20 years ago the Eurasian otter (Lutra lutra) was largely extinct in Europe, with the exception of a few secluded retreat in the Czech Republic, Bohemia and Austria. Meanwhile, national and internatonal laws guarantee highest levels of protection. As a result, a slowly but steadily return of this highly endangered species in its original habitats can be observed. The Wildland foundation Bavaria hast bought large areas and riverine landscapes in the inner Bavarian forrest, and re-created them otter-appropriate. Spruces have been chopped down and replaced by alluvian plantation, providing shelter to otters and nutrient input has been reduced by implementing buffer zones to adjacent agricultural fields.
This summer, our team was repeatedly on the track of the established otter population there. On the basis of DNA traces in their faeces and water samples we assess how many otter individuasls are actually living in this area, gain relevant information on their actual diet and on the potential prey species living in the respective rivers.
Searching for DNA-traces of the otter – on land …
… and in water: