued when an otter.

Pulls a big trout onto the ice it would make a good meal for the bald eagle escape into the water always the otter's best defense being caught on land is a different story a coyote family drives another coyote.

Away they guard their hunting territory jealously especially in winter's grip into this danger zone a mother and one of her pups appears caught by a storm they spent the night in a snow-covered.

Den along the banks of the frozen river with no open water in sight they set off across the ice dark figures in a white world easily spotted by the displaced coyotes the race is on short legs bounding for all their worth the coyotes can easily outrun them.

The pup slips away the mother defends herself valiantly luckily for the otter only one of the attackers seems willing to take on those sharp teeth but one may be enough.

At the last moment she's safe in her den leaving the coyotes bewildered and still hungry near a stretch of free-flowing river the rest of the otters emerge from another den where they've spent the night while the pups seem ready to start fishing right away the female seems to.

Wonder where the missing otters might be haunted by their absence she calls off the hunt the female decides to go looking for them just then the missing mother and pup show up short-sighted the family appears at them could it be yes.

after the briefest of reunions it's time to get back to the serious business at hand fishing the favorite pursuit of every honor well that and indulging in the special joy they take in just being alive the otter's irrepressible spirit is.

Evident and enviable for all who are lucky enough to see it it may be a secret of their success but it also feeds the soul to see them like this free to pursue their own kind of happiness free to be otters river masters of yellowstone.

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How Otters Survive In The Rocky Mountains | River Masters | Real Wild