Lontra canadensis is a top predator in the Indian River Lagoon system.Benefit in IRL: Their aesthetic value aside, river otters may help reduce direct competition between commercially valuable fish species and other fishes. Otters have historically been blamed for depleting game fish stocks; however, they may actually be of benefit to commercial species due to their preference for slow moving, non-game species of fishes. Through removal of non-game fishes, commercial species thus enjoy reduced competition for food (Davis et al. 1992).River otter fur is still highly prized today in the fur trade and nearly all U.S. states allow the export of otter pelts, subject to regulation by state wildlife authorities. In some states, river otter populations are low enough to have gained them threatened or endangered status. They are thus protected and managed for in these areas. However, in all Canadian provinces, Alaska, and approximately half of the remaining U.S. states otters are still trapped seasonally under highly regulated conditions. Perhaps surprisingly, Louisiana generally has the highest harvest of river otters in the U.S., with annual totals sometimes exceeding 10,000 animals (Nebraska Game and Parks Commission 2001). River otter pelts in 2001 were valued at an average of $48.00 USD (North American Fur Auctions 2001).
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