We saw four river otters at Lafayette Reservoir today (Jan. 23). We stopped at the Ranger Station and were told that these otters showed up last year — possibly from the creek below the reservoir. They also said that they understood there were otters in the reservoir in the 1950s. Perhaps you could tell us more?
John Eaton & Beth Ferree
John & Beth:
Those river otters initially started out in the Sacramento (CA) River Delta, where there are LOTS of otters. They swam down the Sacramento River to where Pacheco Creek empties into the river at the base of the Benicia Bridge by Martinez, turned up Pacheco Creek and swam to where it turns into Walnut Creek. They continued on to where the creek branches into a multitude of little creeks that head off in all directions. These otters obviously followed the little creeks that eventually passed close by Lafayette Reservoir, where they crossed over to the reservoir.
Otters have used the same technique to get to Heather Pond in Walnut Creek, and Hidden Lakes in Martinez. A few beavers have also made that trip to the Walnut Creek area, where I know they cut down at least one little tree in the backyard of a very surprised homeowner. Clever creatures. It wouldn’t surprise me if there were otters in the reservoir in the 1950s. The river was there and the creeks were there, so the otters could have used them back then and probably even earlier. It should have been an easier trip back then because the area wasn’t nearly as urbanized as it is now. /Gary