Otters showing up on the Red in GF

Daniel Johnson of Grand Forks sent me a photo and a video clip of river otters he has been watching from the walking bridge that crosses the Red River downstream from the Riverside Dam rapids.

Daniel Johnson of Grand Forks shared this photo of a river otter he photographed in late November along the Red River near Riverside Dam rapids in Grand Forks.

He described the encounters in an email as follows:

“The day before Thanksgiving, I was on my normal afternoon walk and as I started across the north end pedestrian bridge from the EGF side I happened to look down on the small island of ice underneath the bridge.  I thought I saw a black lab sitting in the middle of the ice eating something.  That’s what it looked like from above.  I whistled at it and it looked up and I realized from the narrow face and light colored hair on its lower mouth area it was an otter.

“It ran into the water and I watched it dive in the brown water. I stepped back and hid for a bit and it came back up on the edge of the ice looking for me. I got a few pictures and some video but it was pretty concerned about me.  This was at 4:30 p.m. the afternoon before Thanksgiving. I walked the same route the next two days and saw it again. On Sunday afternoon (Nov. 30), I had my binoculars with and watched four of them playing in the Red, about 200 to 300 yards north of the bridge, behind the old Pillsbury plant.”

This past Thursday afternoon,Johnson said he saw another otter, this time sitting on the ice along the edge of the river about 30 feet below the dam and upstream from the walking bridge. The otter was sitting on the ice eating what appeared to be a fish, Johnson writes.

“It saw me and darted around for a bit and went swimming,” Johnson said. “Fun to watch.”

I’ve also seen otters along the Red River, and they are indeed fun to watch. UND Professor Emeritus of Biology Robert Seabloom, in his book, “The Mammals of North Dakota,” writes that river otters never were abundant in North Dakota but historically were present in all of the state’s major streams. Numbers declined to the point where there were only two reports of otter sightings in the early 1960s, Seabloom writes, but river otters in recent years have become more abundant.

“There have been numerous reports of river otters from the Red, Sheyenne, Missouri and Souris rivers and nearby wetlands,” Seabloom writes in his book. “Of these, most have been since the year 2000.”

Area groups collecting deer hides again this fall

The Min-Dak Border Chapter of the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association again will be collecting deer hides for its Hides for Habitat program. Collection boxes will be set outside Cabela’s, Orton’s on the Point and Sportsman Taxidermy in East Grand Forks. Because of a lack of volunteers, the chapter this year is partnering with the Thief River Falls MDHA chapter on the hides program. Volunteers still are needed to empty hide boxes regularly. The Min-Dak MDHA chapter has been involved with the program since 1989 and has used proceeds to fund a variety of youth outdoor education initiatives along with the Options deer hunt for disabled hunters at Rydell National Wildlife Refuge. For more information on the program or the MDHA chapter, call (701) 741-1147.

In Grand Forks, the Grand Forks County Wildlife Federation will collect deer hides at the following locations:

Twin City Motors, 1120 S. Washington St.

True North Equipment on Gateway Drive.

Emerado Superpumper.

S&T Quickstop in Thompson, N.D.

Peregrine hatch observed atop UND water tower

Everything appears to be on schedule for the peregrine falcons nesting atop the UND water tower.

Tim Driscoll, the Grand Forks raptor expert who monitors the birds, said at least one baby peregrine has hatched, based on the behavior of the mother, Terminator, and Marv, a male peregrine hatched last spring in Fargo. Marv showed up in Grand Forks this spring to mate with the older female.

The timing of the hatch is consistent with when Terminator laid her eggs, Driscoll said. Because the nest is some 100 feet up the tower, it’s difficult to observe much from the ground, Driscoll said, especially on rainy days such as Wednesday.

“We’ll know more in a week or so,” Driscoll said.

Terminator, hatched in 2006 in Brandon, Man., has been nesting in Grand Forks since 2008.