Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Spring 2005


Great Plains Research (spring 2005) 15(1): 31-43.


Published in Great Plains Research Vol. 15, No. 1, 2005. Copyright © 2005 The Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Used by permission.


Currently, the northern river otter (Lontra canadensis) is listed as a threatened species in South Dakota. We determined whether adequate habitat was available for reintroducing river otters in South Dakota. The 17 rivers/creeks included in the analysis were selected according to stream size, water gradient, and water permanence. A vegetation transect was conducted and a water sample was collected at each study site, ranging from one to four per river. Rivers/creeks were rated (1 = least suitable to 5 = most suitable) according to habitat requirements of river otters in the following categories: stream characteristics, watershed features, water quality, prey availability, and other factors. Based on the habitat survey and rating criteria, rivers/creeks with high ratings have sufficient riparian habitat (vegetation bordering water), water quality, and prey availability for river otters. The five highest-rated rivers were the Bad, Big Sioux, James, North Fork of the Whetstone, and Little White.