There’s a new apex predator in town. Like bears and lions who are at the top of the food chain in their ecosystems, river otters and badgers are our local version.
After having been driven out of the area for over a century, otters are making a comeback in the Chicago area. The Cook County Forest Preserve tags and tracks them and has found some fascinating new behaviors for the species in an urban environment.
Chris Anchor, a senior wildlife biologist with the Forest Preserve District of Cook County and the head of the Urban Otter Project, says he’s found that otters can move up to a hundred miles overland through an urban landscape. Some can even hang out in suburban retention ponds. When they do, they eat up the entire aquatic wildlife in a lake, river, or pond. That can be good, Anchor says, since the otters can eat up to 15 pound carp — an invasive species in many parts of the region.
Chris Anchor joins Worldview to discuss the county’s otter and badger conservation efforts.