Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Wildlife and Fisheries Science

Major Professor

Michael R. Pelton

Committee Members

Boyd L. Dearden, David Etnier, Larry Wilson


Beginning in December 1988, 14 river otters were obtained from South Carolina and Louisiana, implanted with radio transmitters, and released on Little River in Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP). A total of 896 radio locations were obtained. There were four mortalities.

Five otters established home ranges in Little River. Four otters traveled out of Little River. Of those otters, three established home ranges on the North Carolina side of GSMNP. One otter established a home range in the French Broad River outside of GSMNP. The remaining otter has not been located since its release.

After a brief period of acclimation, otters became either crepuscular or nocturnal. They avoided people by denning and feeding in areas where people were not present.

A total of 75 scats were collected from Abrams Creek, Little River, Little Pigeon River, and Hazel Creek. Scats were analyzed to determine feeding habits. Crayfish and fish were the most utilized prey; northern hog suckers (Hypentelium nigricans) were the most abundant fish found.

Rock crevices, ground burrows, and a log jam were identified as resting sites. The sites were all in close proximity to feeding locations. Eight otters were found in association with other otters on at least one occasion. In 71% of the associations, the interactions took place between a male and a female . No female to female associations were recorded .

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