You’ve probably heard about the occasional cat on a power pole or a bird nesting on not-so-safe infrastructure, but we’ve got a new one for you: an otter in a canal.
Three SRP crew members, Craig Boggs, Dave Massie and Joshua Shill, were working on a road by the Arizona Canal last month north of Mesa when they noticed a 4-week-old otter struggling to get out of the drying canal. The otter was too small to use the steps that horses and other animals use to get out of the canal if they fall in, so the crew stepped in.
After rescuing the otter, they contacted the Arizona Game and Fish Department, which transported it to their Adobe Mountain Wildlife Center in Phoenix. The otter was dehydrated, starving and infested with fleas. Game and Fish wildlife staff cared for the otter and fed it a trout mash mixed with kitten’s milk, which has the appropriate nutrients.
Its condition improved and the otter was turned over to Out of Africa Wildlife Park in Camp Verde on April 26, where it will be cared for from here on out.
Nathan Gonzalez, Public Information Officer for Game and Fish, said it was the first time the agency has helped rescue an otter from an SRP canal. An otter family is said to live in the forebay at Granite Reef Diversion Dam, which could be where this little guy started its harrowing journey.
“While we don’t know for sure, it’s likely that as the canal started to draw down, mom abandoned the canal and the baby was too young to follow,” he said.
Gonzalez said wildlife experts at the wildlife center routinely rehabilitate and save some of the state’s 800-plus native wildlife species.
“It’s often a thankful, albeit costly, job,” he said.
Thank you to our crews and the wildlife experts for saving the baby otter!
And for everyone out there, please follow these safety tips when you’re near any Valley canals!