Otter census in Värmland


Maya and Lotta from Klarälvdalens folkhögskola scan the area for places where the otters might have left signs.

For the past week I have been out working with otters in the county of Värmland. This is an annual census which we have been doing since 2002. The otter was previously in quite a severe situation mostly due to toxins and hunting and is now recovering.

This census is a cooperation between Länsstyrelsen i Värmland and Klarälvdalens folkhögskola. While it is a very thorough census, it is also a chance to practice practical survey techniques for the students of Natur- och faunavårdslinjen.


Vänern late one afternoon while out working close to Karlstad.

We are primarily looking for signs as in scats and pugmarks in sand or mud. The otter lives mostly off fish and hunts in rivers and lakes. While not defending territories they have what we call home ranges. While moving around its home range an otter will frequently go up on strategic locations and place a dropping there as a signal to other otters and as a way of communicating. The smell of these scats is quite unique and they smell almost sweet. This is what sets them apart from other similar droppings from mink and marten. Normally they also contain remains of fish.

Strategic locations to search are bridges over waterways and piers with rocks underneath on lakes. Otters prefer to place their scats on locations with overhang and preferably on rocks.


Otter feces are placed on strategic locations such as in this case on a rock underneath a wooden pier.

We were interviewed by both Nya Wermlands-Tidningen and Värmlands Folkblad. NWT published an article on 2013-09-20 and VF on 2013-09-21 and the latter was on the front page.

My year 2011

I have made an attempt to conclude my year.

I have held seven talks in Värmland about carnivore conservation. I hope next year to bridge out into a larger area of Sweden.

I have spent four months working with black-footed cats in South Africa and written two articles about my expedition. Also Värmlands folkblad interviewed me about my trip before I took off there. In South Africa I saw six species of wild cat in the wild, actually all but the serval. I also had the unique opportunity to see black-footed cat kittens in the wild. Next year will see more trips and expeditions.

I worked for 27 days straight and 74 hours a week with moose foraging after only having one day off after the South Africa trip. During these days I traveled four counties and went 5 703 kilometers by car – something that I am less proud of. In the last day of work my car held its last breath and I later sold it to a scrap dealer who shipped it to either the Middle East or Africa. I got an ethanol car to replace it which I consider one step better (hey at least I slice some rain forest down to drive my car as opposed to everybody else who put the last remnants of ancient life in their tanks risking the entire planet in the process).

I found out that I had a really bad B12 deficiency, something that left me in a dark emotional vacuum for several months until I figured to go and get a test. I was annoyed that they did not have B12 pills that were not tested on animals.

I held a couple of guided moose tours, one of which was with the sweetest group of Dutch people that I have ever met.

I took on a job of working with a forestry census only to become immensely frustrated and almost depressed by it so I quit the job after three failed attempts of starting (sorry Svensk Naturförvaltning, forestry is not for me).

I have now been on the board of Naturskyddsföreningen Värmland for two years and we are currently working with organizing a carnivore symposium that will be held in Karlstad in early 2012.

I have censused otters for a week and was interviewed by both Värmlands folkblad and Nya Wermlandstidningen.

I have studied intensively – at 300 % pace – for the last two months of the year, something that should lead up to something cool in 2012.

I have criss-crossed the country for various courses and meetings and met some really cool people during these trips.

I spent a few days snow tracking wolves in the beginning of the year and in one day Mareike planted the car on top a two meter high snow pile only for us to be helped out by two wolf hunters the day before the hunt.

I have some awesome friends and I would not even be half as alive if it was not for you ♥